Living in southern California, I don’t need to worry about owning winter boots but I couldn’t exactly wear my usual flip-flops on a recent trip to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. In search of polar bears, northern lights and dog sledding adventures, I needed a pair of boots that were going to hold up against the extremely cold temperatures, icy trails and snowy days. My Renegade GTX Mid LOWA boots were the perfect fit for gorilla trekking in Uganda with great traction, comfortable insoles and fantastic ankle support but they didn’t have the warmth I needed for northern Canada. Then, I fond LOWA’s new, winterized, taller version of the Renegade GTX and I knew they’d do the trick. LOWA’s Renegade ICE GTX boots are a great all-around winter book that were exactly what I needed for my Churchill adventure.
I arrived in Churchill to -10°C and a strong north wind that brought the windchill down significantly. I should have had on my mittens when I stepped off the plane. My hands instantly hurt and the pain was all the way to the bone. I had on my Renegades but they weren’t laced up. Even with the top undone, my feet weren’t affected by the wind. The full grain leather blocked the wind and kept out the cold.
I worried most about the warmth of the boots while sitting in the tundra vehicles and dog sledding. We spent 8 hours a day in the polar rovers and it was cold. We were inside with the windows down to take photos or standing on the back of the vehicle completely exposed to the wind and snow. The insulated GORE-TEX kept my feet warm and the breathable lining prevented me from sweating. While dog sledding, I was sitting still or standing on tracks on the sled. Usually, if I’m not moving much, my toes are frozen but the Partalena fleece lining provided plenty of warmth. Most other guests wore huge, heavy boots that were difficult to pack and even more difficult to walk around in. My LOWAs were equally warm without the bulk and weight.
Walking around Churchill was made easy with my Renegade Ice boots as well. Grip is just as important as warmth in Churchill. Even walking from the vehicle to the hotel, restaurant or each activity can be treacherous. The specialized winter tread profile of rubber and TENCEL fiber provided exceptional grip on snow and ice. Minus the polar bears, I think I had the best grip on the trails.
I could have added socks if my feet were cold and I could have walked slowly to avoid falling in the ice; I could have even managed with heavy, clunky boots but if you don’t have comfort, you can’t do much to change it. LOWAs fit my feet perfectly and provide support in all the right places. From the placement of the laces to the sole support, the Renegade ICE GTX boots fit my feet like a glove.
One thing that I would change about LOWA’s Renegade ICE GTX boots is the length of the laces. By the time I laced them all the way up, there wasn’t much left to tie together. No one wants to be tripping over their laces so I understand why LOWA wouldn’t want them to be too long but a few extra inches would have made the boots perfect.
Searching for polar bears in Churchill was a huge bucketlist item and one of the greatest adventures of my life but it could have been a horrible experience if I wasn’t prepared with the right clothes, boots and accessories. You can’t mess around with freezing temperatures. The right gear makes or breaks your experience. My Renegade ICE GTX boots provided the warmth, traction and comfort that I needed and the look that I desired. While I’m home in SoCal, flip-flops are my go-to shoes of choice but LOWA had my back, and my feet, in Canada.
Disclaimer: Thank you LOWA for providing a pair of LOWA Renegade ICE GTX boots for review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.