The latest waterproof/breathable technology to hit the scene–Hi-Tec’s ion mask–impressed us in this lightweight leather midcut. Testers tromped for hours through rain and flooded trails in Colorado, and reported that it trumps Gore-Tex (but not eVent) in breathability. The jury is still out on waterproofing, though. One pair leaked after 10 minutes of submersion in a rushing stream, and a few testers got wet feet during stream crossings due to a design issue (see below). The ion mask, a chemical treatment applied to the boot’s surface, purportedly does not wear off; watch for a follow-up report after we’ve tracked durability for a few more months.
This boot, the only model we’ve seen with ion mask, is built for trail hiking with a 25- to 30-pound pack; it lacks the support and underfoot protection for heavier loads and serious off-trail adventures. As for those wet feet, the tongue isn’t gusseted to its top, so the “waterproofing” only really extends from the toe to just below the ankle bone. Best for medium-volume feet. $135; 2 lbs. 5 oz. Hi-tec.com