Our take A shoe’s tread has to be pretty special to stand out to our test crew, but the Impact Brake System did just that. The Vibram Nano outsole uses asymmetrical, stair-like rear lugs to give the sole more contact area against uneven ground. Translation: The lugs hold whether you’re going uphill or down on loose rock or mud, which we appreciated on a shoulder-season climb up 13,397-foot South Arapaho Peak in Colorado. La Sportiva claims the design reduces impact on knees, and our testers agree. Ding: Break-in required; our test team suffered a handful of blisters.
The details This boot comes equipped with Gore-Tex Surround technology, like The North Face Ultras, which kept water out when we splashed through shallow creeks. Thanks to the Surround, breathability is better than expected for a full-leather boot.
Trail cred “The heel pattern hasn’t shown any signs of wear after a season of trail building,” says one tester. “I have used the Nucleos in mud and snow and feel comfortable enough to use and carry a chainsaw in them.”