Garmont 9.81 Escape
Get instant, all-day comfort and superb traction with this ultralight waterproof hiker.
Model: 9.81 Escape
When it comes to hard-to-fit feet, we have a ringer on staff: an editor who, after hiking 1,600 miles of the AT, says his “feet are sensitive enough to get blisters from silk slippers.” He put the Evolutions on, hiked a week through Capitol Reef’s foot-chewing terrain, and says, “I didn’t have a single hot spot.” And so it went for nine testers across a wide range of sizes and foot shapes.
Credit TrekSta’s hype-worthy NestFit technology, which uses measurement data culled from three-dimensional laser scans of 20,000 different feet in order to account for every possible pressure point or gap (traditionally, making lasts is more art than science). The result is an amazingly secure fit that’s cradle-comfy but stable enough for surprisingly rugged conditions. That fit, combined with the midcut ankle stability, low weight, and a supportive-but-flexy midsole, puts the Evolution in a category unto itself. “I carried a 50-pound pack through five days of trailless, rocky terrain in Capitol Reef, and my feet were never sore,” says one tester. An elongated toe eliminates any hint of toe bang, and the anatomically shaped footbox leaves room for trail swell without feeling sloppy.
The low-profile tread gripped tenaciously, even on slush-covered slickrock, thanks to fiberglass-impregnated rubber pads. And despite the lightweight construction, it’s built to last: Even after that canyon-country abuse, the Evolution’s fabric upper showed only normal wear and tear, while the sole held up better than average for a shoe this light. Combine all that with reliable Gore-Tex waterproofing and the affordable price, and you get best-in-class performance on every front. $140; 1 lb. 15 oz. (m’s 9); m’s 7-13, w’s 5.5-10.5; trekstausa.com
For trail running and training in warm weather conditions on any terrain from road to path to mountain trails. Feet stay cool with the highly breathable mesh upper. Stability and protection from the trail from the tri-axial chassis®. Two layers of EVA provide exceptional shock absorption. Medium volume fit with roomy toe box. This boot is made with Vegan materials.