Get the reliable waterproofing and ankle protection of a midcut for the price of a low-cut. “These shoes never leaked, even when I stood in a stream while lending a hand to my hiking companions,” reports one Maine-based tester.
Columbia’s Omni-Tech waterproof/breathable membrane proved totally reliable, and the relatively high ankles prevented water from sneaking over the top. But the Pole Creek isn’t just a wet-weather shoe. The nylon mesh-and-nubuck leather upper helped the membrane breathe on hot days, too. After a hike in Sedona, Arizona, one tester said, “My feet never felt clammy or sweaty.” Rubber reinforcements in the toe, heel, and ankle add wear protection and stiffen the upper for stability. Underfoot, the Pole Creek has closed-cell foam—denser and reportedly more durable than standard EVA at the same low weight. (We can confirm the cushion, but we didn’t have our samples long enough to test long-term midsole durability; watch for a report in a later issue.)
Underfoot support is adequate for light loads and moderate terrain. Pronators beware: Lugs extend a bit beyond the sole on the outer edge of the boot—great for traction, but they can roll your foot slightly inward, especially if you’re prone to it. $120; 2 lbs. 6 oz.; m’s 7-15The SM/SW920 is the company’s first-ever water performance shoe, designed to easily transition the serious water enthusiast from water to trail. The 920 features a full length drainage system complete with the innovative H2Flow™ technology, through which small ports between the midsole and upper allow both water and sand to quickly drain from the shoe for a more comfortable fit. A molded EVA insert channels water and sand to the H2Flow system. The 920 also offers a water resistant synthetic/mesh upper, a quick pull lacing system for easy on/easy off transition, and a Vibram® outsole. The Vibram® outsole utilizes a water specific design, rubber compounds, and razor siping for maximum ground contact, grip, and multi-directional traction in wet environments.