Recently, I needed to pack for a trip to French Polynesia where I’d be island hopping between very different islands. Some were low atolls with long, sandy beaches. Others were mountainous and scattered with trails that lead from the beach up into the forest. But one, with characteristics of both, is largely uplifted coral.
When packing, I couldn’t merely rely on minimal flip-flops. I needed something sturdy and with a grippy outsole for hiking the Lost Track in Rurutu, which mostly consists of scratchy, ancient coral. So, I tossed a pair of Lowa Locarno GTX Lo hiking shoes into my suitcase.
Made from long-lasting and comfortable nubuck leather, the shoes are lined with Gore-Tex waterproof, breathable membranes, so when you’re sloshing across puddles that cross trails or even hiking in mud—your feet will stay dry. (Remember, however, that overtopping is more of an issue with shoes than it is with boots.)
The Lowa Hybrid Trac rubber outsoles are low profile for a more nimble, close-to-the-ground feel. On the Lost Track, that’s all I needed. Sure, my guide was wearing rubber flips, but he hikes the trail every day.
The inverted Monowrap frame construction with hybrid dura-polyurethane and dyna-polyurethane midsoles gave my feet great support, stability, and shock absorption while on the trail. And after a hike, the shoes are fine for rolling into a bar or cafe without looking like you just came out of the wilderness.
One criticism of hiking shoes v. boots is that the shoes lack the same ankle support, and that’s certainly a concern when you decide what matches appropriately to your chosen excursions. But when you don’t need beefy ankle support, hiking shoes are much easier to pack when you don’t want to haul a huge suitcase around.
The Locarno GTX Lo women’s hiking shoes comes in black, espresso, graphite/jade, navy/Mandarine, and reed/off-white, and list for $195 on the Lowa site. The men’s version lists for the same amount on the Lowa site, and comes in brown, forest, anthracite, and navy.