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August 2005

Boot Review: Five Light Hikers

Introducing a new breed of synthetic boots: fast, nimble, and surprisingly supportive.

Garmont Flash XCR
Sturdy and snug, these rugged boots are best-in-class for off-piste adventures.

©Mitch Mandel

Whether backpacking with more than 40 pounds or traversing steep off-trail slopes, the Flash gave us unmatched support and durability. Credit goes to the plastic exoskeletal ribs, which stabilize the upper, and a rigid polyurethane midsole that doesn’t buckle under heavy loads and sidehilling. Even after more than 100 miles, the protective rubber toe cap and tough outsole looked almost new. Testers found them appropriately snug in the heel and through the arch, with good toe space in the forefoot. The XCR liner and leather reinforcements made them one of the test’s standouts in wet conditions, repelling drenching rain on a New Brunswick trek; the tradeoff is that they’re slightly less breathable than the competition. The tongue is well-padded and the lacing is fast and secure. The Vibram sole gripped well on most surfaces, but the lack of an in-cut heel for downhill braking led to numerous butt plants for a tester on slick North Cascades climber trails. Lastly, they’re not as light and nimble as softer models. Get these if you want a downsized version of a traditional backpacking boot. Best for medium-width, low- to medium-volume feet.

Price: $130

Sizes: men’s 8-12½, 13, 14; women’s 5-10½, 11

Weight: 2 lbs., 8 oz.

Contact: (802) 658-8322;

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