Brand: XPG Mid Gore-Tex
“After hauling my camp shoes through California’s Inyo National Forest, I didn’t even wear them,” one tester says. “I never wanted to take these boots off.” Another tester, who suffers from plantar fasciitis, said he didn’t need aftermarket insoles—as he typically does—with the XPGs. Credit the OrthoLite brand footbed, which conforms to the foot’s shape for comfort, but then rebounds back to its original shape, like a memory foam mattress, to prevent it from getting packed out (and less comfy) over time.
Testers’ feet stayed dry (and never sweaty) in a range of conditions—East Coast mud, High Sierra slush, and Colorado snow—thanks to the breathable Gore-Tex membrane. They’re not insulated, however, so pair with warmer socks in low temps (bring your socks to the store when trying on).
Aggressive Vibram outsoles proved ideal in wet conditions. “Grip was way above-average during mud season in New Hampshire and Maine,” says our Boston tester. “Wet rock wasn’t a problem,” echoes our Sierra tester. Credit the Vibram outsole that mixes opposite inclination lugs (like a snow tire) on top of a TPU frame for stability.
The tradeoff for featherlight weight? Support. “They seemed pretty flimsy under loads of 30 pounds or more,” one tester reports.
“I hiked 40 miles on these right out of the box and didn’t come away with a single blister,” a wide-footed tester reports. Best for medium to wide feet.
$140; 1 lb. 14 oz. (w’s 7); cabelas.comOrthoLite foot bed