In an earlier review I raved about the new Gore-tex Surround technology just now going into shoes that have rolled out this year and I’ve been trying out another pair with this integrated: the Lowa San Francisco model.
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The best test for me of whether I really like a pair of shoes or not is whether they stay by the front door in my house and go in my suitcase when I travel. These have been my most-worn shoes ever since I unboxed them, so it’s safe to say they’ve made that cut.
We’ve long been fans of Lowa footwear here, despite the high European-design price tag, because they usually hit all the right notes in terms of durability, looks, and comfort. This model takes it a step further with the Gore-tex Surround technology, which is a real game-changer for the industry.
How it works with these shoes is that there’s a Gore membrane under the foot, then ventilation under that so hot sweaty moisture can escape out the bottom instead of being trapped under the sole of your feet like it is in standard shoes.
Yet because of that waterproof membrane, no water is going to get in going the other direction. So you can be splashing through puddles or rock-hopping over a stream and not have to worry that water will seep in.
It sounds a little gimmicky, but after trying it out on two different brands of shoes now, I can say the design really works and my feet have stayed drier and cooler in these than in any closed shoes I’ve ever worn.
I never got the feeling I had to kick off my shoes in order to let my feet air out.
The only drawback is that with this particular model having all that open ventilation underneath, it’s better for some kinds of travel than others. City walking and dirt trails are fine.
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But I made the mistake of taking these to a beach and the mesh underneath got filled with a thousand grains of sand. Most of that sand came out eventually after I hit them together a few times, but you’ll definitely be tracking sand and pebbles into where you’re staying if you’re in the wrong environment for this sole.
Not a huge drawback, just an annoyance, but one to consider. Wet streets and hot sidewalks are where these are at their best.
Otherwise, these San Francisco shoes have varied ventilation holes (backed by Gore-tex) all over the Nubuck leather upper, a comfortable tongue that keeps the shoelaces in place, and cushioning around the ankle.
The insole and midsole are both well-designed for comfort and built to last. These weigh 12 ounces and aren’t clunky, so they’re easy to pack for your urban travels. They look stylish enough to go from sightseeing to happy hour too.
These being Lowa shoes and having the latest Gore-tex tech, they’re on the pricey side at $225. So if you’re on a starving artist budget you might want to go elsewhere.
If you’ve got the money to invest in quality and the best in breathable foot comfort though, head to San Francisco and pick out your favorite color combination. See more info at the Lowa site and for now buy them online at Zappos (more availability should be coming soon).