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Gear Review: More Tester Picks Shoes

Perfect your stride with this myriad selection.

TRAIL RUNNING

adidas Outdoor Terrex Fast R Mid GTX
With aggressively lugged outsoles made from Continental mountain-bike-tire rubber, the Terrex Fast R Mid GTX helps trail runners grip wet and muddy surfaces with ease. These waterproof midcuts proved nimble for running and sufficiently supportive for dayhiking with pack weights of up to 15 pounds on rocky basalt trails in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia Gorge. A thin plastic shock plate between the midsole and outsole absorbs impact from roots and rocks. $200; 1 lb. 12 oz.; adidas.com

 

Dynafit Feline Superlight 
Nimble and versatile, this ski company’s first trail running shoe helped a seasoned climber feel cat-like as he pounced from trail to boulder to crag in Colorado mountain terrain. The Vibram outsole’s precise traction is grounded in three densities of V-shaped lugs: soft in the forefoot for sticky grip, medium in the midfoot and heel for durability, and hard perimeter lugs to claw dirt and rock. “I never slipped on gravel, mud, ice, or snow,” our tester says. $160; 1 lb. 6 oz. (m’s 9.5); dynafit.com 

 

Montrail FluidFeel
Those who prefer a traditional trail running feel will enjoy the ground protection and grip of these Montrails. An 8-mm drop from heel to toe and a springy foam midsole that flares out toward the ground result in a stable, cushy ride. The outsole mixes hard rubber lugs with pockets of blown-rubber (it’s soft and grippy but less durable) under the big toe and medial edge of the forefoot for reliable traction on mud and gravel. Fits true to size, with wiggle room for toes. $110; 1 lb. 5 oz.; montrail.com

 

LIGHT DUTY

Keen Tunari CNX
These ultralight dayhikers have a barefoot feel. A low-profile PU midsole and 4-mm heel-drop enhanced stability for one tester foraging for mushrooms off-trail in Oregon. The shoe is made with a reversed strobel construction, a technique that creates a smooth interior surface with fewer foot-facing seams that can cause friction. The fit is a bit less roomy in the forefoot than other Keen models. $110; 1 lb. 4 oz.; keenfootwear.com

 

Oboz Traverse Low
“They’re not the lightest, but I appreciate the underfoot shielding,” says one tester. The -length, TPU-reinforced EVA midsole with nylon shank kept sharp rocks from punching into her soles on a long, talus-strewn descent from Colorado’s 10,839-foot Hahns Peak. These nonwaterproof, low-cut hikers also reduced her foot fatigue, thanks to a snug-fitting, cushioned heel and deluxe insole. $125;
2 lbs. `1 oz.; obozfootwear.com

 

Vibram FiveFingers SeeYa LS 
Whether you’re a barefoot running aficionado or just want a killer camp shoe, the SeeYa delivers more versatility than you’d expect for their low weight. They take up about 1 x 10 x 4.5 inches per pair (for size 40)—small enough to fit in a side or lid pocket—yet the TPU midsole and EVA insole pack decent foot protection, and the Vibram rubber outsole gloms onto wet rock for safe creek crossings. $100; 10 oz. (43); vibramfivefingers.com

 

MEDIUM DUTY

Danner NOBO Mid 
“The great arch support and padding in the ankles, plus their light weight, made these some of the most comfortable boots I’ve worn out of the box,” said one tester after two months of daily conditioning hikes in Lewisville State Park, Washington. The NOBO Mid is lightweight for a Gore-Tex lined, mostly nubuck leather boot, but it doesn’t skimp on protection, with a TPU-reinforced EVA midsole and tall rubber rand stretching from the toe to midfoot. $160; 2 lbs. 11 oz.; danner.com

 

Salomon Synapse Mid 
After climbing 5,100 feet in Chile’s central Andes, one tester hailed the Synapse Mids as “the perfect blend of cushion and security in an incredibly light package.” A tall, wide-platform, springy EVA midsole delivers stable performance, while a snug synthetic upper and one-pull lacing lock your foot in place. A rockered sole and higher-than-average drop from heel to toe (14 mm) helped quicken our tester’s stride. Tightly woven mesh across much of the upper delivers hot-weather breathability, yet it still repelled grit and debris on dusty trails and bushwhacks. $160; 1 lb. 10 oz.; salomon.com

 

Saucony Adventerra GTX 
A waterproof midheight trail runner that doubles as a hiking boot, the Adventerra was the all-purpose choice for one Colorado fastpacker who wore it in snow and mud in the Boulder foothills. “Four bands of plastic (TPU) overlays on the upper wrap securely around the heel to the top four laces in front, enhancing stability,” he says. $170; 1 lb. 14 oz.; saucony.com

 

Scarpa Tech Ascent
“This boot has a ton of support for the weight,” says one tester who wore the Gore-Tex lined boots while shouldering a hefty 45-pound pack on a family trip into Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness. The PU midsole supported his heavy load, and the asymmetrical lacing, tall rubber rand, and smooth-treaded zone under the big toe are ideal for easy rock climbing and scrambling. Fit is best for medium- to high-volume feet. $219; 2 lbs. 7 oz. (42); scarpa.com

 

TrekSta Evolution Mid GTX
The fit and comfort of this ultralight waterproof hiker earned it a 2011 Editors’ Choice Award. An elongated toe eliminates any hint of toe bang, and the anatomically shaped footbox leaves room for trail swell without feeling sloppy. Ideal for fastpacking and heavy-load backpacking (up to 50 pounds), the midcut Evolution earned praise for its solid ankle stability, low weight, and a supportive but flexible midsole—and an affordable price. $160; 1 lb. 15 oz.; trekstausa.com

 

HEAVY DUTY

Asolo Drifter GV 
These waterproof mid-height boots proved stable, supportive, and protective for one tester
who wore them for a week of hiking in Tasmania. A TPU plate in the EVA midsole provides torsional
stiffness, while a sturdy rubber toe bumper and PU rand on the sides of the boot shielded his feet
from punishing rocks. “The Drifters excelled when I climbed off-trail, over steep terrain, with a 40-pound pack. But they were plenty light for fast trail striding, especially when I decided to drop my pack and run to catch the sunset atop Mt. Jerusalem.”
$230; 2 lbs. 11 oz.; asolo-usa.com

The North Face Verbera Backpacker GTX
“Stiff and protective, yet comfortable, these burly boots kept me going strong during long days of backpacking on hard granite trails in California’s Trinity Alps Wilderness,” says one tester. Tough Italian leather, a polypropylene lasting board, TPU shank, PU rand, and internal heel and toe counters all proved plenty durable and supportive for off-trail scrambling with a 45-pound load. Bonus: A superior footbed, with a stiffener around the perimeter of the heel and arch, added to the overall support. Fits true to size. $260; 3 lbs. 8 oz.; thenorthface.com

 

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