ROUNDUP: 5 Footwear Selections for Big Trail Miles
Choosing hiking footwear is a very personal subject, so recommending hiking footwear is a very subjective matter. What works great for one person may not be so great for another. It’s definitely not the same as recommending a tent or water filter. That being said, in the early months of this year, I was able to get out and sample some new and updated trail footwear. Some performed fantastically well and will now be part of my gear closet. Others, not so much and are going into the donation bin. Here are the trail shoes that made my list.
Ready for light and fast? Through the spring, I put a ton of miles on two pairs of Lone Peak trail shoes—the Low runner and the Mid boot. I loved the runners for conditioning hikes when carrying a light daypack; for longer hikes under a heavy pack I preferred the Mids for their added ankle support and stability. Both pairs were out-of-the-box comfy, and I especially like the extra-wide toebox so there’s no friction on the tender pinkies. Both models sport a breathable Polartec NeoShell upper for fantastic weather and water resistance, while the unique MaxTrac with TrailClaw outsole provides impressive trail traction when taking on both big ascents and steep descents.
Weight/pair: 1.2 lbs. (low), 1.5 lbs. (mid) – M/W – $150–$160
This low, light hiker took me a couple outings to find my groove in, but once I did I really enjoyed its solid fit and performance. Constructed with a hybrid 3D mesh and microfiber upper, the 9.81 Speed III offers superior breathability to keep feet cool and comfy. Designed as both a runner and a hiker, its support system includes assymetrical cuffs, differential ankle pads and Vibram Fast Trail outsoles. All this kept my feet very secure while tackling every kind of trail terrain. As they don’t provide any water repellence, they would not be my first choice on an extended trek, but for conditioning hikes and fast summer outings, these are a worthy performer.
Weight/pair: 1.6 lbs. – M/W – $140
I’ve spent the fewest miles in the Nucleo, but what I have experienced so far I’m already impressed. These lightweight boots sport a combination leather and Gore-Tex nano-cell mesh upper which gives the top of the feet plenty of protection while venting the bottom of the feet to keep them cool and dry—great for summer trekking! I also like the 3D Flex ankle which gives me the extra support of a high boot that I like, while also allowing a little flexibility so I don’t feel locked into a rigid boot. The Vibram Nano outsole performed admirably on everything from duffy forest tread to rocky scree. I’m looking forward to more miles in these this summer.
Weight/pair: 2.1 lbs. – M/W – $200
I’m currently on my third pair of Renegades. Yeah, I like these boots that much. These sturdy leather boots sport a Gore-Tex liner, Vibram Evo outsole and full-length shank for maximum support. With every pair, there has only been minimal break-in time before they’re conformed to my feet and feeling good. Because of their durable construction, this is one of my boots of choice for hiking during the shoulder seasons—spring and fall—when weather is typically cooler and wetter and trail conditions may be a little more unpredictable. I’ve tackled every kind of terrain in my Renegades and they take it all in stride, keeping me moving comfortably down the trail.
Weight/pair: 2.5 lbs. – M/W – $230
I spent a lot of this past winter and spring in these sturdy, all-leather hiking boots. Try as I might to get them wet inside—including hiking thru plenty of water, rain and snow—the Talus Treks kept my feet warm and dry every time. Constructed of waterproof nubuck leather with Vasque’s own UltryDry lining, I was able to break these in comfortably in just a couple of hikes. My favorite feature of these boots is their Vibram Nuasi XSTrek outsole and its ability to adhere to slick terrain. This kept me planted firmly on my feet as I hopped over wet rocks or slogged up soggy trail surfaces. This is a great boot choice if you’re thinking about some off-season hiking.
Weight/pair: 2.5 lbs. – M/W – $150
These reviews are based on the personal experiences of guidebook author Eli Boschetto. All footwear items were tested in a variety of weather, temperature and trail conditions. Individual results may vary. For more information on PCT: Oregon gear reviews, click here.
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Main photo: The Altra Lone Peak 3.0 Mids on a very soggy PCT near Siskiyou Pass. Photo by Eli Boschetto.