I like hiking and I do it a lot. On holiday I hike in Scandinavia, in the Alpes and in our flat Netherlands. Depending on the hike I chose a high- or low-cut – category A – hiking shoe. Time for a review of 8 low-cut hiking shoes!
Walk into any outdoor sports shop and the wall with shoes is usually abundantly filled. From high to low, from light to heavy. For this article I requested 8 pairs of low-cut hiking shoes from 8 manufacturers, which are widely available in stores. After all, buying shoes is fitting, fitting and fitting again!
The shoes had to meet a number of conditions. First, it had to be a low-cut light – in The Netherlands we often call them category A – hiking shoe. In addition, it had to contain a breathable and waterproof Gore-Tex liner. They had to be useable for not too difficult hikes in the mountains with a small day- or weekend backpack. Finally: the shoes had to be available in a ladies and mens version.
Brands and types
In Europe we have traditionally been good at making hiking shoes and all shoes in this test are European brands. Nowadays, in the category A shoes, this no longer means that they are all made in Europe.
The Asolo Falcon Low LTH GV, the Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX and the Lowa Toro Evo GTX Lo come from Romania. The Hanwag Evorado Low GTX is manufactured in Hungary. The rest comes from considerably further away. The La Sportiva TX5 Low GTX is manufactured in China, the Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX is from India and the Mammut Saentis Low GTX is made in Vietnam. Meindl is the only manufacturer that does not mention where its Ontario GTX are produced. Inquiries show that the shoe is manufactured in Asia. We find it strange that a label in the shoe might suspect that the shoe comes from Germany.
The reason why I mention the country of manufacture here is simple: as a consumer, from an environmental point of view, you must be able to choose whether to buy something that is locally produced or far away. After all, the nearest environmental impact is the least.
Category A remarks
I asked for and received category A shoes. However, one category A-shoe is not the other. This is primarily due to the fact that most brands have thrown overboard the originally clear German ABCD category classification system. More and more uniform terms are used internationally. Salomon, Asolo, Mammut and La Sportiva are talking about a Hiking shoe, Scarpa is talking about an Approach shoe and Lowa is talking about an All Terrain shoe. Meindl calls the Ontario an Adventure and Leisure shoe. Hanwag also talks about a Hiking shoe, but is the only one to mention the categories AB.
Differences in weight
Although I always look for shoes that are mutually comparable on paper and in consultation with manufacturers, in reality this sometimes turns out differently. A practical example: Hanwag finds their fully synthetic Hanwag Evorado Low GTX a lightweight shoe, while in practice it is just as heavy as an average leather shoe. So, lightweight depends on interpretation. It is indeed ‘lightweight’ within the Hanwag collection of comparable shoes. But if we compare it with the Mammut Saentis Low GTX, which weighs only 338.9 grams for half a pair, you will understand that something is skewed somewhere. The average weight in this test is around 435 grams per shoe.
Differences in price
Another difference is reflected in the price. With a suggested retail price of € 189,95, the Hanwag Evorado Low GTX is also the most expensive shoe in this test. The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX is the cheapest shoe of these eight with a sales price of € 144.95. The difference is often in the way the sole is attached to the shoe and whether or not it can be resoled. The sole of the Lowa, Salomon and Mammut is inextricably linked to the shoe. If the sole is worn out with them, this means the end of the shoe. If a shoe is solable and the upper is still good, then resoling is a durable option.
All shoes were tested in practice in autumn 2019 and spring 2020. Each shoe has had about the same number of kilometers under its sole. Naturally, many different surfaces were walked on in wet and dry conditions. The wading height of each shoe is also measured. The wading height is usually where the waterproof Gore-Tex liner turns into the normal non-waterproof fabric around the ankles. This height determines how deep a stream may be before you get wet feet. Furthermore, all shoes have been examined for construction; flexibility or the stiffness of the sole. Unfortunately, I have to make a comment. I usually also test the shoes on mountain trails in the Alps. That was not possible due to the travel restrictions due to the Coronavirus.
In the texts with each shoe you can read everything about the actual data of a shoe, the fit, the shoe construction and how the shoe works in practice. I also briefly mention the pluses and minuses of each shoe. All this leads to a distribution of points and 10 is the maximum. In the past I would declare a Test Winner and a Best Buy. I don’t do this anymore because I want to prevent you from going to the store with only the Test Winner or Best Buy in mind. You have to try on a shoe in the first place. That is why I mention the fit of a shoe first in every article. If you have a narrow foot, look for a narrow shoe. The fit is therefore not part the rating. And again: try on shoes and buy them in a store.
The eight shoes in this test can be divided into two groups: those with a mainly synthetic and those with a mainly leather upper.
If you are looking for a super lightweight shoe, you will find it in the synthetic Mammut Saentis Low GTX (€ 149.00). It is a lightweight shoe with a nice price but not resoleable. I rate it at 7.8 points. Read the full review!
The Meindl Ontario GTX proves that leather does not necessarily have to be much heavier: not even ten grams heavier. It can be resoled, it is somewhat hard on the forefoot and more expensive (€ 169.90): 8.2 points. Read the full review!
The Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX is fully synthetic, slightly heavier, not resoleable, but the cheapest (€ 144.95) shoe of the test. And because it is very versatile, it gets 9.3 points. Read the full review!
Slightly more expensive is the full leather Lowa Toro Evo GTX Lo (€ 159.95). It cannot be resoled and I miss a fixation eye on the tongue: 8.2 points. Read the full review!
The Hanwag Evorado Low GTX (€ 189.95) is the most expensive shoe in this review but lacks a heel fixation and the brake is on the small side. This results in a meager 6.6 points. Something I am not used to from Hanwag. Read the full review!
The Asolo Falcon Low LTH GV and the Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX are very similar: same weight, same price (€ 169.95) and full leather. The Asolo Falcon Low LTH is a shoe for normal feet where a somewhat high instep is no problem. Therefor the Asolo Falcon Low LTH GV gets 9.0 points. Read the full review!
The Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX has a somewhat narrower fit and the shoe has a sturdy sole construction that nods to the B category. Also it offers more protection. Therefor the Scarpa Mojito Trail GTX 9.3 points. Read the full review!
Try and buy in the store!
I can’t stress enough: don’t blindly focus on a few points more or less but buy the shoe that fits. Try and buy in the store!