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There was a time when you could have waterproof boots that kept you dry, but their inability to release heat would cause your feet to sweat when the weather warmed up and the water went away. Then there were water-resistant boots, which didn’t do a very good job of holding back the elements when you encountered snow or an excess amount of moisture.
Thankfully, technological advances have given us boots that breathe and feel lighter on our feet while remaining fully waterproof. The comfort level of these enduring trekkers has also increased, making your excursion along the Appalachian Trail or the esplanade more enjoyable in any of these hiking boots below.
A cross between a lightweight trail runner with the stability of a mid-height hiking shoe, the Adidas Terrex AX4 is made to take on hikes, scrambles and climbing paths. Stream crossings and wet trails can be part of your exploration thanks to a Gore-Tex waterproof mesh and synthetic upper that will keep your feet dry. The AX4’s Continental outsole also means you can go wherever you want without worrying about losing your grip.
Made of Primegreen high-performance recycled materials, half of the upper is comprised of recycled content instead of using virgin polyester. The AX4 has a lace closure, a molded sock liner and a dual density EVA midsole. While some buyers recommended going up a half size, I found that my regular size was fine. Shown in Core Black/Carbon/Grey, other colorways are available. The AX4’s light weight makes it a great shoe to wear all day, with a profile that’s slimmer than a hiking boot.
A waterproof hiker for extreme adventures, Xero’s Xcursion Fusion is a sleeker, more rugged version of their original boot. With its 10mm sole, dual chevron tread with 3.5mm lugs, and an embedded TrailFoam layer for added comfort and protection, the Xcursion Fusion provides more grip and control without sacrificing the ground feel and feedback you want.
Snug-fitting huarache-inspired straps resist abrasion. A protective toe cap, seam-sealed inner liner and a water-resistant membrane backs the mesh outer. A wider toe box allows your toes to spread, with a zero drop heel for proper posture, low ground clearance for balance and agility and a sole that bends, moves and flexes. At 13.2 ounces apiece, the Fusion is a good boot for backpacking, camping, or hiking. Available in black and earth colors, the Xcursion’s sturdy enough for demanding trails, yet stylish enough to pair with jeans or other casual wear.
Black Diamond’s Mission Leather Mid is the boot to wear when you’re feeling adventurous. Ankle padding adds support on rocky terrains. The waterproof, breathable lining and leather upper keeps you dry during water crossings, and a climbing forefoot and toe cap are useful on steep embankments. High traction lugs provide plenty of grip, just as a gusseted, padded tongue offers comfort while keeping dirt and debris out. An EVA midsole is stiff and precise when ascending steep mountain routes.
A sticky rubber heel rand and toe cap provide foot protection and abrasion resistance. High traction lugs are great in mud, increasing climbing capabilities and soft terrain security. A heel brake and midfoot shank make via ferrata comfortable (an activity between scrambling and rock climbing, where you clip into a rail bolted to the mountain and use as a safety line). There’s also intentional stitch placement to minimize exposure to wear.
The Union boot is a cross between tough and lightweight. A Vibram XS Trek outsole with a PU midsole provides excellent grip and balance, making me feel at home on wet or dry terrain. The waterproof lining with its antimicrobial treatment gives you all the more motivation to go ahead and ford that stream. Did I mention comfort? A removable Ortholite X-25 footbed felt great from the start, with cushioning that continued all day.
Available in three different colors, the waterproof suede and high abrasion nylon upper makes the Union as good-looking as it is durable. There’s a new 3D molded rubber toe that adds protection and wears resistance. It’s a great, lightweight boot that’s well built, fits right, and can be worn all day without causing fatigue.
KEEN took the fit of the Targhee hiker, paired it with their Bellows Flex technology, and reduced by 60% the energy each step takes, a worthwhile effort for any hiking boot. Traction is provided by multi-directional lugs and an all-terrain rubber outsole, support from a stability shank and a heel-capture system, and a comfortable fit from the speed-lace webbing. A high-abrasion rubber tip adds durability and protection.
Using environmentally preferred LWG-certified premium leather, the Ridge’s waterproof, PFC- free, breathable membrane has Eco Anti-Odor natural odor control. The compression-molded EVA midsole provides cushioning, and there’s a quick dry lining and removable insole for long-lasting comfort. Ready for anything with KEEN waterproof protection and all-terrain traction for a better grip on a variety of surfaces, the Ridge weighs 19 ounces and is true to size. I like the appearance of the Ridge as much as its fit and functionality.
At 28 ounces, Danner’s Pacific Crest Trail 2650 hits the lightweight sweet spot. The suede and textile uppers with Gore-Tex liners keep water out, while allowing sweat and moisture to escape. A removable polyurethane footbed aids heat dissipation and air circulation. The EVA midsole (Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate, a plastic made by mixing ethylene and vinyl acetate) also contributes to its weight savings. Vibram’s 460 outsole provides outstanding wet or dry grip and long-wearing resilience. Danner’s TPU shank (thermoplastic polyurethane) is stable, supportive, lightweight and protective, even in rough terrain.
The fit of the Trail 2650 is superb, with an 8mm offset to provide a little extra room in the toe area. Wearing them for days was a delight, as the inspiration for these boots came from trail running footwear. Their 4” mid-height is supportive, not restrictive, and the design doesn’t preclude you from activities that take place far from the trail.
When you open the box, I think you’ll be happy with what you see. Salewa’s next-gen best-selling alpine trekking boot, the Mountain Trainer 2 combines a 1.6mm suede leather upper and Gore-Tex weather protection with a 360° full protective rubber rand. Rands are the rubber on the side of the boot that wraps under the sole, the base to glue the rubber outsole to the shoe. This results in a strong, seamless lightweight connection between the suede upper and Vibram sole.
A waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex membrane was incorporated for weather protection and breathability, and to keep your feet dry and comfortable even during intense activities. The dual-density PU midsole balances cushioning and stiffness to handle the steep ground and flat terrain. Salewa has combined support with flexibility and stability, plus an outsole that improves grip and traction in a variety of conditions.
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