[best for big loads]
Can your midweight boots support you when you’re bushwhacking through steep terrain carrying 70 pounds of elk? The Breeze can. “I wore these boots offtrail to help my friend pack out his quarry,” says our tester, a hunter and climbing guide in Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman, Montana. “They were all-stars when we hiked through forest, down steep hillsides, and over miles of blowdown and gnar.” The cushy midsole absorbs pack weight and trail hazards thanks to a -length TPU plate and a full 18 mm of EVA under the heel. The padded, midcut ankle and easy-to-cinch, metal lacing hooks delivered superior ankle support even with heavy loads over rough terrain.
The boots also never overheated, because large swaths of mesh on the sides, forefoot, tongue, and ankle enhance the Gore-Tex lining’s breathability. A Vibram sole with a pronounced heel brake and big rectangular and oval-shaped lugs maintained traction on mud and rock. Fit runs slightly long and is best for medium- to high-volume feet. $160; 2 lbs. 8 oz. ; m’s 7-15, w’s 6-11; vasque.com