Model: Mt. Nebo GTX
Talk about a stimulus package. This all-purpose boot gets hikers going for a fraction of the price of similarly featured models. Testers were impressed by the reliable waterproofing, which is often a weakness in budget boots. “In six months of hiking exclusively in these boots, during an incredibly wet spring and summer, it never failed,” says one Vermont-based tester.
Credit a proprietary waterproof/breathable membrane and the well-designed tongue gussets, which keep water from entering below the cuff. The fabric-and-leather upper—with a slight drop in the back of the ankle cuff, around the Achilles—provides no-rub flex for easy striding. Underfoot, a cushy EVA midsole absorbs shock, and there’s also plenty of protection and support—a gumstick-length nylon shank prevented bruising even on a traverse of New Hampshire’s rocky Presidentials. Despite the soft upper, “it never felt too loose or floppy,” said one tester after hiking 300 miles—on treks from the Adirondacks to the Canadian Rockies—with loads up to 30 pounds.
Quibbles: An Arizona tester reported that the upper’s ample padding, combined with the waterproof membrane, made the boots warmer than a Gore-Tex-lined boot in hot weather. The padded tongue bunched initially, making it hard to cinch the laces until after a few days of break-in. Fits a range of feet, thanks to regular and wide sizes. $89; 2 lbs. 12 oz.; m’s 7-14, w’s 6-11