For much of the last six weeks I have been wearing these LOWA R-8 GTX Thermo Cold Wet Weather boots as winter begins to bite in sunny Devon, writes Bob Morrison.
Although the place where I am currently based is only about ten miles or 16k from the sea and its warming effects on the land, and consequently our winters are relatively mild, because the town centre is around four hundred feet or 125m above sea level we do not really derive the full benefit. Additionally, we are nestled between two upland Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which, though pretty, can become rather cold on cloudless nights so both first thing in the mornings and after closing time as one day slides into the next it can become a little slippery underfoot at this time of year. That’s when the VIBRAM Arctic Grip Trak II soles on the R-8 GTX Thermo cold wet weather boots from LOWA definitely come into their own.
These outwardly conventional 8-inch combat / duty boots, lasted from high quality 2.0mm cow leather, are intended for cold climate operations and are consequently insulated and waterproofed with a Primaloft 400 and Gore-Tex laminate lining. The shaped LOWA footbed / insole is also insulated with foil-backed abrasion-resistant felt to further reduce heat loss. As for the Arctic Grip Trak II rubber combination outsoles from VIBRAM, these have hard wearing blue polymer particles in the mix to provide very good grip on ice. They work!
These R-8 GTX Thermo boots, as is only to be expected of well-insulated cold weather boots, look a little on the ‘chunky’ side but that does not mean they are uncomfortable; indeed, like most LOWA combat boots, they are very comfy to wear. The collar is well padded and the two zone closed lacing hook system, with a lock at the fourth position, allow the wearer to adjust them to fit really snugly. The soft leather tongue, which is both reinforced and padded, extends all the way up to the seventh lace hook position to keep the snow and wet out. There is also a small tape at the rear of the collar to assist with tugging the boots on speedily.
I really like these boots, and if they weren’t too warm to wear all day indoors I’d probably be currently wearing them at IAV 2023 as they are smart as well as being practical and comfortable. Now to the negative, as every silver lining has a cloud! At present the LOWA R-8 GTX Thermo boot model is not available for individual private purchase through LOWA’s UK online web store, but if you are prepared to search on t’internet you might find some being offered through a LOWA Shop in one of the European countries where extreme cold weather boots are a necessity at this time of year. My thanks to UK LOWA distributors, Task Force, for sourcing me a pair of these superb boots.
*Footnote: If you are in the UK and you decide to buy boots online from the Continent don’t forget that now we are outside of the European Union you will almost certainly have to pay Duty and VAT on your personal import so an at first attractive price will soon escalate quite considerably.
[images © Bob Morrison]