Model: SL M3
“Get big-boot performance in a surprisingly trim package,” said one Alaska-based tester after tromping through loose dirt and stones, mud, and snow—then climbing Pyramid Peak’s knife-edge summit ridge. “It handled heavy loads in ankle-twisting terrain, but wasn’t too stiff to rock hop.” The Bhutan’s secret recipe: It borrows the versatile sole package from SCARPA’s Kailash, which earned an Editors’ Choice Award in 2008, and pairs it with a full-grain nubuck leather upper, which boosts stability, protection, and durability.
The Vibram sole has deep, widely spaced lugs that grip and brake securely, and shed mud and debris. It’s layered on a shock-absorbing midsole that mixes EVA (under the heel, for extra cushion) and polyurethane (elsewhere, for durability). After carrying 50 pounds through Zion National Park, one tester said, “Impressive support for a midweight boot. Normally, my feet are fatigued at the end of a day, but after seven hours in the Bhutan they felt great.”
Allow a couple of days to fully break it in, but then expect a stable, all-conditions boot that should last a decade or more. A Gore-Tex liner and high tongue gusset provide reliable waterproofing, but the combination of membrane and all-leather upper is warm in hot weather. Fits narrow- to medium-width feet. $199; 3 lbs. 2 oz.; m’s 38-48, w’s 36-43