Columbia Conspiracy III

This shoe is a light hiker and a trail runner in one.

Versatility

Can one shoe really offer stiff support for hiking and springiness for running? Columbia’s proprietary blend of EVA in the midsole—it’s the stuff they use in their backpack straps, and stiffer than most other midsole foams—does both. That meant we could comfortably backpack in them (with up to 25 pounds) and then wear them on an 8-mile trail run, as one tester did in California’s Trinity Alps.

Protection

The Conspiracy’s sturdy midsole protects against underfoot rocks, but for the most rugged terrain we wished for a more ample rand around the toe and foot to protect against bangs.