Montrail Helium GTX
Backpacking a section of Mt. Rainier’s Wonderland Trail that was severely damaged by record flooding, our Northwest editor encountered steep, crumbling gullies, a dense bushwhack, and riverbeds strewn with truck-size boulders and enormous trees. Fortunately, this boot had the support to get him through with a 35-pound pack on board, and it delivered solid traction on a variety of slick and unstable surfaces. “On a stretch of trail that the backcountry rangers tried to discourage us from hiking, it was reassuring to be in a boot that could handle anything,” he said. Even with heavier loads, the Helium felt light and nimble enough for fast striding. The tough synthetic uppers promise several seasons of hard use. Best for medium- to high-volume feet. $220; 3 lbs. 1 oz.
Best Fit for Wide Feet
Montrail Torre GTX Wide
This classic leather mid-cut now comes in a wide version. Our resident paddle-footed editor reports: “Fit was out-of-the-box comfortable even with big loads, and the Torre gets high marks for stability and the tongue’s clean, debris-repelling wrap.” With a soft heel strike, the Torre went easy on his feet on the talus-covered route over Colorado’s Snowmass Mountain and Capitol Peak, yet the stiff midsole protected his soles and provided support for heavy loads. “It’ll handle any load on trail and maybe 50 pounds off-trail,” he said. The Gore-Tex liner kept his feet dry through all-day rain. The sole’s deep, angled lugs bite into the slickest surfaces and shed mud readily. Weakness: mediocre edging. Best for wide, medium-volume feet. $160; 2 lbs. 12 oz.
Tecnica Krypton GTX
“These midweights are for hikers who want one boot to handle hardcore dayhikes, moderate-load backpacking trips, and occasional off-trail routes,” said our tester after trips in Colorado’s Front Range. The padded ankle collar provided excellent support for his weak joints on rocky trails and scrambles, yet the Krypton didn’t feel clunky on fast-paced trail outings. He reported good stability on uneven terrain, even with a 35-pound pack. Patches of synthetic fabric on the upper enhance the breathability of the Gore-Tex-lined boots. The Vibram sole grips well on most surfaces, and a rubber toe cap protects the upper’s suede leather. Best for medium-volume feet. The Ozone GTX is the women’s version. $165; 2 lbs. 8 oz.
Zamberlan Tundra GT
Here’s a rare find: An all-leather mid-cut with great fit and classic construction that weighs less than 3 pounds and costs well under $200. “It’s much lighter and feels faster than a traditional leather boot,” our tester said after a 24-mile hike in Idaho’s Sawtooth Wilderness. Credit a midsole with more flex than in traditional leather midweights, and an ankle height that’s slightly lower than average. Waterproofing is impeccable, and traction reliable. Our tester reported a sure grip even on greasy logs crossing the Queens River. Best for medium-volume feet. $180; 2 lbs. 13 oz.