Boots! They’re the most important piece of kit you own. Other than your rifle and your comms kit, nothing that you carry or wear on your person is more critical to mission success or failure. If your boots go down, you’ll go down. To that end, boots are hugely important but also intensely personal. No two pairs of feet (or two feet, for that matter) are alike, and our weight, stride, gait, and posture all affect which boots we find most comfortable and effective – and that’s before you start going into the minutiae of job role, terrain, etc.
To that end, treat this review with a pinch of salt. What worked wonders for me may not work for you. If you’re interested in an unbiased rundown of the Lowa Z8-S, however, look no further.
The Lowa Z8-S (and their smaller brother the Z6) are the spiritual successors to the Lowa Zephyr, and issued to the NZ Army, which is how I first came across them. They’re available in the standard Black and Desert Tan, but also conveniently for us in MOD Brown and in the slightly more outlandish Sage colouring, presumably for our Yank brethren. I purchased a pair of MOD Brown Z8-S in October 2015 and wore them on exercise pretty much continuously in Otterburn and Salisbury Plain for a month straight in November. I also wore them all over the UK on shorter exercises, and on Cambrian Patrol, as well as on two Fan Dances.
Straight out of the box, the Lowa Z8-S were incredibly comfortable, feeling more like a trainer than a conventional combat boot, and required no breaking in whatsoever. This is reflected in the cut of the boot itself, and also the materials used – the outer is heavy duty cordura and suede, with a full GTX lining. It is also available in both heights without the latter, although this would make it into a conventional desert boot, so unsuitable for most UK-based activities. I noticed one individual wearing the GTX version in Kenya, and he didn’t have any complaints about them, but I personally wouldn’t recommend them for that level of heat.
The Lowas come with full eyelet laces and are speedy to lace tight and unlace, but if hook eyelets are a must for you then you’ll have to look elsewhere. I have quite a wide foot and as a consequence don’t get on with some types of boots (Salomons in particular), but Lowas have always suited me perfectly as they tend to be slightly wider and have roomy toeboxes, and the Z8-S is no exception. If you struggle with Salomons or have had a good experience with other Lowa boots, I urge you to consider them.
The GTX lining kept the boots fully waterproof, and provided you’re on the move even with the outer soaked by continuous movement through wet grass your feet will stay warm and dry. In Otterburn, I was constantly in water well over my ankle, and the boots did not let me down. However, if you go static for a while in these conditions, the outer will wet out utterly (being suede and fabric) and press against the GTX lining, which leads to potentially cold feet and also the slightly weird feeling of having wet feet when you actually don’t have.
My first set of Z8-S gave faithful service, as previously mentioned, for a month’s exercise straight, followed by several shorter exes and a number of civvy hikes, never developing any fraying or rips or failures in stitching. However, on an endurance march in the build-up to Cambrian the GTX lining gave up and they wet out utterly, resulting in a soaked pair of feet. I sent an email to Lowa’s UK distributor highlighting the problem and they took in my pair to assess whether the boots had developed a fault. Throughout, Task Force Distribution were incredibly professional and supportive –
so much so that they sent me a brand new pair of Z8-S free of charge to replace my own pair. I wore these on Cambrian straight out the box and didn’t get so much as a hotspot.
In conclusion, though my own pair developed a fault, the boots themselves are excellent. They are extremely comfortable and well-cushioned, so perform well on tabs and other phys events even if on tarmac, and are equally at ease on steep, uneven terrain or performing OBUA drills. The only activities I would not rate them for are extreme cold or hot weather deployments, but they are ideally suited to almost any other task. Get yours here:
Recommended Y/N: Y
This Kit Pest Review was written by Tommasso Lagana. Hopefully you enjoyed it and if you have any thoughts or comments related to this article then leave a comment!