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Forget everything you know about hiking boots. That they’re heavy. That they’re stiff. That protecting your dainty ankles from turning on a stray rock or root requires a boot handed down from Sir Edmund Hillary himself. This has been the ethos of nearly every outdoor footwear company in recent years: lighter, better, faster, stronger.
Customers want performance and versatility, which means stripping the hiking boot of all its excess weight and clunkiness — to, in effect, wed the fortitude of a hiking shoe with the comfort and agility of a running shoe. And no one has come closer to perfecting the form than Adidas’ nascent outdoor division and its shoe-specific Terrex “task force.”
And now Terrex have introduced their first true, dyed-in-the-wool trail boot, the Free Hiker. Weighing just 14 oz., the boot incorporates two of the brand’s buzziest technologies: an energy-conserving Boost foam midsole and a water-repellent Primeknit upper. It’s also got a super-grippy rubber outsole made by Continental (yes, they of the tires). In essence, they’ve pushed the hiking boot as far into sneaker territory as possible without having to actually call it one.
Which isn’t to say that you can’t hike in sneakers. I’ve completed hikes of all difficulty levels in the Terrex Agravic — a trail runner — over the last five years without incident. It’s a robust, surefooted shoe with a tread that inspires confidence in hairy situations. And at first glance, the higher-topped Free Hiker appears to retain those traits while adding an extra dose of support and security.
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