Testers who ventured off the beaten path loved the Focus (the QC is the women’s version), calling it ideal for hikers who tackle technical terrain that requires precise footing. “It had enough torsional support to prevent my foot from rolling over while sidehilling or misstepping on rocky trails near Steamboat Springs,” says a tester who felt more nimble in this boot than the others.
“It feels almost like a dayhiker, only stiffer, with moderate-load support that never felt clunky.” Another tester raves, “The arch and ankle support helped me feel completely stable on uneven, off-camber terrain.” The relatively flexible soles offer superior connection with—and feel for—the ground, which, along with the burly rubber toecap, made them great for scrambling.
The low-profile PU midsole and full-length nylon shank gave testers enough support to carry up to 40 pounds, but there was a tradeoff: “When I hiked on uneven, rocky surfaces with a heavy pack, I wished for a thicker, more supportive and protective midsole underfoot,” says a tester. Regular width is best for narrow feet (men’s wide sizes are also available). $220; 3 lbs.; 7-14 (regular and wide); QC: 2 lbs. 1 oz. (7); 5-10.5; lowaboots.com