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If you're not a fan of bright colors, reflectors, and flashy styling, shopping for athletic shoes can feel like a choice between bad and worse. Those of us who prefer the “gray man” aesthetic lean towards subdued colors and a simple exterior, but may still want the performance of a high-quality athletic shoe for walking, running, and light trail use. Some of us may even require this for work, as certain professions require a solid-color shoe as part of the dress code or uniform.
Footwear manufacturer LOWA offers a Task Force (TF) line of shoes that are based on its regular consumer footwear models, but produced exclusively in subdued colors. The LOWA TF line was originally developed for British Special Forces, but they're also used extensively by security professionals, law enforcement officers, members of other military organizations, or anyone else who simply prefers to keep a lower visual profile.
We recently picked up a pair of the Task Force variant of the LOWA Innox Evo, in order to replace our previous pair of worn-out walking/running shoes. We opted for the Lo version in Wolf gray color, although these are also offered in Mid cut and available in black or Coyote brown. Like all LOWA shoes, these are made in Europe (specifically Slovakia).
We've used the Innox Evo TF extensively around town, as well as on some casual weekend hikes where a full pair of boots would've been overkill. The shoes feel light and flexible, and the open mesh upper offers excellent breathability for warm climates. The MonoWrap frame technology we liked so much on our LOWA Renegade GTX boots is also present here, providing a strong foundation without excessive weight.
The tread pattern is grippy enough for scrambling over rocks and gravel, but not too aggressive for use on city sidewalks. This makes it a great daily-use shoe, and a good complement to the hiking boots we mentioned earlier. The Innox Evo's breathability is a downfall for wet weather, as rain will quickly soak through the mesh upper. LOWA offers a waterproof Gore-Tex version of the Innox, but it's $55 more, only available in black, and its upper design looks dated compared to the sleek Evo.
We appreciate that all shoes and boots from the Task Force line can be bought directly from LOWA's web site — this isn't the case for the competitive Salomon Forces line, which is only available through third-party dealers, leading to variations in pricing and availability. The TF version of this shoe also shares the same $145 MSRP as the ordinary models, so there's no “tactical tax” applied here.
Overall, we liked the Innox Evo TF enough to start wearing it on an everyday basis, rather than as a secondary shoe for long walks or trail-running. For those who need a well-rounded solid-color shoe and don't expect to get wet, this is a great choice. For more info on the Innox Evo TF and other LOWA Task Force footwear, go to LowaBoots.com.