For my article The best vegan hiking boots for 2021, I contacted 32 different manufacturers of vegan hiking boots. Many of them were enthusiastic about participating. When I contacted LOWA, originally a shoe manufacturer from Germany, but nowadays a globally known brand for outdoor footwear, they were very helpful to answer my questions. They even sent me a pair of their newest men's vegan hiking boots: the LOWA Innox Pro GTX Mid Vegan Hiking Boot, without asking anything in return. Of course, I tried them out, and here is my honest review.
Just to be clear, at On the Vegan Trail we love to try products and write reviews about them. However, we'd like to remain independent. Sending products or paying for a review does not buy a positive review or endorsement. What it does buy is an honest review. We feel we owe our readers our experience, with all pros and cons.
The LOWA Innos Pro GTX Mid vegan hiking boots
The Innox Pro GTX Mid vegan hiking boots are part of the ALL TERRAIN SPORT collection. You can choose from a variety of color schemes, the ones in this review are called Olive.
LOWA's website mentions the following about this particular boot:
“Always ready for a spontaneous adventure. A lightweight hiking boot made of flexible synthetic material. The multifunctional sole creates a natural walking feel that provides optimal comfort throughout a long hike. Whilst the mid-sole offers the necessary cushioning, the innovative frame provides the very best foot guidance step by step across the terrain. The upper made of tightly meshed fabric and the fitted frame do their part as well. The waterproof and breathable GORE-TEX lining ensures the wearer’s feet stay dry and helps them to not sweat during challenging hikes. The boot is surprisingly flexible when a short stroll in nature turns into an unplanned hiking adventure. The INNOX PRO GTX MID can effortlessly handle a short excursion on unknown terrain as well."
When you are looking to choose a new pair of vegan hiking boots, one of the most important aspects to check is materials. This can be fairly tricky to determine. Not all shoe manufacturers are transparent about which materials they use or whether they contain parts of animals.
LOWA claims that all shoes in the ALL TERRAIN SPORT collection are vegan. This is what they say about this on their website:
“Using uppers made of fabric instead of leather gets you halfway there in the process for boots. Neither leather nor animal wool is used in all boots of the All Terrain Sport collection and of some other models. No animal glues are used to make the boots either.”
LOWA is very serious about material selection, and I feel they are open and honest about it. The little leaflet that comes with the boots contains little information. It basically tells you that the materials are 'textiles and other'. However, LOWA's website is a different matter. This is one of the best websites I have seen from hiking boot manufacturers. It contains a lot of information, including technical data about materials. It seems like all materials for this boot are synthetic and thus vegan.
I have contacted LOWA about the parts of the boot that look like suede: a section on the heel and the section on the nose that contains the logo. It looks too much like real suede so it made me suspicious. However, the LOWA representative confirmed to me that they use a woven synthetic fiber.
3rd party certification
The claim that these boots are vegan comes from LOWA. However, the boots do not come with a 3rd party vegan certification label. Although there are many certification bodies on the market for vegan certificates, LOWA has thus far chosen not to apply for such a certificate.
LOWA does however have a 3rd party certification for ISO9001 which pretty much ensures that they are making what they are claiming. So far, it seems LOWA is not trying to make any false claims about vegan boots either. This is how they address this on their website:
“The process used to demonstrate that no animal products are used in all components is fairly elaborate. It takes real detective work to determine whether the dyes, chemicals, enhancement substances, etc. are free of animal parts. The main reason for this is that a very large number of individual pieces and components are used to make high-quality outdoor boots. The INNOX model, for instance, has more than 150 parts. It is nearly impossible to examine all of these criteria. LOWA is also unable to make any credible statement regarding the very strict vegan criteria that require, among other things, that no animal experiments were conducted on the materials used in the boots and that all plant fibers were produced by certified organic farms.”
This pretty much coincides with how many vegan certification bodies approach veganism. The manufacturer should do everything in its power to ensure that no animals parts are used for the production of the product.
Putting the boots to the test
Well, that's enough technical talk. Let's talk about the boots now and my experience wearing them. Over the last couple of months, I have hiked more than 100 km (62 mi) with the LOWA Innox Pro GTX Mid vegan hiking boots. I have tried them on many different surfaces to test them for grip and comfort.
Different surface types I have used them on:
- Sealed roads
- Unsealed roads
- Leafy forest trails
- Ankle deep puddles
- Cobblestone roads
- Leafy muddy tracks
- Wooden boardwalks (wet)
- Incidental rocks
- Exposed tree roots
- Wet meadows
This is as far as I could test them in my surroundings. No snow yet, and nothing coming anytime soon. For most people, the above-mentioned surfaces will probably suffice.
The boots came crisp out of the box. Literally, because they made a crispy noise when I handled them first. 😉 Maybe it was the Gore-Tex liner or the new synthetic fabric, but they felt and sounded brand new. I have judged the boots on different performance criteria: fit, comfort, quality, grip, and water resistance.
The fit was excellent, much better than expected really. Especially with new boots, I expected to have to 'walk them in' for at least a couple of days. But they fitted me very snugly, right from the first walk. The easy lacing system makes it easy to adjust the tightness.
Because the boots are lightweight and fit very snugly, they feel very comfortable on my feet. There is no pressure in unwanted places. The mid-height model gives plenty of support to my ankles but does not impede the movement of my Achilles' heel. So far, I have mainly walked in cold conditions, but my feet were warm all the time. However, they did not get damp, not even after a more strenuous walk.
As far as the quality of the boots, I can tell you what I have experienced so far. I cannot attest to the long-term quality as I have not used them long enough.
My overall impression of the quality of the craftsmanship of the boot is very good. All elements fit nicely, stitching is good, and no residual glue anywhere. It is all looking very robust and decent.
The grip of the sole is excellent. Even on slippery surfaces such as wet cobblestones, wet wooden boardwalks, and slippery rocks, the boot offers plenty of grip. The only slip I made was on a wet tree root.
The boots are fitted with a Gore-Tex liner so they should be waterproof. Of course, I had to put that to the test. So I walked around in the rain, hiked through wet meadows, and barged through puddles. I even stood in ankle-deep puddles for a while. They are definitely waterproof! My feet were completely dry.
I'll keep using LOWA Innox Pro GTX Mid vegan hiking boots for many years to come hopefully. I am pretty content with them so far. They are most definitely a very good replacement for my old hiking boots.
- Very comfortable fit
- Fast lacing
- Keep your feet dry
- Good grip on all surfaces
- Honestly, there is nothing I do not like about these boots!
On the Vegan Trail Rating
I really enjoyed testing these vegan hiking boots. They are very comfortable, flexible, and easy to wear. For me the boots have no flaws, therefore I award them with the maximum score.