Two years ago, we gave an Editors’ Choice Award to this boot’s predecessor, the Alp Trainer Mid, for its versatile fit and all-purpose performance in mountain terrain. The Hike Trainer shares that DNA, but shaves an ounce by cutting some lacing hardware, and enhances comfort even more by using supple nubuck and suede. What hasn’t changed: It’s incredibly stiff, strong, and protective for a shoe that excels at scrambling as well as hiking. “The medium-stiff Vibram soles protected my feet through rocky terrain, on- and off-trail, while the rubber toe bumper kept my toes happy all day,” says one tester who breezed 4,700 feet up Rocky Peak in the Adirondacks. A mini-gaiter-like neoprene cuff at the top of the ankles kept out all debris.
Support for loads up to 40 pounds comes from the boot’s burly outsole, molded and injected midsole, and a steel-wire frame that encircles the heel cup and connects to the sole for rock-solid ankle support. “A smooth, sticky area under the toe area gripped all surfaces and helped with edging,” says our tester. Customize fit: Salewa includes a two-part insole. One is standard size and one is a bit wider, and they can be nested together or used separately to dial in volume. Missing ingredient: Testers wanted a pair of locking eyelets at the ankle bend to keep heels securely in place. Best for narrow- to medium-width feet. $189;