When the parcel from those nice folks at RV Ops turned up, the wife muttered - none too quietly - Another pair of boots? What the fcuk do you want another pair of boots for? and other such utterances, mostly likening me to Imelda Marcos; in the end I managed to shut her up with the latest Kath Kidston catalogue and a cake. On this occasion, though, she's right I have collected the odd pair or dozen over the years, but my problem is that I'm always seeking the perfect boot, so any opportunity to find a pair of 'keepers' has to be seized with both feet. Of course there is always another likely candidate out there, so maybe I'll never know true peace...
The lightweight and flexible Lowa Uplander GTX* is an updated model of the Lowa Recon GTX*, which it has replaced and which, in turn, replaced the Seeker GTX* (although it appears that you can still buy both of the earlier models online). It is designed to answer the need for faster, lighter footwear that can handle the most punishing conditions. and is ideal for temperate PT, field and camp wear. Due to its light weight it may not be the best boot for wearing while lugging a huge load, but it is perfect for speed and sneaking around, where flexibility is more important than stability.
Unlike the Lowa Zephyr Jungle Boots I reviewed a while back, the Uplanders are a very traditional looking boot, with no funky Cordura® forefoot panels or lacing extended towards the toe. The design is functional without being trendy and there is no unneccessary detailing. The Uplanders are constructed with a quality leather upper (available in shiny black or varieties of nubuck) for strength and wear, and a Cordura® ankle to save weight and aid breathability. Inside is a guaranteed waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex® layer with a hardwearing Cambrelle® lining (seamless to reduce hot spots); any heat build up is regulated by the 'climate control' footbed, which has perforations to improve breathability and reduce foot fatigue.
I wore the boots to work for a couple of weeks to get the feel for them, which included nothing more stressful than a handful of recces and TEWTs and a few good dog walks. They were as comfy as slippers straight from the box and I found myself automatically reaching for them in the morning from among the 'hundreds' (apparently) in the boot room and not just because I was reviewing them. The real test came with 4 days in the field on SPTA, where the boots covered many miles of typical chalky/muddy grassland, rough track and urban terrain in a variety of weather conditions and did so with no issues whatsoever. I got back today and my feet, bar one tiny rub on one of my toes on day two, are none the worse for wear as a result.
The Vibram® Vialta rubber outsole is combined with a bi-injection 'special performance' PU midsole to give good grip and shock absorbtion, and the full-length plastic stabilisers between the midsole and outsole provide excellent ankle stability and torsional control in rough terrain. The easily adjusted lacing utilises eyelets at the bottom and hooks from the ankle upwards and keeps your feet held firmly even when cutting around off road up and down the Imber hills. The ride is soft, and your feet feel cushioned as well as supported, helped by a leather flex panel at the achilles and the anatomically contoured C4 tongue cradling your forefoot.
So, have I found a lasting relationship? Well, I would have said yes but, with the fickle finger of fate decreeing the imminent change to Multi Terrain Pattern combats, we will be switching over to brown boots effective next year, and the ones I tested are black. Lowa do make these in brown nubuck, but I don't know if we will be wearing nubuck or shiny leather with our new kit. With that caveat, I would recommend these to anyone who wants a lightweight, flexible boot that won't break the bank (£109.99 at RV Ops) and I will be wearing them from now until I am told to take them off.