For a sturdy boot made for heavy loads in wet conditions, there's no better deal than this synthetic midcut. With plastic exo-skeletal reinforcements cradling a firm heel cup, support is good for loads up to 45 pounds. After backpacking near his home on Alaska's terminally soggy Kodiak Island (as well as walking a mile and a half to work daily, usually in rain), our tester reported, "I had toasty, dry feet the whole time," thanks to the very breathable eVent membrane.
Other standout attributes: solid traction in mud and a rugged ballistics-nylon upper that readily sheds muck and water. Said uppers, plus brass hardware and a rubber toe cap, also promise years of life. Downside: Fit is somewhat boxy. Best for medium- to high-volume feet. $180; 3 lbs. 5 oz. Hi-tec.com