“Part Cadillac, part tank,” says one tester of the bombproof Camino GTX Flex. “The boots handled 50 pounds on hilly, rocky, and rooty terrain like a walk in the park. I could have easily carried more,” he reported after playing family Sherpa on a hike to a lean-to camp on Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks. The heavy-duty support comes from a beefy Vibram sole with a PU midsole and nylon stabilizing wedges in the heel and forefoot. The Gore-Tex-lined nubuck upper, gusseted tongue, and tall rubber rand on the toe and heel kept his feet unscathed and completely dry, even after multiple brook crossings where the boots submerged up to his ankles. And thanks to plenty of open-cell foam cushioning in the ankle and tongue, he had no sore spots. The laces are threaded through stainless steel hardware with ball bearings inside: “They cinch up smoothly,” says one tester, “and they even out tension to eliminate the hot spots I commonly get across the top of my forefoot.” A metal stud on the center of the tongue provides an anchor point for laces, helping to eliminate the slippage that causes friction and blisters. Learning curve: Eyelets on the ankles are close together and get in each other’s way until you get used to lacing them. Best for medium- to high-volume feet. $295; 3 lbs. 7 oz.; m’s 7-14; lowaboots.com
Mid-cut technical approach shoe. Also ideal for Via Ferrata & other high alpine routes.