Editors' Choice 2013: Asolo Reston/Athena Boots

Enjoy goat-like agility with midweight support.

Yes, we know a pair of shoes can’t make you more coordinated. But one tester swears these midcut fabric-and-suede boots helped her become a more confident scrambler and rock-hopper. “The heel is superstable because it’s low to the ground and not squishy,” she said after a Tasmanian coastal hike that included rainforest scrambles up hillsides covered with slick boulders, stone staircases, and deep mud.

“The outsole and midsole have rounded edges and a uniquely low profile, so I didn’t inadvertently trip on roots, rocks, and other obstacles. I felt notably more balanced and secure in these shoes.” Asolo designed its new line of “natural motion” boots for hikers who want low weight without sacrificing support, and who crave stability in their footwear but don’t want clunky, wide outsoles or stiff structures buttressing the heel and ankle. The Restons (the Athena is the women’s version) have a unique construction: They’re slip-lasted in the rear (the upper is formed by wrapping materials around a mannequin-like foot form or “last”) for maximum flexibility, and they’re board-lasted in the front (the uppers are stretched around an insole-shaped piece of fiberboard that remains in the boot) for optimum forefoot protection from rocky terrain.

“The Athenas are ideal for dayhiking,” reports one tester. “But they also provide the underfoot shielding to keep my feet from feeling bludgeoned after two 12-mile days with a 35-pound pack.” The EVA midsole incorporates an injected full-length TPU insert that gives the sole firmness. “When you plant your foot it feels solid, not squirrelly,” says one tester. Downsides: The rubber compound on the sole isn’t supersticky, so traction on slick roots and slimy rocks is good, not great. And one tester wished for more cushioning under the heel; some hikers might need an aftermarket insole. $189; 2 lbs. 6 oz. (m’s 11); m’s 7-14, w’s 6-11; asolo-usa.com

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small commission. We do not accept money for editorial gear reviews. Read more about our policy.