This boot shined in the worst conditions. After covering miles of slippery rock on Vermont's Jay Peak while carrying a 30-pound pack, one tester said, "I felt agile and secure even while speed hiking on slick, uneven terrain." Credit the climbing-shoe-like heel sling that wraps the Achilles and anchors into the sole and laces for confidence-inspiring stability. Five testers with feet ranging from narrow to wide agreed that the Exum fits like it's custom made, thanks to the to-the-toe lacing, which provides maximum adjustability.
The full-length polypro shank and shock-absorbing EVA foam layers provide the protection and support of a much heavier, bulkier, and more expensive boot. The dot pattern on the forefoot of the sole and the lugged heel are made with Sportiva's proprietary FriXion rubber compound; the tread stuck fast on rocky slabs yet didn't retain mud on sloppy trails.
Bonus: Sandpapery urethane abrasion pads around the perimeter kept this mesh and synthetic-leather shoe looking new even after months of wear.
Best for: a wide range of foot shapes. Sizes men's 6-13.5; women's 5.5-11.5 Weight 1 lb. 11 oz. Price $95 Info lasportiva.com