[best ankle support]
This heavy-duty, high-cut backpacking boot impressed a demanding pair of testers with its top-notch comfort and ankle stabilty. “The thick midsoles supported me for all-day hikes up Scarface and Porter Mountains in the High Peaks Area of the Adirondacks, and protected my feet from bruising while I broke wrist-thick branches for the fire,” says one tester. Beyond the ample midsole of EVA, PU, and a half-length nylon shank, two standout features add protection: a superior footbed and an innovative heel-lock strap. “The included insole is as good as many $40 after-market models I’ve tried,” says one tester who wore the Wind River II while hiking over rocky, mountainous terrain in Tasmania’s Walls of Jerusalem National Park. The deluxe footbed has two pockets of soft urethane foam under the heel and forefoot, and a well-defined contour that cradles the foot’s transverse arch (which runs across the width rather than the length of the midfoot). The precise cushioning also held firm after break-in, unlike most standard-issue insoles.
A unique strap at the ankle bend connects to the front of the heel cup on each side of the boot, threading over and through the tongue for extra-snug ankle support and security, eliminating heel-slip blisters. “I was also impressed at how the waterproof lining and thick nubuck leather and textile upper kept my feet warm and dry through some really sloppy conditions,” our tester says. “The trail in Tasmania was basically one deep trough of mud and water for miles.” Dings: The strap got in the way of pulling boots on and off, and one sample pair sustained some torn stitching on the instep while our tester was scrambling up scree. Best for low- to medium-volume feet. $185; 3 lbs. 2 oz.; m’s 8-14, w’s 6-11; obozfootwear.com