Merrell Capra Sport Low

Ventilated mesh uppers make these hikers ideal for hot weather.

Breathability

A lot of hikers buy waterproof shoes “just in case.” But that strategy can backfire in summer because a waterproof membrane can lead to sweaty feet, and sweaty feet can lead to blisters. Our dogs never overheated in the Capra, even on 100°F hikes in Nevada’s Sierra Buttes, thanks to a nonwaterproof, airy-weave mesh upper.

Support

The well-cushioned heel tapers down to lighter cushioning in the toes, giving the Capras a soft, comfortable stride. We thought of them as a pair of running shoes with a boot sole. But don’t overdo the weight: On a 32-mile hike to Nevada’s Paradise Lakes, a 52-pound pack proved too much for the Capra’s EVA midsole. “My feet were screaming by the end,” our tester says. “These are best with loads under 40 pounds.”

Traction

The Vibram Megagrip outsole features a tacky compound that makes the entire sole ideal for scrambling. We felt goat-like in all sorts of terrain, including wet rocks and slimy roots on coastal hikes in Maui. The only time we noticed slipping? On steep gravel or scree, most likely due to the shallow lugs.

Break-In

The soles start out laterally stiff and take some breaking in to loosen up. Wear them for a day or two around the house before longer hikes.