Gear Review: Lowa Wendelstein

There is always this possibility that I’ll find the perfect shoes!
With this mantra I went into shoe shopping again and I had some conditions in advance: I was at the research for light (yeah, not ultralight) boots because I had this not so good experience last year in the mountains with my trail runners and I wanted leather boots because it’s comfy and I’m still convinced that leather is giving me the best foot climate. And I don’t want to look on my feet all the time and be over-careful. That’s my reason for boots.

I have a two-weeks through-hike in spain ahead of me and I want to be sure to choose wisely.

The Lowa Wendelstein are …

  • … very light for a leather boot (1031g/pair/41)
  • … rather narrow and with that they should have been perfect for my narrow foot
  • … beautiful. With their proportions, the brown leather and the red shoelaces they look just like my imagination of classic hiking boots grandpa style.
  • … made in Germany
  • … a wonderful piece of craftsmanship
  • The sole is rather stiff and the cushioning is less than average.
  • The sole has an excellent grip.
  • My size is 40 and I chose the 41. I put my orthopedic insoles inside and they are slightly thicker than the original soft leather surfaced insoles. My toes have enough space on the top and in the front.
  • The break-in is very long.

Finally I decided to go with my La Sportiva Core Highs (and get to know the Lowas better when I come back) because of trust issues:

  • I’m not sure how long the break-in will take. Until this moment I have the problem of a very aching little toe after 15 kms. But I think this will be better when the leather gets smoother with time.  I don’t want to risk Cinderella-like foot pain.
  • and because of better cushioning

 

Data Lowa Wendelstein:

 kind of shoe mid-height leather hiking boot
top full leather, interior leather
sole Vibram
price 210 €
drop ?
break-in Very long, haven’t finished yet
weight/pair
(size 41)
1031 g
waterproof If you grease them well
marketing promises Perfect mix between traditional craftsmanship and Innovation

Evaluation Lowa Wendelstein:

tested for 50 km
foot climate *****
grip *****
stability (sole) *****
stability (top) *****
protection *****
comfort *****
cushioning *****
durability *****
(seams great, but I did not test it long enough)
toebox normal to narrow width
Ultralight gear

No-Gear Gear: My Favorite Ultralight Pieces Which I Didn’t Buy At The Outdoor Store

This “gear” wasn’t designed to be gear. Some of it is really ugly. Some of it is surprisingly cheap. But everything is ultralight. And really handy. Hope there is something in it for you 🙂


 

jarsTiny jars from the pharmacy (2g)
Use them for sunscreen, deodorant (if ever you get in contact with civilization), ointments, toothpaste, etc. Label it with washi-tape and waterproof marker. If you use only the marker, the label comes of after short usage and you’ll take toothpaste as foot cream (or vice versa).


 

coffeeGDR ultralight coffee filter (8g)
It is light, it is reusable and I prefer to use it for coffee only 🙂


 

rubberRubber bands  (1g)
Use them instead of gear bags to save weight. For tent stakes, rain jackets, cooking gear …


 

scarfScarf with a visor (39g)
Use it instead of a cap: it looks great and it is very packable.
Buy it at my best friends shop  (No, she didn’t pay me to write that, I just love her caps  :-))


 

Duct.jpgDuct tape (5g)
Wrap a small amount around your poles or anything else. You’ll need it.


 

latexLatex gloves (12g)
Use them as emergency rain gloves over your fleece gloves. Certainly no good idea for winter hikes or cold weather mountaineering excursions.


 

clipsTiny clips (2g)
Use them for drying laundry, clipping together papers, money or cards.


 

mendingHotel mending kit (1g)
Use it within its original purpose 🙂


 

tightsLadys tights, black & opaque (35g)
Use them as emergency trousers (underneath your shorts) if yours are wet. Even suitable for boys. In some cases of emergency you can even use them instead of a rope. But this one is cowgirls only style.


 

spongeHalf sponge (5g)
Use it to mute your cooking stuff in your pot while walking, to clean dishes with little water and to dry your tent from condensation.


 

gaitersGaiters and Sleeves in one (38g)
Use them in combination to your merino shortsleeve shirt if you didn’t want to carry an additional long sleeve top or wear them on your legs together with the emergency tights.


 

What are yours? I’d really like to get to know more of this stuff!

 

La sportiva ultra raptor

Gear Review: La Sportiva Ultra Raptor

I bought this pair of shoes to thruhike the GR 221 mountain trail in Majorca /Spain. I put a lot of thoughts into my choice prior to my journey because it has been the first time that I chose trailrunners over hiking boots for a longer hike. I already had the Brooks Cascadias 10 at home but the cushioning seamed to weak for my sensible feet which easily get tender after long hikes.

I read a lot about Hokas and I ordered a pair together with the La Sportivas to compare them at home. They have been utterly comfortable when I tried them on and I especially loved the forefoot cushioning which I have never seen in other trailrunners before.

Finally I’m more than content to have chosen the La Sportivas because the footing of the Hokas (Challenger ATR) is god when it comes to the soles but very weak on the top of the shoes. And this has been my principal problem with the La Sportivas although they are much more stable than the Hokas.

review, test La sportiva ultra raptor
My feet disguised as clowns: The Hokas compared to the La Sportivas
review, test La sportiva ultra raptor
The La Sportivas after 300 kms and about 17.000 meters difference in altitude

 

Foot climate:
I wore them together with Falke RU4 and RU5 socks and I never had any feeling of excessive sweating even when temperature climbed. The mesh is wide and you have to wear gaiters on sandy ground if you don’t want your shoes filled with dirt at the end of the day.

Comfort and grip: 
I had no break-in phase. They were immediately comfortable from the beginning. I had one small blister as a result of a very long hiking day. In my opinion the soles are just perfect. Absorption is great but you can still feel the ground very well. The grip is perfect, too. Even on wet ground.

Stability:
And here comes the problem: The stability of the sole is perfect. But I hiked a mountain trail mainly consisting of sharp rocks and debris and  steep ascents are mostly connected with steep descents.
While I observed my co-hikers in their leather boots nearly running down those hills I had to be very slow and cautious because the top of the shoes does not provide enough stability to hold the feet in place over a long period of time. Some descents were longer than 10 kms and I had to tie the laces so tight that I didn’t feel my feet anymore. At the end of my journey I had bruises on both feet and one of them even bled.
Well, there was on good thing about all that: As I was forced to walk very carefully on the descents, I didn’t have any problems with my knees as I had on previous hikes.

Conclusion:
I love this shoes and I hate them. They are superb on ascents, but a real pain in the ass on descents. On my next mountain only trip I’m going to wear boots again. I will use them with delight to hike my really flat home region.

Data

 kind of shoe Trailrunner
top Mesh
sole Vibram
price 130 €
drop 10 mm
break-in none
weight/pair
(size 41,5 without insoles)
658 g
23,2 oz
waterproof No
marketing promises  optimum shock absorption

 

Evaluation

tested for 300+ kms
foot climate *****
grip *****
stability (sole) *****
stability (top) *****
protection *****
comfort *****
durability *****
toebox  wide & rather round

 

IMG_5073

And sometimes it’s just great to get rid of all your shoes and clothes and jump into the sea.

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