I had planned to hold off on my review of the LOWA Mauria GTX Flex ($300) until after my hiking trip in Austria in July. But oh well, some things just need to be shouted from the mountain tops.
In preparation for Austria, I put the Maurias through a pretty vigorous testing period in South Dakota’s Black Hills and the rough, rocky, loose boulders and lumpy beds of ancient lava that is the terrain of Minnesota’s North Shore.
No one boot will fit every foot. But the Maurias fit me out of the box like a glove. Kind of like LOWA took my foot as a mold and built the boot around it. The toe box is even nice and large for optimum toe-splaying.
To get the best idea of how a boot will fit, try them on at the end of the day when your feet are naturally swollen. Be sure to take your own hiking socks along, too.
The Maurias may not look flexible, but they are. Extremely. I believe it’s important to point out that LOWA boots are made in Germany (not China), a place where hiking in the mountains is a national pastime and standards for hiking boots are high.
Though the footbed is breathable and conforms to my foot, it's not the only aspect that makes a boot comfortable. Lacing is just as important. I’ve lost many a toenail on descents to poor lacing. The lacing configuration of the Maurias nicely distributed the pressure so I could get the laces nice and snug at the ankle (without cutting off circulation) to prevent toe jam on descents.
LOWA wants to make sure you properly lace the boots for the optimal comfort so they put a little Boot Lacing 101 video on their website.
I once had a pair of Garmonts that needed breaking in. Six months and countless boxes of moleskin later, the Garmonts still needed breaking in. I gave them to a co-worker I didn’t like.
The Maurias do not have a break-in period. They were ready for South Dakota right out of the box. I always take moleskin with me on hikes just in case but this trip didn’t require it.
This isn’t unique to LOWA. Vasque boots also require no break-in period—at least none of the Vasque boots that I’ve worn over the years. But it’s a huge bonus when purchasing hiking boots to know that you don’t have to spend days on a treadmill to break them in.
You’ll always have some degree of dampness just from natural foot sweat, but it’s negligible in the greater scheme of things.
Like if you’re hiking in pouring, sheeting, pelting rain and hail and wading through puddles. Fortunately (?), that summed up my hike in South Dakota.
The Maurias got damp at the seams but water never seeped into the boot.
A good sock also helps. If the sock is well made, and with the right materials, it mitigates blisters and staves off the soak. I like the Darn Tough Vermont full-cushion Boot sock. They don’t slip or bunch and are made with a fine-grade Merino wool to speed up drying time and repel odor and bacteria.
Although no boot is immune to loose, gravelly scree on steep descents, the Maurias have excellent traction, thanks to beefy lugs and a self-cleaning tread. Ankle protection was also outstanding thanks to the sturdy Nubuck uppers.
The quality of these boots is obvious to a blind person. The Germans take the art of boot making very seriously. LOWA even sources its materials locally. I've seen and tested a lot of hiking boots over the years and these are by far the ones that have impressed me the most. Quality craftmanship, attention to detail, the Maurias have it all.
Depending on your budget, the $300 pricetag could be more painful than a blister on the Inca trail.