For any national park traveler, good footwear is essential. In your travels to or from Yosemite, stop by Lowa Boot’s demo center in the Clair Tappaan Lodge, in Norden, Calif., in the Lake Tahoe area. Lowa’s staff are masters at their craft, having been making boots since 1923. While the company sells boots around the country it also offers four demo centers for travelers to take their boots for a test hike. Two centers are near Yosemite and Rocky Mountain national parks and two are along the Appalachian Trail: one in Pinkham Notch, N.H., and the other in Blairstown, N.J.
“At our demo centers, anyone can try our boots for a day for free,” says Lesley Christoph, marketing manager for Lowa boots. “We want people to have great experiences in the national parks. Having the right footwear is critical. Our demo centers allow people to understand how wearing the proper hiking boot can really improve their time on the trail. It helps us introduce our product to folks who might not be familiar with our products.”
Lowa’s program is called, “Take a Hike on Us!” meaning you can spend an entire day hiking in their boots free of charge. Their boots range from low-cut, general trail boots all the way to sturdier ankle-high boots for longer, more intense hikes.
Many national park hikers know that the terrain making up the majority of each park is rocky and uneven, something not to be done in boat shoes. Coming into one of these demo centers prior to your trip could be the difference between a successful hike and a twisted ankle.
The Most Versatile Lowa Boot
The “Renegade GTX Mid” boots are the brand’s top seller. The design has stood the test of time, rounding on its 20th anniversary.
“It is the most versatile boot that we have in our line for national park hiking,” says Christoph. “It fits a great number of foot sizes and shapes.”
“It is an all-weather boot, a mid-cut, so it gives you good ankle support and superb support under-foot,” says Christoph. “It has a very accommodating fit, so most people will find that it will work for their feet.”
For the average hiker going to Yosemite, the Renegade GTX could be the choice for you. That is unless another member of Lowa’s demo fleet catches your eye.
“There are beefier boots that are better used for climbing a fourteener or going on a longer outing.” says Christoph. “Then we also have a few lightweight, low-cut, all around trail shoes as well.”
Try out the Camino GTX® or Lady Light GTX® for the more intense escapades on your list. These boots are perfect for longer hikes or backpacking trips when you’re carrying a heavier load.
When and Where to Stop by Lowa's Demo Center
Lowa’s demo center seasons go from Memorial Day to Labor Day, which will also be your best bet for good hiking weather. The Norden, Calif., location is a 3.5 hour drive to the east entrance of Yosemite, and the location of the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park is a short 10-15 minute drive to Rocky Mountain National Park.
“Over any given season (Memorial Day to Columbus Day) our demo centers see hundreds of visitors,” says Christoph. “Usually upwards of 1,000 people a summer. Of course, when boots are worn out, they are taken out of the demo fleet and are usually given away at that point.”
Test out some of the best footwear available for national park hiking by stopping into a Lowa demo center prior to your hike.
“It certainly gives us a great opportunity to help people understand why a good hiking boot is important to their experience and will help them have a better time outside,” says Christoph.
For more information:
Clair Tappaan Lodge Sierra Magazine Demo Center
19940 Donner Pass Rd, Norden, CA 95724