I’ve been trying out a lot of hiking boots this spring and summer season, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that they’re not all created equal. That’s no surprise of course, so allow me to clarify: what I’ve come to understand is that two boots in a similar price range and of similar quality can have very different impacts in the field for different people. The important thing is not to find the ‘right’ hiking boot, but rather the right hiking boot for you.
The women’s Lowa Focus is a perfect example. Out of the box, I thought the Focus looked a bit bulky, but this hill and highland boot is surprisingly nimble and lightweight. What it’s not is flexible. It’s quite stiff, which ended up hindering my hiking. My hiking partner, however, tried it next, and fell in love. The construction of this boot is very high quality: made of abrasion resistant suede leather, cordura, and microfiber, the upper boot really stabilizes the ankle. If you have ankle issues or a tendency to turn yours, you’ll do very well with the Focus. You get a waterproof, breathable GoreTex lining, and a lacing loop system that really keeps your foot snug. (See the theme here…a very tight, stable, secure fit.)
The Focus is made for use with mid-weight packs (30-50 pounds max), so it’s not designed for expeditions, but rather weekend backpacking trips and day hikes. The thread is ‘self-cleaning’ which I had never heard of before. What it means is that debris comes right off, allowing the surface area to grip consistently and well. The Focus is a great boot to keep you on your feet and keep you from sliding around on unstable ground. It performed well during local Oregon hikes where we sloshed through our share of mud and slick undergrowth, then it accompanied us to northern California, where it did equally well on slick rocks. The boot weights in at 2.4 pounds, and comes in two color options: black and teal, or beige and yellow.
Personally, I prefer the more pliant fit of my Adidas Formotion boot, but if you need a firmer fit, the Focus is a great option that’s still surprisingly lightweight and breathable. The quality is top notch, and the price, around $220, is compatible with similarly crafted hiking boots. Pick up a pair at Amazon, Summit Hut, or Altrec, and note that a low-top version is available as well, for about $30 less.