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Backpacker Editors’ Choice 2008

The year's best packs, boots, tents, jackets, and sleeping bags. Period. Plus, a never-die headlamp, a life-saving beacon, a back-saving ultralight chair, and more innovative, trail-tested gear.
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scarpa kailash

Scarpa Kailash GTX
This all-purpose midweight hits the hiking boot trifecta–great fit, support, and price.

Once in while, we test a piece of gear that looks much like other products crowding the shelves–yet is anything but average. This midcut boot is one of those standouts. It starts with impeccable out-of-the-box fit. The heel cup cradles the rear foot so securely that, without exception, testers reported no slipping or hot spots. The toe box is adequately roomy for the normal swelling that occurs on long days with a heavy pack; the durable suede uppers soften up faster than full-grain leather; and the nicely padded tongue never slips out of place. From Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains to the Colorado Rockies, we found it supportive enough for trail hiking with a 50-pound pack–thanks to ample torsional stiffness and an above-the-ankle cut–yet lean enough for dayhikes. Good forefoot flex gives the boot a "light, quick" feel, editors said. A Gore-Tex membrane keeps feet dry, and it breathes well enough that testers’ socks only got slightly clammy even after hard hiking in temperatures well into the 80s. The lacing system features metal eyelets at the forefoot that help the laces move smoothly and fabric loops at the midfoot that locks them down, so you can adjust the forefoot and ankle independently to micro-tune fit. The Vibram soles held firm on every surface we encountered, and we bashed the reinforced toe and heel through talus and scree without seeing significant wear. Best for medium-volume, medium-width feet. $169; 2 lbs. 12 oz. (men’s 42); half sizes in men’s Euro 38-48, women’s 36-43; (866) 998-2895; scarpa.com.

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