Most brands wouldn't tinker with a top performer. But Hi-Tec decided that a real commitment to going green required an overhaul of its most popular boot. Step one: It turned to one of the world's top tanneries for a lower-impact leather, achieving a three-percent carbon savings. (The tannery burns leather byproduct for energy, among other green techniques.) Step two: It used injection-molded EVA, eliminating all midsole waste. Step three: It switched to water-based glues, a 15-percent-recycled rubber outsole, and a 100-percent-recycled liner, shank, and insole, saving about two percent more. Cooler says Hi-Tec could reduce impact even more with lighter leather (testers said it wouldn't hurt on-trail) and by purchasing carbon offsets (it's the only participant that doesn't). That said, this company clearly made a huge first step with a shoe that remains remarkably affordable.
Testers praised this full-height boot for its ample Achilles cutout, which eliminated rubbing on downhills, and its recycled steel shank, which provided plenty of oomph for carrying 40 pounds. "It had the best ankle support in the test, but didn't need break-in, and never gave me blisters," reports an Adirondacks tester. Bummer: a bit of slippage on wet rocks. $105; 2 lbs. 13 oz. (m's 10); hi-tec.com
*This boot had a 35-45% reduction in environmental impact over business as usual.