Verdict from 1 expert and 5 user reviews

6 reasons to buy

  • Watertight: The Lowa Explorer GTX Lo is impressively waterproof, about a third of those who have tried it say.
  • Light: Despite its bulky build, this hiking shoe from Lowa will not weigh you down.
  • Comfy: Its sufficiently padded interior provides plushness all over.
  • Grippy: Just like most kicks engineered with Vibram tech, the Explorer GTX Lo provides excellent traction on both manicured trails and moderately rugged terrain.
  • Accurate sizing: This piece from Lowa reportedly runs true to size.
  • Breathable: Sufficient ventilation is among its many draws, despite it having a waterproof membrane from Gore-Tex.

1 reason not to buy

  • Frail bond: Its outsole separating from the upper (toe zone) way too soon is a major disappointment for one experienced hiker.

Bottom line

Where the trek turns for the more arduous but staying in full control of things remains your top priority, don the Explorer GTX Lo. An amalgamation of innovation and tradition as per Lowa, this beefy hiker will help you outwit the challenges on your pack adventures in moisture-free comfort. With proper care and upkeep, the Explorer GTX Lo can be the backpacking buddy you have been dreaming of.

Tip: see the best hiking shoes.

Things the box might not tell you about the Explorer GTX Lo

The Explorer GTX Lo is among Lowa’s most feature-rich shoes built specifically for backpacking. From its wetness-defying leather shell down to its sticky Vibram outsole, the hiker, indeed, has a lot going for it.

Having said that, the shoe in question has characteristics (and consequently benefits) that you might not know right from the get-go. These so-called hidden elements are as follows:

Heel wedge. If backpacking is a car race and underfoot cushioning is every vehicle’s speed booster, then the Lowa Explorer GTX Lo is winning. Yes, this piece does not just have a bouncy midsole—it also has a cushy wedge at the heel, which increases the shoe’s ability to absorb shock.

Flared heel. While somewhat minimal, the shoe’s rockered heel makes landings feel more natural. It also works with the midsole’s heel wedge in delivering smoother heel-to-midfoot transitions.

Climbing zone. Flip the Explorer GTX Lo upside down and look at the front end of its outsole. That smooth-yet-patterned forefoot section is the shoe’s climbing zone. Its presence translates to enhanced toeing grip on edges (a maneuver called edging in the realm of approach shoes). Yes, because of it, you should be able to do some very light climbing in this trekking gear.

Additional info

  • This Lowa backpacking hiker has a boot-type sibling in the Explorer GTX Mid, which earned Backpacker Magazine’s Best Gear award back in 2019.


How Lowa Explorer GTX Lo ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 24% hiking shoes
All hiking shoes
Top 37% Lowa hiking shoes
All Lowa hiking shoes
Top 17% backpacking hiking shoes
All backpacking hiking shoes


The current trend of Lowa Explorer GTX Lo.
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Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.