[best for hot hikes]
Wish you could wear sandals, but need the support and protection of light hikers? These ultralight, über-breezy, low-profile shoes have airy mesh uppers that vented well into the humid 90s, reports an Oregon tester. They’re not waterproof, of course, but they dry fast. And they’re comfortable enough for dayhiking and supportive and protective enough for light backpacking. The low-cut Proterra Sport (the Vim is the women’s version) packs decent support in its low-profile sole, which has a thin layer of PU and a TPU arch shank with a removable EVA footbed. Despite the shoes’ light weight and low bulk, another tester found them ideal for carrying a weekend load (up to about 30 pounds) over sand, steep terrain, and slick rock on a rugged coastal trail in Tasmania. A 4-mm drop from heel to toe complements the low center of gravity, and “gave me a balanced feel while scrambling,” he reports.
On the outsole, recessed lugs act like suction cups, enhancing the overall grounded feel, and the sticky, proprietary Merrell rubber adhered to all manner of slippery surfaces, including algae-covered boulders, wet wood, and sand-covered rock. Fit is wide in the forefoot area, allowing toes to spread and feet to swell when the effort and temperature start to climb. $100; 1 lb. 11 oz.; m’s 7-15, w’s 5-11; merrell.com