Jamaicans often make the 7-hour round-trip hike of Blue Mountain Peak (7,402 feet) in no-name gym shoes or even rubber flip-flops, but I was sure glad to have LOWA’s Aerox GTX Lo Surround on my feet.
At first blush, the Aerox looks like the dozen or so other low-cut trail shoes in my closet. It has an abrasion resistant synthetic upper with a rubbery reinforcement wrapping the sides of the shoe. It has a rugged toe and heel bumper, a waffly-pattern tread, and the speed-lacing system that has become so popular in recent seasons. But it also has a highly effective Gore Surround midsole that works better than any other I’ve tried.
My son and I donned headlamps and started the hike at 2 a.m. in the tropical blackness. As we climbed our way up the trail that was at times rain-slick and rocky and at times squishy with mud, we could only imagine what the jungle around us would look like on the hike down.
We got sweaty. It was humid, like only the Caribbean can be at night. And after about a half hour we had stripped down to our T-shirts, despite the steady drizzle and the wee hour.
But here’s the thing about hiking Blue Mountain Peak that always surprises people: When you get to the top, as we did about 20 minutes before sunrise, it’s freezing. Literally. And if you don’t have warm clothes to put over your sweaty ones, you’re gonna be bumming, real fast.
As we waited for the sun to come up and burn away the mist and drizzle, I remembered to check my feet, which I hadn’t given a second of thought to on the way up. (Did I mention that the Aerox’s are wicked comfy?) I slipped off the mud-caked Aeros and found my feet and light wool socks impeccably dry.
I’ve tried other Gore Surround shoes in my day, but none have worked as well as these. LOWA was an early adopter of Surround, and they’ve clearly worked out all the kinks. There are seven channels that run clear through the Aero’s midsole, from side to side. A gridded spacer layer sandwiched inside the midsole creates an air pump, so that which each step, the weight of your foot pushes sweat vapor down through the bottom of the shoe and out the side channels. All that combined with a breathable mesh upper add up to a shoe that kept me feet cool and dry even in the most challenging conditions.
In fact, these shoes are so good at keeping feet cool and dry that you’ll probably not want to wear them in the cold weather. Back home in snowy Boston, my toes were perpetually cold in the Aerox’s. But now that spring is springing, I’m reaching for them again—for hiking, for running (both street and trail), for walking my dog, and for travel, because of their easy, slip-on design.
If you’re a person who always battles sweaty feet and you’re looking for a low-cut all-purpose trail shoe, I highly recommend checking out the LOWA Aerox GTX Lo Surround. Just be prepared to pay up: The price is steep for a low-cut shoe.