Model: Quest 4D GTX W
Attention ankle rollers: You can now get big-boot joint protection without big-boot bulk. “I have glass ankles, and the Quests were like a brace,” says one tester who wore them out of the box on a 30-mile, rim-to-river circuit that was both on- and off-trail. Several features enhance stability. A band of rubber wraps around the tall, padded ankle shaft, and the sole features a rigid rubber cup that cradles the heel for lateral stability and ensures rock-solid heel plants on perilous terrain.
But all of that support comes with surprising agility—a result of the relatively low weight and the partial plastic midsole plate that supports the heel and arch without interfering with forefoot flex. It’s not the lightest boot in the test or the most supportive, but “it has the happiest marriage of the two qualities,” says one tester. Designers saved ounces with a nylon/split suede upper; the only drawback is that it doesn’t stand up to cactus spines as well as leather—several testers got poked. The toe area, however, is fortified with a rubber cap. A Gore-Tex liner provides waterproofing. Best for medium- to high-volume feet.