Hi-Tec Peak II
The Peak II’s price approaches dayhiker territory, but these boots can handle a weeklong trek. They have sneaker-comfort out of the box, with enough support for loads up to 40 pounds. They’re best for hikers who favor trails over bushwhacking, due to less lateral stability and sole stiffness and a slightly lower ankle cut compared to other models here. The leather-lined collar cradled testers’ ankles, and an ample cutout in the Achilles heel made them comfortable even for our two female testers (women tend to have lower, larger calf muscles). Testers loved the wide toebox, which accommodated end-of-day swelling, and the locking laces kept feet securely in place to minimize friction. After a wintry hike in New Hampshire, one tester reported good traction even on snow and ice. The Peak II’s eVent membrane kept feet dry and proved supremely breathable. And the footbed had the best arch support in the test. Bummer: The tongue is cut oddly short–it tended to slide down below the laces, requiring frequent retying. Best for high-volume, wide feet. $150; 3 lbs. 8 oz.; men’s 7–12, 13. (800) 521-1698; hi-tec.com.
Big-Trip Boots: Trail BlazersGet maximum support, traction, and protection without wafflestomper weight or break-in. Welcome to the new breed of all-terrain, any-load boots.