Model: Banks II GTX
If you’re the type of hiker who scoffed at each of the four previous models, deeming them flimsy or simply not enough boot, then the Banks II may be more your style. No doubt they’re burly (testers easily shouldered 40 pounds with them), but they don’t feel like it. “I’ve rarely used a boot that strides as naturally as this one,” said one tester after trips in Colorado’s Front Range, California’s redwood forests, and Colombia’s highlands. A flexible sole and a slight rocker in the toe and heel make for superb ground feel, which let him cruise over rolling trails with ease. “I could let it rip on downhills without fighting the boot, despite its heavy-duty construction,” he says. Ding: The soft outsoles showed wear after days of hard charging on talus and scree.