Sticky Scrambler: Lowa’s Redesigned Approach Pro GTX

With a low-to-the-ground chassis, Lowa bills the redesigned Approach Pro GTX as a safer approach shoe, but it comes with a hefty price tag.

Lowa Approach Pro GTX Low Review

We saw a lot of future footwear at last year’s inaugural Presscamp. One shoe particularly caught our eye. A racy, low profile, distinctively European approach shoe by Lowa.

After a year of simmering in the design studio, Lowa finally released the Approach Pro GTX to the masses for a whopping $225. For that, mountain athletes get a low-profile, stability approach shoe for a close-to-the-ground feel.

Bushwhacking, scrambling, lugging packs over variable terrain, we put the Approach Pro to task in the hills this summer.

Lowa Approach Pro GTX Review

Lowa Approach Pro GTX Low Review

Not quite a hiker nor a boot, and borrowing components from climbing shoes, the approach shoe genre is a jock-of-all-rock, but master of none. It fills the niche for the climber hauling heavy loads off trail deep into the mountains.

And at $225, this bad boy pushes the upper echelon of the approach shoe price range. La Sportiva and Fiveten make similar approach shoes for literally half of that price. Most approach shoes, however, are not waterproof. The Approach Pro GTX is.

This contributes to the price (which is on par with Arc’teryx Acrux series). While we wore the Approach Pro during 90˚ F days and didn’t notice excessive sweating, it’s clearly not for the desert rat. The Approach is designed for alpine environments, where slush, mud, and slop make waterproof breathable de rigueur.

When designing the Approach Pro GTX, Lowa consulted its team of professional athletes. The message was clear: Design a trail running inspired shoe that rides closer to the ground for a more secure feel.

“Foot placement is so crucial to this level of mountain athlete,” shared Peter Sachs, General Manager for Lowa, “[our athletes] wanted to be able to feel the rock underfoot and have a lot of sensitivity.”

A low profile shoe translates to a shoe that engages the user with the terrain underfoot. Sachs continued that this is important for “security, stability and ultimately a climber’s safety.”

To accommodate a lower profile, Lowa used a thinner outsole and shaved off about half the thickness from its traditional midsole.

The results make this shoe is a real head turner. Brandished with a distinctive geometric camouflage pattern, the synthetic upper fluidly blends the black trim and lime green accents without shouting across the scree field.

Lowa Approach Pro GTX Low Review

Borrowing from its rowdier alpine siblings, a smooth rubber rand wraps around the toes, protecting the front of the foot from head-on collisions with erratic rocks. A thin synthetic laminate connects the front rand to the heel cup, adding additional side-wall protection while keeping the weight low.

Lowa Approach Pro GTX Low Review

A double quick-lace system secures the shoe. It can independently adjust the lower shoe around the metatarsals and upper shoe around cuneiform bones of the foot for a “dialed in fit.”

Lowa Approach Pro GTX: Aggressive Approach

Lowa Approach Pro GTX Low Review

Like a pimped out Jeep, the Approach Pro is overkill when donned on urban hikes. The footbed is hard and unforgiving … almost cumbersome. Its true value is reflected when the tread is turned off piste.

Bashing through thick alder scrub? No problem. Trundling down a screen slide? Perfectly at home. Smearing up casual granite? Bring it. Crashing through an alpine stream…well, the GTX shoe is indeed waterproof, but water will spill over the cuffs.

Tifrue to the design, the slim profile brings your center of gravity a tad bit closer to the ground, sharpening your contact with the terrain while the stiff sole protects the foot from erratic features.

Approach Pro GTX: When To Choose

So how does it compare to the competition? Take the popular FiveTen Access, which is more of a crossbreed with a trail runner. The pliable Access fits the bill of a speed approach shoe, suitable for those toppling FKT.

Lowa is stiffer than most (if not all) of the competition. It will hike, but its performance increases as the trail gets more technical and may perform best while edging and jamming your way up to the top of the route.

Looking for a lightweight hiker? Look elsewhere. This isn’t a pedestrian shoe. But if you’re looking to up your alpine game and fill the void in your foot space? The Approach Pro GTX Low is an intriguing option.

Lowa Approach Pro GTX Low

  • Weights: 32 oz. (pair)
  • Upper: Synthetic
  • Midsole: EVA
  • Outsole: Vibram Rock Trac
  • Liner: Gore-Tex
  • Fit: True to size
  • More Info/Buy now: $225 

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Contributing Editor (and Gear Junkie Idaho Bureau Chief) Steve Graepel is allegedly a crook and a thief, conning his friends to steal away time from their families in pursuit of premeditated leisure, which typically involves a bike, a pack-raft, skis, running shoes, climbing rack, or all of the above.

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