You don’t buy many new shoes and flip them over to find half the sole missing. But that’s exactly what you get with Lowa’s San Francisco travel shoe.
To be precise, the sole has been die-cut – it’s described as ‘open sole construction’ by Lowa – to reduce weight (m-620g/w-530g) and enhance breathability. To ensure you don’t get wet feet, the shoe has been wrapped in a waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex Surround lining. You can actually see it through the sole and perforated leather uppers.
I’ve worn these shoes all over New Zealand, in all weather – including torrential rain and hot summer days. My feet coped well in the heat, proving the worth of the Gore-Tex membrane and open sole construction, which helps air circulate so feet don’t overheat or get stuffy. The shoes resisted even the heaviest downpours Auckland could provide.
Because the Gore-Tex membrane is visible through the holes in the sole, I was initially concerned it could be punctured. But this has proved unfounded – it’s no more susceptible in this regard than any other shoe.
I’ve got wide feet and and a high arch, but the soft uppers had plenty of give to accommodate my foot shape.
Lowa has created its own PU midsole for the shoe. It wraps around the heel and toes to provides lateral support and cushioning. I found them comfortable to wear for prolonged periods, and even after hours pounding the pavement, my feet were ache-free.
The drawbacks? The sole is not suitable for trails and the price, though reflective of the well-engineered quality of Lowa footwear, is steep. For some buyers, a travel shoe that can tackle trails as well as pavement will be more attractive.
But these are a comfortable, innovative shoe and an excellent choice for summer travel or for those wanting a robust shoe in casual settings.