Support, comfort, performance and aesthetics would be evaluated and this type of feedback would be beneficial to see how these lightweight boots performed against traditional heavier leather boots usually worn by some soldiers. Both negative and positive feedback is beneficial. The unit competed in an arduous military skills exercise and the exercise took place over varied and difficult terrain. Build up training, ‘TAB’ style PT sessions and range packages were completed by the team wearing the Lowa Zephyr GORE-TEX®, Lowa Z6S GORE-TEX® and the Lowa Innox GORE-TEX®.
The aim of the PXR was to enable LOWA to receive feedback from users. Each team member completed the feedback form and extracts from these forms have been included in the blog.
Each team member received a pair of the boots, either the Lowa Zephyr GORE-TEX®, Lowa Z6S GORE-TEX® or the Lowa Innox GORE-TEX®. They were given permission to wear these boots during their working day outside of military dress regulations. Team members wore the boots during training serials which included:
- Loaded Marches – between 6 and 18 miles, minimum one per week.
- Range Packages – Live fire and blank exercises.
- Battle PT sessions – Weighted agility circuits involving casualty drills and fire positions.
- Infantry Patrols Competition – 63km across arduous terrain. Patrol members carried in excess of 35kg per man for the duration.
Patrol members were asked to fill in the feedback form and has been collated in paragraphs below:
- Lowa Innox GORE-TEX® coyote tan. “You can tell that you are going to stand out from the crowd.” – LCpl …... colouration is slightly different to standard military boots. Raised some eyebrows with some senior soldiers (RSM) with reference to its day to day usage, as it was more trainer like than a leather/suede boot. The colouration is part of the attraction; they are not in a military colour scheme. Slight discolouration from use on a range, due to matting rubbing off on the boot’s toe cap. The lacing style allows for quick access with quick cut scissors in an emergency.
- Lowa Z6S GORE-TEX® in brown Military style upper which is indistinguishable at a distance from several other all suede boots. Colouration faded rapidly on one exercise and the boots lost their overall brown appearance, which to some was appealing. Again, was commented on their lack of ‘uniformity’ by seniors.
- Lowa Zephyr GORE-TEX® in coyote tan. “Great looking boot” – Futuristic boot with eye catching lower. The desert colouration stood out, as the boots worn by soldiers day to day are brown or black leather. Desert is somewhat ‘ally’ and rarely seen. The futuristic lower is eye catching and drew interest.
- Lowa Innox GORE-TEX® coyote tan. “In June 2010 whilst in Afghanistan I was issued the LOWA Desert boot. I was massively disappointed. The pain and discomfort that they were causing me did not allow for 100% concentration on the job at hand and unfortunately after only 5 days of wearing them they were given away. The reason I have mentioned this is due to the fact that, that experience with a LOWA boot made me extremely apprehensive to be using the ones we were about to be given, especially with the distance we would be covering and terrain we would be using them in. My concerns were instantly forgotten as soon as I slipped these boots on for the first time! It was almost as if these boots had been custom made to my feet.” – Sgt ………. Boots that feel like a trainer but provide support to the ankles. The sizing is "spot on" or "perfect" dependant on review. The boots fit tightly and have minimal movement once laced correctly. These boots are extremely light which made running and tabbing in them a joy. “Cushioning was adequate even over rocky ground apart from on 1 occasion whilst patrolling along a range road a small sharp stone was felt and had I been running could have potentially caused an injury. This could have been due to the shear amount of weight I was carrying at the time.” – LCpl …... A slightly more rigid sole would alleviate this but could cause other negative issues such as added weight.
- Lowa Z6S GORE-TEX® in brown No complaints from any user. “Perfect comfort with no issues in the slightest. I put these boots on at 0200hrs on the morning of the competition with a single pair of issued socks. Took them off 39 hours later after covering the 63km with not a single blister or hot spot. Fantastic boots, these are now my go to tabbing/battle PT boots” – Lt …..
- Lowa Zephyr GORE-TEX® in coyote tan. Very comfortable, compared to other boots owned or issues the Lowas took no time at all to feel worn in and comfortable. Even on long marches. At a patrolling pace the boots were comfortable for the duration of all training and the exercising period. 36 hours with boots on and not a single issue. When worn on a TAB one user reported shin pains that they did not experience in Altberg or issued boots.
- Lowa Innox GORE-TEX® coyote tan. “Along flat ground and whilst wearing these boots on a normal day to day basis, the support is fine. It is only when crossing extremely arduous terrain that you wish the boot extended slightly higher up the leg and the ankle slightly more rigid. The boot however sucked to your foot like a glove.” – Cpl ………
- Lowa Z6S GORE-TEX® in brown. Slight issues with the low ankle support, two partially rolled ankles. The low ankle boot issues applies to the Zephyr boot as well – there is a high support ‘military’ boot on the market, which looks to be a better option for military use.
- Lowa Zephyr GORE-TEX® in coyote tan. As above. “Having now covered in excess of 150km whilst carrying weight over some pretty arduous terrain, I can say my ankles are still in one piece. I will continue to wear them happily for any patrols”
- Lowa Innox GORE-TEX® coyote tan. “This is possibly the only boot I have ever used that required absolutely no breaking in and I would be happy to start tabbing in instantly after taking out of the box. This boot is ideal for all physical activity running, tabbing, marching and patrolling! Unfortunately the boot is so supple that I would not recommend these if you are moving or lifting heavy objects that could possibly fall on your feet as they offer minimal protection. The GORE-TEX® material remained intact throughout and my feet stayed dry at all times apart from one incident when traversing a bog and the water level was unfortunately higher than the top of the boot.” – Sgt …... The boots have a long life span and appear to have little to no damage regardless of use.
- Lowa Z6S GORE-TEX®. “During the exercise brief we had a flippant comment from a Rifles Regt soldier about our choice of suede or desert boots. On completion of the competition we were the team to not have any team members drop out, and I firmly believe this is down to the quality of boots worn.” – LCpl ……... While some patrol members found the low boot top allowed water to enter the boot, this was not an issue when worn with gaiters. Even with the distance covered these boots appear to be in good order, one team member reported poor quality laces.
- Lowa Zephyr GORE-TEX® in coyote tan. “The GORE-TEX® does an excellent job, providing the boot isn’t submerged. I got mine wet on a tac-ex and they only dried when left in a drying room overnight, padding with paper or airing did nothing. If I was deployed that would be a serious issue” – Cpl ……... The boots were excellent straight out the box, and appeared to get more comfortable over time. The boots remain in good order and appear to have a solid life span.
Common trends across all three sets of boots are the low upper, leading to obvious poor performance in deep marshy or wet terrain. Those team members who reported poor ankle support were pleased to see the same pattern boot with a high neck on the market. They were interested in this style of boot. Over all appearance led to some comments on the ‘space age’ look; however the comments were dispelled with performance. The military dress standards do not allow for these boots to be used in daily working practice. In conclusion all three pairs are a solid, dependable boots with a long life span. The boots are thoroughly recommended by all team members and no serious issues have been raised.