*ARCH SUPPORT Learn how to measure your arches and get the right support at backpacker.com/howtowalk.
Long days of pounding down trails with heavy loads can tenderize the soles of your feet and cause joint pain. The P26 High can help, thanks to exceptionally thick underfoot padding (1.5 inches under the heel, tapering down to half an inch at the toes) made from a high-rebound EVA. “It gives the sensation of walking on spring-loaded shocks,” says one tester who logged 10-mile days with a 35-pound pack on Grand Canyon trails. “My feet felt fresher, and my knees didn’t ache even after longer days with huge elevation change.”
A contoured plastic shank and a tall collar that laces up snugly gave her the ankle and arch support* she needed to negotiate the 5,000-foot descent from the rim to river in a day. And even with the heavily padded sole and an all-leather upper (note: no waterproof lining), the P26 is exceptionally light for this class of boot, which adds to its springy, airy feel. The tradeoff for the thick, spongy sole: The boot can feel unstable and imprecise when you’re scrambling off-trail and sidehilling. $200; 2 lbs. 6 oz.; m’s 7-15; patagonia.com