Gear Guide 2012: Light Duty Boots/Shoes

These light duty shoes and boots offer support and protection in one lightweight package.


Scram Lite Equally at home on city streets and challenging vertical terrain, these featherweight shoes were so comfortable they became an instant tester favorite for dayhiking and scrambling. The confetti like lugs, inspired by gecko traction, stuck well to smooth slickrock, while a rubber rand and toe guard protected against rocks when a tester scrambled canyon walls near Sedona, Arizona. A flat “barefoot” profile, slipper-like fit, and a soft, durable suede upper will make you want to wear it every day. $120; 1 lb. 10 oz.;

Hi-Tec Sierra Lite I WP

These waterproof midcuts wrap a great deal of support and protection into a lightweight package. A leather and mesh upper with an Ion Mask treatment—a waterproof nano-coating—keep the weight low and protection high for wet adventures of any distance. “Ankles lace tight for exceptional support, and chunky lugs gripped wet rock and muddy trails around LaCamas Lake, Washington,” says one tester. $180; 2 lbs. 3 oz.;

La Sportiva Xplorer Mid GTX

A breathable and versatile boot, the Xplorer Mid is lightweight and supportive enough for easy trail running, dayhiking, and light backpacking. “Airy mesh and a Gore-Tex Extended Comfort lining (it’s more breathable than regular Gore-Tex) “kept my feet dry and sweat-free,” said one tester after a 13-mile hike in the Boise foothills. $180; 2 lbs.;

Merrell Chameleon 4 Ventilator Gore-Tex

This low-cut light hiker is durable and supportive for big loads and long miles of backpacking in rough terrain. The secret sauce is pig suede leather, which is tougher and stiffer than cowhide and less prone to abrasion and tearing. A full-length nylon shank and dense EVA in the sole provide a solid platform for heavy hauling in harsh terrain. Fits low- to medium-volume feet best. $145; 2 lbs. 4 oz.;