Your objective: a big peak miles deep in the backcountry, with plenty of on- and off-trail hiking, then scrambling, to reach the summit. Your shoes: the Wildfire GTX. Our tester found the Wildfire perfect for a 14-mile hike and climb of 10,229-foot Mt. Heyburn in Idaho’s Sawtooths. After scrambling up loose scree and then steep slabs that required delicate smearing, he declared: “The Wildfires are some of the most comfortable approach shoes I’ve tried. They have the midsole support and forefoot flex you need for all-day hiking, plus good sensitivity and grip for scrambling, thanks to a smooth, lug-free area of outsole beneath the big toe.” To keep the weight down, Salewa uses heat- and compression-molding rather than glue to apply all components of the exoskeleton. Lacing extends to the toes for rock-shoe sensitivity, but the Wildfires also have a pronounced rocker in the sole, which helps keep a hiker’s stride fast and fluid.
Custom fit: Each shoe comes with two insoles, narrow and medium, which let you fine-tune fit for sock type and foot shape. Grip is good, not great: “The soles could be a little stickier,” our tester said after wearing them on easy rock climbs and scrambles. $159; 1 lb. 14 oz.; m’s 7-13, w’s 6-11; salewa.us