With how specific outdoor footwear can be—there are models for trekking, and trail running, and scrambling, and much, much more—it’s easy to want a pair for every type of adventure. There’s no way around it, though: Shoes are expensive. So for those of us that can’t have a pair for every occasion, these multisport models will come in handy.
Hiking and Trail Running: Tecnica Magma
Like going fast and light, but don’t want to choose between different footwear for your backcountry track meets and your backpacking trips? This shoe has both covered. The minimalist Magma nails the weight, close fit, breathability, and agility of a trail runner, but also provides the durability, protection, and support of a light hiking shoe. A high-rebound EVA midsole prevented sore feet under a 25-pound pack when we hiked into Colorado’s Lost Creek Wilderness. Then, on an 8-mile run in the Indian Peaks, the Magma’s foot-hugging design allowed us to nimbly navigate a rocky trail on the approach to Airplane Gully; the outsole wraps up onto the sides for increased grip and durability, allowing us to boulder-hop and scramble in ways a typical trail runner might not have. We’re not saying the Magma makes us faster, but at least it simplifies our gear quiver. (Note: It also comes in a waterproof/breathable version.)
Dayhiking and Backpacking: SCARPA Rush
The Rush is a low-cut shoe that takes its design cues from heavyweight hiking boots of yore. Its synthetic leather-and-fabric upper brushed off scrapes while we scrambled in the desert near Moab, Utah, and its beefy, dual-density EVA midsole and TPU steel stabilizer hugged our feet for superb stability under heavy loads. We saddled up a 35-pound pack and carried it 1,000 feet straight up Moab’s switchbacking Horsethief Trail at the end of a long day and never felt our dogs bark. However, at less than 1 pound for a pair the Rush is plenty light enough for dayhikes, and we never regretted taking them on shorter jaunts. Bonus: A proprietary rubber outsole has concavities under the ball of the foot that compress on impact, which allows additional lugs to come in contact with terrain for increased traction, especially on loose, sandy trails where other shoes might have slipped.
Trail Running and Scrambling: Salewa Dropline Mid
Unlike many shoes made for speed and distance, the Dropline Mid has the ankle support and traction needed for bounding over steep, rocky terrain. A high, padded foam cuff boosts lateral ankle support, and on the wandering, blocky trails of Wyoming’s Munger Mountain it helped our tester keep his balance. He also praised the shoe’s narrow last and grippy Pomoca outsole, which has densely-spaced lugs that take advantage of the sticky surface area. A heavily rockered sole makes transitions from heel to toe smooth as you run, and helped propel out tester forward as he dashed down the trail. The Dropline Mid’s mesh upper kept his feet from swamping out on missions with temps in the mid-80s. Ding: men’s sizing only.
$180; 13.1 oz. (m’s 9); m’s 7-13; Buy now
Hiking and Paddling: Astral TR1 Scuffler/Loop
Some of the best boating days involve a little hiking to get there, and some of the best hikes involve getting your feet wet. The amphibious TR1 Scuffler (the Loop, pictured, is the women’s version) excels in the water and on trail. Its hiking chops come courtesy of a thick EVA midsole (21-millimeter stack height at the heel) and proprietary rubber outsole with 5-millimeter-deep lugs that grip well in dirt. TPU overlays on the mesh upper add durability, and the sneaker-like fit is comfortable on long approaches. On one tester’s 3-mile approach (while carrying a 50-pound kayak) to northern Maine’s Sandy Stream, the TR1 Scuffler handled the rugged trail without any of the traction mishaps or chafing common in water-specific shoes, thanks to its heavily padded collar and tongue. The upper also dries quickly and has drainage ports throughout; in the water, the outsole held firm to wet rock and sandy bottoms, giving our tester stream-crossing confidence.
Hiking and Biking: adidas Five Ten Trailcross XT
Face it: A lot of us end up walking alongside our mountain bikes more than we would like. That’s where the Trailcross XT shines: It’s stiff and grippy enough for hard riding (thanks to Stealth Phantom rubber and a dense EVA midsole), and stayed glued to our tester’s flat pedals on gravel rides in Colorado’s Front Range. But it also had enough traction (the lugs are slightly deeper than other flat-pedal bike shoes) and support to pull double duty as dayhikers or even approach shoes on short hikes in the Tetons. A stretchy neoprene gaiter around the ankle also kept brush out while riding at Washington’s Tiger Mountain. The Trailcross XT doesn’t have a waterproof membrane, but it does have drainage ports along the sides for accidental (or not) swims: The shoe dried out before the end of a ride in the Arizona heat one tester took a much-needed cooling dip.