Gear Review: Lowa Tibet Superwarm GTX Boots
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Overview: While I have backpacked all over the country and beyond and spent many years chasing Michigan whitetail deer, I have never combined my passions for hiking and hunting into a true DIY backcountry public-land hunt for big game until this year. So, while I had gear for both, I didn't necessarily have all the right gear for the combination of the two. I knew boots were going to be a critical piece of kit, so I spent a long time researching the options before I went. I needed something that was going to be sturdy enough to carry heavy loads comfortably while still providing warmth in cold glassing situations and traction on wet or snow-covered trails.
I found the combination I was looking for in the Lowa Tibet Superwarm GTX. This is a workhorse of a boot and a cult favorite among hardcore cold weather backpackers and hunters. Essentially an insulated version (400g Primaloft) of the popular Tibet GTX, it provides superior stability combined with insulation, making it ideal for carrying heavy loads over long distances in cold weather.
Smart features such as the I-Lock lacing cam, which allows you to separate the lace tension between the ankle and the top of the foot, keep feet comfortable over miles of tough terrain. The GORE-TEX lining provides durably waterproof/breathable protection against the elements and the Arctic Grip outsole is VIBRAM’s most advanced cold weather traction system ever, providing extraordinary grip on wet, icy surfaces. These boots retail for $460
What I like: In Montana I put these boots through the wringer, logging over 40 miles in conditions ranging from dry and mid 70's to temps in the low 20's with knee-deep snow while carrying a pack. They saw rain, snow, slush, mud, creeks, and steep terrain. Here's what I found.
First, for my foot, these boots are insanely comfortable. After a short break-in period they felt like they were molded to my feet. The lacing system allowed control of the tension on every area of my foot and ankle for an ideal fit. They provided incredible support, great traction and I never experienced a single blister or hot spot. Although they are on the heavier side, I really didn't even notice that they were there and that, to me, is the sign of a great boot.
Second is weather resistance. Like I said, I put these boots through the wringer, throwing everything I could at them in terms of weather. Paired with gaiters, my feet never once got wet. I even gave them the "stand in the creek" test without even a hint of failure. The breathable GORE-TEX liner earned it's keep.
Third is warmth. While you probably wouldn't want these boots for an all day sit in a stand in Michigan in December, for the Montana outing they were perfect. Very warm while hiking, but breathable enough that my feet didn't get soaked from sweat and then plenty warm for those long glassing sits in cold temperatures when paired with the proper socks.
Fourth is traction. The Vibram Arctic Grip outsoles are as good as advertised. The first several days of our hunt involved climbing steep snow, slush and mud-covered terrain and the traction was outstanding. I did take one slip while side-hilling a really steep spot in the snow, but that was operator error more so than boot failure.
What I don’t like: There's a lot to love about these boots but a couple small things to consider.
First, these boots aren't light, as should be expected from a heavy-duty insulated backpacking boot. For me they felt lighter on the feet than their actual weight, but they aren't a minimalist/ultra light boot option.
Second, they do warm up while hiking, especially if paired with warm socks and/or gaiters. The GORE-TEX lining does breathe some, and the uppers offer ventilation however, when the temps were closer to the 70's, these were a little much. But, as soon as the sun dipped behind the peaks and the temperature dropped again, I was happy for them. If you are looking for a boot for slightly warmer weather and don't need the Arctic Grip traction or if you tend to run hot, I would look at the regular Tibet GTX (no insulation) or the Hunter GTX Evo Extreme (200g and about 2" taller) as alternatives.
Perfect for: For me, the Tibet Superwarms are perfect for exactly how they were used - late season hunting in steep terrain and tough, wet/snowy/icy weather while carrying a pack. Exactly what you want while hiking and still plenty warm for the long glassing sits. While they are on the heavier side, I personally prefer a sturdy boot with lots of support and these deliver. The Tibet Superwarms are tough, weather resistant and provide excellent traction. Combine that with a build and lacing system that delivers a fit that is the most comfortable I've ever owned and these boots are hard to beat.
Stars: 5 out of 5