Most boots feel good for the first mile; it’s how they feel the last mile that really counts. The Drifters aced that test. After a long day of hiking around Smuggler’s Cove on Santa Cruz Island in California’s Channel Islands National Park, our tester said, “I didn’t feel like taking them off!” The Drifters owe their superior comfort to low weight and excellent cushioning. The shock absorption comes from an air-cushioned EVA footbed with a PU board-lasted midsole.
That construction stiffens the heel and midfoot areas for torsional rigidity, yet still provides a flexible toe-off and comfortable stride. “They’re light for the support and protection they offer,” raved another tester after carrying a 40-pound pack up Washington’s Mt. Adams while wearing the Drifters. “I also like the two pairs of locking eyelets on the ankles that secure the laces and make it easy to adjust the tightness.” Breathability is above-average for a waterproof shoe: “Even in 90°F temps, my feet didn’t get clammy,” says our Channel Islands tester. Credit mesh on the top and sides that enhances ventilation. Best for medium- to high-volume feet. $185; 2 lbs. 5 oz.; m’s 7-15, w’s 5-11; patagonia.com