LOWA ALBULA GTX LADY, $280
Ah, November. That brief time of year when the air is crisp, the forest a carnival of color and the last of the Lady Frankenstein face paint has finally scrubbed off behind your ears. There couldn't be a better time to throw on your boots and go hiking.
Meet the new Albula GTX Lady. Handcrafted in Germany, (yes, in this day and age, when just about everything is machine made) and lined with waterproof GORE-TEX, these Nubuk leather trek boots were lovingly stitched by European cobblers to be ridden hard and put away wet.
The great thing about a well-made pair of trek boots is they're an investment--find the right ones and you're set for years. Traditionally, LOWA has set the gold standard for hiking boots, regularly bagging gear of the year awards here at Outside. Still, the steep price tag on the Albulas had me hesitating. More expensive than most competitor's models, I wondered, were the Albulas were worth the hype?
100 miles of hiking, backpacking and scrambling through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Italian Appenines was enough to erase any doubts. In addition to boasting all the features I look for in a lighter duty trekking boot--strong ankle support, a thick, durable sole, and a light enough weight to stay nimble in rocky terrain--the Albula's GORE TEX waterproof lining made them ex-stream-ly friendly (couldn't resist) to tromping through creeks and puddles while a climate control system kept my feet from ever overheating. Time and again, my feet felt cradled securely on jagged terrain.
Bonus points: The midnight blue nubuck leather and lace system, which gives them a sleek finish and dare I say, sexy Lara Croft feel.
I simply love 'em! Next up for me with these bad girls? Hiking Hadrian's wall.
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area and an outdoor fanatic, Shauna Sweeney lives in Newcastle England. She has circumnavigated the globe on a ship, traveled extensively through Southeast Asia, and slept in more airports than she'd care to admit. She is currently reporting back on all things European and active. Follow her on Twitter at ShaunaSweeney