How much weight can I comfortably carry while hiking in a mid-weight boot?

Certain popular boots, such as the Vasque Skywalk, are called "Mid-weight backpacking boots." What does this specification mean? If my proportions are fairly average, how big of a pack can I wear with a mid-weight backpacking boot? Arthur New York, New York

Jan 28, 2008
Outside Magazine
Vasque Wasatch GTX Boot

Wasatch GTX Boot


That specification means about whatever you want it to mean. Speaking broadly, a “mid-weight" backpacking boot is one designed to carry moderate overnight loads (30–35 pounds) on smooth and/or rough trails. It’s not meant to be worn as a mountaineering boot or for extended off-trail use.

All of this is sort of meaningless from a practical standpoint. For some people a mid-weight boot won’t be beefy enough, for others it may be more boot than they want. It’s really a matter of how rugged your ankles are, and how light you like to travel. Myself, I prefer a little sturdier boot, both to accommodate off-trail jaunts, and to protect a right ankle that’s prone to roll on me.

In any event, Vasque has discontinued the Skywalk. Probably the Vasque Wasatch GTX ($160; vasque.com) would handle the same sorts of trails and loads. It’s an all-leather boot with a Vibram sole and a Gore-Tex bootie. Similar boots from different makers would include the La Sportiva Trango Trek ($170; sportiva.com) and Montrail Torre GTX ($160; montrail.com). I’d wear a boot like this when carrying up to 35 pound loads on hikes where I don’t intend to do much bushwhacking when fully loaded, but I might do some scrambles with a daypack.

In the Vasque line, a step up to a heavier boot would be the Sundowner Summit GTX ($200), which has heavier leather than the Wasatch, a taller design, thicker midsoles, and a rubber toe rand to add some toe protection. I’d wear that if I was carrying 40 pounds or more and apt to be on the trail for several days. A lighter boot than the Wasatch is the Clarion ($140), a fabric-and-leather boot that draws from dayhiker technology to offer a light boot for fast traveling.

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Filed To: Hiking Boots

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