Q:

Which boots will hold up under a 250-pound load?

My ten-year-old Vasque Sundowners are finally toast, so I'm looking for an affordable replacement, perhaps REI's Gore-Tex Monarch boots. I weigh about 200 pounds, and my usual MO is to trek about ten miles to a base cp in the Sierras with a load of around 60 pounds; I'll then spend a week or so doing day hikes with a lighter 15-pound daypack. The sales people are steering me towards a heavier boot because of the weight that I carry, but because I do most of my hiking with a lighter load I'm thinking I want a lighter boot. I don't have ankle problems, yet. What do you think? Mountain Guy Concord, California

Feb 13, 2004
Outside
Outside Magazine

Chaco Garvin

A: That's a tough one. There's nothing wrong with the Monarch ($115; www.rei.com), but it is a pretty light boot—billed as a day-hiker more than a backpacking boot. Speaking personally, my weight with a pack is about your weight without, and I wouldn't hike in the Monarch with a load. Beyond that, I think it best to buy a boot for the "most" need, not the least. Plus, I'm not at all convinced you need Gore-Tex in a boot for your part of the world.

Beyond that—hey, they're your ankles! One school of thought goes that NO boot, within reason, is going to protect you if you really start to roll that ankle.

Still, a heavier boot—with its thicker leather and stiffer shank—certainly offers more support and keeps feet and ankles more stable. At a minimum, I'd recommend something such as Asolo's FSN 95 ($155; www.asolo.com) or L.L. Bean's Cresta Leather Hiker ($169; www.llbean.com). Both are substantial enough for backpacking, but won't feel like concrete overboots on a day hike.

What I'd really suggest, though, is a boot with some heft: for example, Chaco Garvins ($210; www.chacousa.com); Dunham Waffle Stomper Premiers ($180; www.nbwebexpress.com); or Lowa Trekkers ($200; www.lowaboots.com). All these boots have a nice blend of support and flexibility.

Good luck!

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