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(Photo: Lowa)

The Hiking Shoe in Disguise: Lowa’s San Francisco GTX Lo Surrounds

SmarterTravel

Lowa’s San Francisco GTX Lo Surround shoes are unlike any other I’ve tested. They look like a Euro-style walking shoe, but feel more like hiking wear than traditional walking or performance shoes. Which makes sense—Lowa is best known for its impressive range of serious hiking, trekking, and mountaineering boots.

The San Francisco GTXs aren’t for everyone. They take some breaking in, and are never going to feel like a worn-in pair of sneakers. But, they are a potential perfect match for travelers looking for a shoe that can do true double-duty in urban and wild settings.

They’re also great for exploring destinations with uneven surfaces: One of the reasons the soles of hiking boots don’t flex much is to protect the feet against the ruts, rocks, and bumps of the typical trail. Travelers encounter just as many uneven surfaces off the trail—think cobblestone streets, dirt roads, and ruins and you’ll start to see the appeal of a walking/hiking shoe hybrid.

And because they offer structure and shock absorbency, they are a good option for travelers suffering from Plantar fasciitis (that stabbing pain on the bottom of your foot near your heel) or other foot problem that requires a supportive shoe.

Price and Where to Buy it: $225 for women and men on Lowa.com.

How it Rates:

  • Usefulness: 9/10. If your needs fall one of the three categories (multi-destination trip, destinations with uneven surfaces, or foot issues) discussed above, you would likely rate these a 10/10. However, if you’re a traveler simply looking for a flexible walking shoe, you might rate it an 8/10 since it takes a bit of time to break in and the inflexible sole is never going to give you that squishy lived-in feel. So we’ll embrace the average and call it a 9/10.
  • Value: 8/10. While these are on the pricier side for walking shoes, when you compare the price tag to those of hiking boots, the cost of the San Francisco GTX Lo Surrounds makes a lot more sense. Note also that all Lowa shoes and boots are 100 percent hand-crafted in Europe, and the company stands by its clean manufacturing, minimal waste, and fair labor practices. So when you’re buying a pair, you’re paying a bit more for the high quality and responsible practices.
  • Cool Factor: 9/10. You’ll be able to hold your own in the most fashion-conscious city and out-hike anyone else in walking shoes. It’s basically a superpower.

Final Verdict: These well-made shoes will not let you down on vacation—you can push your physical limits and look good doing it.

Editor’s Note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, durability, value, and “cool factor.” Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

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