If you need an ATV of a boot that’s supportive enough for big-load backpacking or mountaineering, the Croda (Syncro is the women’s) is your ride. “When I hiked the North Fork Quinault River Trail in Washington, the Croda bulldozed through river crossings, branches, mud, and snow,” says one tester. The cut is the highest in the test, and the midsole is rigid and thick. Break-in required. $215; 3 lbs. 3 oz.; 8-14; Syncro GTX: $235; 2 lbs. 9 oz. (7); 6-11; garmontusa.com
Garmont Croda GTX
Walter: My favorites for demanding hikes. Sturdy, strong, stiff enough for any terrain, but also very comfortable. These boots are a good alternative to full mountaineering boots. Great boots for anybody who doesn’t mind a little extra weight on their feet—in exchange for great protection and excellent traction.
Ted Alvarez: These were the heaviest boots in test, and they felt like it. For me, they’re too much for a dayhike, but other than that, this is a do-anything, go-anywhere, maximum-support boot. Not personally my style, but bomber for all kinds of conditions. On a dayhike up the Olympic coast from Kalaloch, these bad boys were overkill: Sure, I had excellent protection from surf, sinking sand, and great traction over seaweed-slicked Sitka logs, but I never forgot about the moon boots on my feet. They were better served on a hike up the North Fork Quinault, where they bulldozed through river crossings and over ball-bearing gravel alike.
Garmont Syncro GTX
Barbara Weiss: Once you’ve scored a pair of these you may not need another boot for—well—years. Seriously. Stiff when it counts, yet flexible enough for optimal comfort under a mid-weight pack, the Vibram soles with waterproof leather uppers will warm the cockles of your heart, not to mention your toes. I appreciated the excellent stability and traction when it counts, these boots scored big with me on all types of terrain in every weather situation.
Shayla Paradeis: The stiffness of these boots offered incredible support underfoot and around the ankles, and the fabric was strong and protective in snow, but breathability was a deal-breaker for me. I’d say these are great for heavy-duty backpacking in colder temps, especially if your ankles tend to roll.