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March 2008 Boots Review: Mid-Duty Boots

Best All-Around
Scarpa Kailash GTX
Normally we advise against heading out on a three-day trip with a 45-pound pack in brand-new boots. But that’s exactly what our tester did with these mid-cuts, and afterward he said they were instantly comfortable–with a last that seemed custom-made for his foot. Suede uppers soften up immediately, and moderate forefoot flex gives the Kailash a smooth toe-off on trails. Yet the midsole has sufficient cushion and stiffness that his feet didn’t fatigue even on seven-hour days. And they breathed well for waterproof midweights: “My socks weren’t even damp after hours under a hot sun with temps in the 80s,” he said. Best for medium-volume feet. $169; 2 lbs. 12 oz.

Best Buy
Keen Targhee II Mid
From Denali National Park to the Cascades and Tetons, testers loved these mids for long trail miles with loads up to 35 pounds. Like other Keens we’ve used, the fit is comfortably close from heel through midfoot and roomy in the toe box (which testers with bunions appreciated). We like the underfoot cushion, notched collar to prevent Achilles rub, and support for high arches. Traction proved solid on all surfaces except snow, where the boots skated easily. Waterproofing is reliable in most conditions, but one tester soaked the Targhees through while post-holing in Yellowstone snow–we don’t recommend subjecting the boots to that, or to serious off-trail travel. Some women may want to go up a half-size. Best for medium- to high-volume feet. $120; 2 lbs. 2 oz.

Best Women’s Fit
Asolo Attiva GTX

Testers bashed these mid-cuts over 400 miles in the Colorado Rockies, carrying 45-plus pounds, and gushed about the boot’s instant, all-day comfort. They noted the supportive heel cup, lacing that permitted fine-tuning fit, and good flex combined with torsional rigidity off-trail. After a 15-mile day that ended with a downpour, one tester said, “When I reached camp, my feet felt so good I didn’t need to immediately take my boots off.” The outsole is sticky enough for talus-hopping and teetering along knife-edge ridges, but it’s a little squishy for edging. Waterproofing is solid, if not exceptionally breathable. The fabric-leather uppers barely showed wear after all that hard mileage. Best for slightly narrow, low- to medium-volume feet. (Guys, get the same all-around performance from the Flame GTX.) $190; 2 lbs. 4 oz.

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