Our take For fast-and-light missions in tough terrain, our testers turned to this souped-up trail runner. It has the low weight and cushion of a runner, but key upgrades push it into backpacking duty. Molded foam around the cuff provides lateral support under moderate loads, and a mid-foot TPU shank (rather than the standard rock plate used in trail runners) improves torsional stability (and protection from errant rocks and roots). Our tester appreciated both on an ascent of Katahdin in Maine’s Baxter State Park.
The details Arc’teryx shaves weight and boosts breathability with a mesh upper (reinforced with TPU around the toe and side). The Gore-Tex membrane kept our feet dry, but we got sweaty in temps above 80°F.
Trail cred “The Aerios has a snug heel cup, which prevented slippage, even after I accidentally dunked my feet during a river crossing,” one tester says.