“Burly, bushwhack-worthy boots are easy to find,” says our editor-in-chief, who logged more miles off-trail than on in 2011. “But expedition-worthy crapkickers that feel comfortable after 10 miles in brutal terrain aren’t.” Which is why he gave these all-leather, Gore-Tex-lined extra-high-cuts a superior grade. “They’re heavy compared to traditional backpacking midweights,” he says, “and my quads definitely felt more fatigued. But I’ll accept that for the absolute confidence I developed in their support and stability during cross-country explorations of Colorado’s Gore Range.”
Carrying 40 to 60 pounds, he followed game trails up steep slopes, sidehilled for miles on loose duff, stomped through deep snow and beaver meadows landmined with hidden sinkholes, and climbed talus fields and knife-edge ridges in pursuit of bighorn sheep photos. Through it all, the high cuffs and deep heel cups kept his bad ankles perfectly stable—without cramping his stride. Best of all, his feet felt fresh at day’s end. Credit the stiff sole package and lush, partial-leather lining.
Other pros: The smooth leather lining reduces friction and pressure points; our testers didn’t experience any blisters. Cons: The leather lining is slow to dry once soaked, and breathability overall is below average. $399; 3 lbs. 10 oz.; m’s 6-13, w’s 6-10; crispiusa.com