Insulated backpacking boots with enough support for 50-pound packs are hard to come by, and the Vioz Top filled the niche beautifully on a chilly three-day Long Trail hike. It looks like a super-high-cut backpacking boot with a full-grain leather upper–which it is. But inside is a fleecy layer of Gore-Tex Duratherm; you won’t know it’s there until temps drop and your feet stay warm. The one-piece leather upper is sewn to a soft nubuck cuff that flexes as you walk, and supple nubuck cutouts above and below the ankle mean zero break-in.
A gusseted and contoured tongue keeps out snow and eliminates lace pressure; a broad rubber rand and plastic reinforcements minimize wear and help maintain shape. Locking lace hooks at the ankle let you tighten upper and lower laces independently. “I ate up the miles in these, thanks to a pronounced rocker and solid underfoot cushioning,” says our tester. “The grippy sole shed dirt and snow, with good grab on the uphills and good braking on the downs.” Best for narrow to medium feet. $309; 4 lbs.; men’s 8-13; zamberlan.com