Testers who ventured off the beaten path loved the Focus (the QC is the women’s version), calling it ideal for hikers who tackle technical terrain that requires precise footing. “It had enough torsional support to prevent my foot from rolling over while sidehilling or misstepping on rocky trails near Steamboat Springs,” says a tester who felt more nimble in this boot than the others.
“It feels almost like a dayhiker, only stiffer, with moderate-load support that never felt clunky.” Another tester raves, “The arch and ankle support helped me feel completely stable on uneven, off-camber terrain.” The relatively flexible soles offer superior connection with—and feel for—the ground, which, along with the burly rubber toecap, made them great for scrambling.
The low-profile PU midsole and full-length nylon shank gave testers enough support to carry up to 40 pounds, but there was a tradeoff: “When I hiked on uneven, rocky surfaces with a heavy pack, I wished for a thicker, more supportive and protective midsole underfoot,” says a tester. Regular width is best for narrow feet (men’s wide sizes are also available). $220; 3 lbs.; 7-14 (regular and wide); QC: 2 lbs. 1 oz. (7); 5-10.5; lowaboots.com
Lowa Focus GTX Mid
Walter Keutel: The soles are perhaps a little thin, but the boots are comfortable and provide good support and stability with reliable torsional stiffness. They seem to run a little small.
Ted Alvarez: These took more break-in for me—some slight rubbing against my toes in the toebox. But very light-feeling, and nimble. Not as much flex. Traction good on slick river stones. Crazy waterproof. Maybe not the best for all-day comfort; more of a dayhiker until broken in. They definitely have support for longer trips.
Lowa Focus GTX QC
Barbara Weiss: A solid day-to-multi-day hiker with a stiffer sole that provides plenty of support on loose rocks and for scrambles across scree. A bit shy on comfort, so an after-market gel pad may be the way to go. Sloshed through some high-running creeks in these and got pretty well-doused up to the top laces with no leakage.
Shayla Paradeis: I’ve been wearing the Lowa’s since the beginning of the PCT, and rocking it pretty hard! They’re starting to lose a bit of tread, and the rubber on the arches is starting to chip away a bit, but it’s been a grueling 370 miles of Southern California. I’ve encountered lots of rocks and heat, and I’ve been managing a 22 to 25 miles per day, with a 30 to 40 pound packs, with no blisters and no injuries. Even with the heat, they’ve been pros!