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 Opportunist is a perfect lighter, affordable day hiker. Equipped with both leather, suede, and air mesh nylon, the low-cut option is built on the award-winning arc tempo last.