Editors' Choice 2013: Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR

Get no-compromise lightweight boots that perform like heavyweights.

“These aren’t the lightest high-cut boots I’ve worn,” reports an editor with almost 20 years of testing experience, “but they strike the best balance of weight savings, ankle support, and heavy-duty load-worthiness.” Many lightweight high-cuts trim grams by subtly lowering the ankle cuff, employing less-stiff upper materials, dropping a deeper Achilles notch, or minimizing midsole structure. “Just a half-inch less height on the cuff can make a huge difference for chronic ankle rollers like me,” he says. And a flexible trail runner-style midsole can leave your feet mighty sore when carrying a real backpacking load for 10 to 15 miles.

The Crosser keeps the key features that make a traditional midweight boot the best choice for multiday trips with up to 45 pounds, but saves weight with lighter synthetic materials, adroitly placed structural supports (like a deep heel cup), a TPU plate under the arch, and a minimalist outsole (no heavy rubber lugs). The result is a sturdy, all-purpose backcountry boot that’s light enough for speedy dayhikes yet tough enough for strap-on crampons and light mountaineering.

A rockered profile helps keep the pace up by easing the toe-off phase of the stride while you’re hiking and climbing, and the low-profile Vibram sole gripped well on slick Oregon rocks and steep Utah sandstone. Despite the trimmed-down outsole, the Crosser doesn’t skimp on protection, thanks to a Gore-Tex lining, plus Kevlar and Cordura wrapping the sides like a rand. Footbed cushioning is minimal; add an aftermarket insole for more spring and to adjust fit, which runs a bit wide in the forefoot. $170; 2 lbs. 6 oz. (m’s 11); m’s 8-14, w’s 6-11; zamberlan.com

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