Model: Contact Dual
When the terrain, load, and weather require maximum performance—but you still want minimum weight—choose this foot fortress. The Vertigo Dual is the fabric/leather cousin of the all-leather Vertigo High, which earned a 2007 Editors’ Choice Award for its amazing big-boot fit, support, and comfort. The Dual retains what we loved about the original, but delivers it in a more agile package with an upper that incorporates relatively lightweight and flexy synthetic materials.
That, combined with a sharply lugged Vibram sole that grips like an approach shoe, proved ideal for tricky footing (think big-load bushwhacking up a slippery ravine). One tester reported zero traction problems on a speedy descent of New York’s trailless Mt. Marshall. Yet there’s no sacrifice in durability. The nylon and microfiber in the upper proved exceptionally tough, as did the thick rubber rand that wraps the boot from heel to toe. Support and torsional stiffness are similarly without compromise. An exterior heel sling (made of synthetic leather) sweeps from arch to rear, enhancing stability.
And go ahead, pile on the pounds: The midsole’s full-length polyethylene shank and plastic heel-to-arch stabilizer can manage monster loads. Also like its predecessor, the Dual’s eVent liner makes it totally waterproof and more breathable than average for this category. Bonus: A crampon shelf at the heel is compatible with semiautomatic crampons*—ideal for light mountaineering. $230; 3 lbs. 3 oz.; m’s 8-14, w’s 6-10