Model: Ribelle HD
Sure, trail runners are great, but on gear-heavy hikes and mountaineering trips, you’ll still need something more heavy-duty, no matter how many ounces you shave. These 6 backpacking boots are burly enough to handle the mileage and elevation, regardless of pack weight. Outside+ members can read the full review, along with everything else we publish. Not a member? Get a taste below with our review of the most supportive of the bunch.
Best Support: SCARPA Ribelle HD
The Ribelle HD blurs the line between a hiking shoe and a light mountaineering boot. Thankfully, its comfort has the DNA of the former. We enjoyed the snug fit, and the heel cup and lacing did a good job of preventing toe bang on long descents. A rockered sole that designers borrowed from SCARPA’s trail running shoes helped mitigate board-stiff mountaineering boot fatigue. Though on longer hikes, like a 12-miler in Washington’s Olympic National Park, the boot’s rigidity (which shortened our stride slightly) led to some discomfort toward the end of the day. The Ribelle HD’s HDry membrane kept our feet dry during hikes along the Lower Big Quilcene River, but our toes became clammy when temps hit the mid-70s. Ding: The Ribelle HD is expensive.
This is the burliest boot in the test. The Ribelle HD’s stiff suede upper tapers tight around the ankle, and paired with a PU/TPU midsole to make short work of hauling a 50-pound pack over off-camber PNW trails. In steep terrain, a narrow toe and polypropylene midsole board let the boot’s mountaineering chops shine (it has a heel welt and rigid construction to take semi-automatic crampons). On long summer backpacking trips that traversed snow and ice in Olympic, the Ribelle HD kept us comfortable and stable.
Designers chose Vibram’s Precision Tech Roll outsole, which pairs flat lugs at the toe for scrambling with larger, deeper lugs further back on the foot to handle mud. Wet rocks were no problem, and neither was slippery sidehilling on Washington’s Upper Dungeness Trail: “The ground had given way, washing the trail that had been meandering along the high bank down into the river, leaving a lot of mud, trees, and slick boulders in its wake. The Ribelle HD’s stiff sole and grippy tread helped me confidently traverse the washout,” one tester says.
This boot’s ultradurable suede upper is nearly one piece, eliminating seam issues, and a giant rubber wraparound rand (rubber in front, PU in back) has the crampon-proof durability of a true high-mountain boot: We saw no peeling, cracking, or tears after days wearing crampons. While the outsole at the toe doesn’t have the same sharp edging ability after 90 miles of use, other signs of wear are nonexistent.
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