Winter Hiking in Lowa's Montreal GTX Mid Boots
As much as I love to hibernate through winter and catch up on my reading list, binge Netflix and strategize all of the next summer’s travels and hiking goals, I do make it a point to get out and enjoy some trail time in Oregon’s winter wonderland. In addition to enjoying the quiet, snowy scenery, this also helps me keep my trail legs in shape, so when spring comes, I’m ready to go. This winter, I’ve been tromping through the snow in Lowa’s Montreal GTX Mid insulated boots. Lowa has long been one of my favorite trail boot manufacturers for their durability and comfort, and the Montreal GTXs continues that streak.
I’m always excited to slip into a new pair of Lowa hiking boots, and the Montreal GTX Mid winter boots were no exception. Right out of the box, they’re deceptively lighter than they appear, and they have a sleek and sporty style—like a cross between a sneaker and a streamlined snowboarding boot. Slipping them on, it was like slipping my feet into a warm hug. They were immediately comfortable—and did I say warm? The Gore-Tex Partelana insulation goes right to work at keeping the feet toasty, so there’s no need to bulk up in heavy thermal socks. A regular pair of midweight hikers was just fine. Lacing is quick and easy, and once secured, I was ready to go and tromp some snow and soggy trail.
On the Trail
Laced up and ready to go, the Montreal GTX Mid was a little stiff out of the gate, due mostly to the extra-high ankle coverage. They do have some flexibility here, and this improved as I worked them in, and it did not hinder my normal walking gait. Conversely, this proved to be great for keeping snow, slush and soggy trail debris from creeping up and inside. The synthetic upper and Gore-Tex liner worked admirably to keep the cold and wet on the outside and my feet warm and dry on the inside. The grippy Winter Trac outsole performed nicely at keeping me steady on my feet on all types of winter trail surfaces, especially soggy duff and compacted snow; they were a little slippy on wet rock and, of course, ice.
For tackling the deeper snow and icy conditions, strapping on my snowshoes or traction devices was quick and easy thanks to their somewhat slim profile. I was able to get quickly in and out of my touring and alpine snowshoes (one with a multi-strap binding, the other with more of a step-in style binding). The Montreal’s light weight made slogging through the snow in snowshoes quite effortless. Switching to my traction devices, it was easy to pull on simple ice cleats as well as more rugged MICROspikes. Adjusting the stretchy device harnesses around the boot was simple enough. The softer, flexible soles of the Montreals, however, are not ideal for using with heavy mountaineering crampons in harsh terrain.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Warm, comfortable winter boots good for all types of winter trail hiking, with exceptional water and snow repellency.
Cons: Not really a “con,” but they’re a little cumbersome for driving in, so it’s best to wait and boot up at the trailhead; no front gaiter loop.
For winter hiking, snowshoeing and moderate backcountry tromping in cold, wet weather, the Montreal GTX Mid is a solid choice that combines comfort, warmth, light weight and versatility. The Montreal’s insulation does compromise its breathability a little bit, and I did notice my feet getting a little sweaty on longer outings—but when tromping through snow in freezing temps, I’ll take warm, slightly sweaty feet over cold, wet feet any day. (Reminder, this is why heavy thermal socks aren’t necessary.) Having hiked thousands of miles in Lowa boots, and knowing their reputation for durable, dependable, long-lasting trail footwear, I’m certain that I’ll be enjoying many winters’ worth of roaming in these great boots.
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These reviews are based on the field results of PCT: Oregon’s gear testing team. Reviews are subjective, and are based on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, temperature, weather, elevation, and trail/camp conditions, as well as personal comfort and body function. Individual results may vary.
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