Zero Impact Challenge: Wolverine Zeke

As we saw with packs and bags, weight savings equal carbon savings.

This boot maker took an approach that GoLite and other green innovators have ridden to success in previous ZICs. Namely, slice off every last bit of unnecessary material. Wolverine brought the Zeke's weight in about 25 percent below the average for this category, chopping several points of carbon right off the top. It also used a 30-percent-recycled sole, 37-percent and 100-percent-recycled meshes, and a bio-oil footbed. Organic cotton laces thread through holes punched in the leather, which eliminates metal hardware, an incremental savings but one of many that added up. Remaining opportunity: Replace the virgin nylon shank, which was the heaviest in the test.

Testers called the Zeke "all-day comfortable" after wearing it for afternoons, overnights, and even to the gym. Credit a snug, soft fit and flexible features. It's best-suited to light-duty hiking, having less ankle and arch support than backpackers will want for rugged trails and big loads. Nitpick: The laces get hung up in the eyelets, making the collar hard to tighten fully. The Zeke is not available in stores, but watch for the technology in future Wolverine boots. $110 (projected); 1 lb. 14 oz.;

*This boot had a 35-45% reduction in environmental impact over business as usual.