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Originally published Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 12:06 AM

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Getting in Gear

Gear review: Snowshoers, here's your boot

Snowshoers have been frustrated in the search for a boot that gives both warmth and support. But Lowa's Paluk GTX fills the need, gear reviewer Dan Nelson finds.

Special to The Seattle Times

Get ski and boarding conditions all winter long with webcams, snow alerts and more at seattletimes.com/snowsports

Even though snowshoeing has grown in popularity every year for the last 15 or so years, participants still struggle to find quality footwear appropriate for their sport.

That's evidenced by the repeated e-mails I received following last month's Snow Sports section that featured a review of new snowshoes. I sympathize with those frustrated readers. Snowshoers need warmth and support in their boots, but all too often they end up choosing one or the other.

Fortunately, a few companies do understand the needs of winter hikers, and one of them, Lowa, offers a new boot that may be the best snowshoe boot I've ever used. We've tested these new Paluk GTX boots while kicking around the Cascades for the last few weeks, snowshoeing up through the Paradise meadows of Mount Rainier, over the knolls that line Hurricane Ridge in the Olympics, and up and down the woodland meadows of the Blewett Pass area.

I've found that the Paluks offer the perfect mix of foot and ankle support, weather (water) protection and warmth. A proprietary lining provides superb insulation, while Gore-Tex bonded to a waterproof synthetic leather upper ensures your feet stay dry. A light rubber rand encircles the lower section of the boot, offering additional water protection, but more importantly, a durable nonslip surface for snowshoe bindings to grip. A multi-density outsole bites into snow yet sheds it easily so you don't end up with clumps underfoot.

The Paluk GTX boots are billed as mid-height, though the cuffs are high enough to ensure snow doesn't creep in over the top. Add a pair of gaiters and there's absolutely no way snow will get into the boot. The Paluks are available in men's half sizes, 8-12, as well as size 13 and 14. They sell for $190. Women who find those sizes not fitting may consider the Lowa Women's Trident GTX — a boot with most of the same features as the Paluk, though with a natural nubuck leather upper and a more aggressive tread on the outsoles. They sell for $180. More information: www.lowaboots.com.

Freelancer Dan A. Nelson, of Puyallup, is a regular contributor to Backpacker magazine, and an author of outdoor guides with The Mountaineers Books. For the purpose of review, gear manufacturers lend products, which are returned after a typical use of four to six weeks. There is no payment from manufacturers and they have no control over the content of reviews. Contact Dan with gear-related questions at gearguy@adventuresnw.net.

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