Model: XA Comp 4 GTX
Fast and light meets cushioned and stable in this category-bending hybrid. After Alps days that included long trail miles, snow-covered passes, and pavement pounding getting in and out of villages, one tester said, “They never felt out of place.” Three things elevate this shoe above a beefed-up sneaker.
1) Fit: A medium-volume heel pocket combined with a low-volume midfoot enhances stability on rough surfaces, and an asymmetrical, high-volume forefoot allows for foot swell.
2) Stiff synthetic bands buttress the high ankle shaft and anchor at the lace points, bolstering stability.
3) Excellent arch support let us put in 15-hour days with 50-pound packs—with no excessive foot fatigue. Other features are equally dialed. EVA cushion makes for a pillow-soft heel strike, a Gore-Tex liner ensures waterproofing, and the low-profile tread grips well on all surfaces.
Caveat: The priority here is flex. A half-length thermoplastic “chassis” provides rear-foot support, but some hikers may want more rigid protection under the forefoot. $200; 2 lbs. 4 oz. (9); men’s 7-13, 14; salomon.com