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March 2008 Boots Review: Mid-Duty Boots

Lightest
Aku Suiterra Injected GTX

After a 25-miler in the Tetons, our Northwest editor declared this high-cut a versatile performer for its low weight. The fit is luxurious, cradling the heel and supporting the arch while allowing the toes enough space to avoid jamming on long, steep descents. The boots remained comfortable throughout a 10-hour day carrying 35 pounds. With a moderately stiff midsole, excellent torsional rigidity, and a rigid exoskeleton, the Suiterras proved super stable during miles of off-trail scrambling. Yet a collar that flexes in all directions made for easy trail striding: “I practically jogged down the numerous switchbacks of the Alaska Basin Trail,” he said. Most impressively, they weigh in a half-pound or more lighter than comparable models. Waterproofing proved flawless, but breathability was just OK; they felt a little warm on hot days. Best for medium-volume feet. $210; 2 lbs. 6 oz.

Garmont Sitka XCR
These boots perform well above their weight class. “I wore them on a three-day scramble through Utah’s Waterpocket Fold, and they felt featherweight and bouncy underfoot, yet they had the support and armor to bash around on steep, fractured rocks,” our Rocky Mountain editor said. Ventilation is good for a waterproof leather model, thanks to a fabric tongue that seems to pump in air with every stride. The deeply lugged outsole with its beveled edge feels plenty stable. Traction is decent and it excels at striding. Bottom line: A great value for moderate-load backpacking in rough terrain and soggy weather. Best for wider, high-volume feet. $160; 2 lbs. 8 oz.

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