Q:

What’s the best boot for a stint in Afghanistan?

Wow, it's been nearly a decade I've been stopping in and asking you questions for my Army sponsored jaunts around the globe. It's Afghanistan this time and I need a stiff mountaineering boot that is still light and won't cook my feet to death in the 110 degree heat this summer. Our issue boots are getting better, but still aren't quite there for the really steep, rocky stuff. My average load is around 40 to 60 pounds with the body armor. Don't worry about colors or "military looking" stuff. Just let me know what will get the job done. BTW: The Suunto altimeter you turned me onto back in '02 is still going strong and hard at work over here. Nice job.
—Larry
Firebase Vulcan, Afghanistan

Apr 27, 2010
Outside
Outside Magazine

The 520

A:

Hey, Larry! Good to hear from you again! Hope you are taking care of yourself in Afghanistan.

Glad to help, of course. I’ll mostly run the list I sent a guy who was looking for a summer boot for Mount Rainier. That’s probably what you want—a good, tough mountain boot, but one that has decent breathability for when it heats up. So. something such as the La Sportiva Karakorum ($270). These have tough all-leather uppers, rubber toe and heel bumpers for added protection, and a nylon shank that is light but offers good support. As a bonus, they’re sort of a neutral olive color.

More of a heavy hiking boot, but very suitable for your purposes, is the Asolo TPS 520 ($250). Great, sturdy, high-cut boots, with full-leather uppers and Vibram soles. Or the Lowa Ranger GTX ($280). Again, tough all-leather uppers, beefy midsole, Vibram outsole, really tough. A third choice in this category? The Zamberlan Civetta GTX ($255). Basically the same specs as the Lowa and Asolos. Just a tough, sturdy boot, one designed for humping big loads on rough terrain.

It occurs to me that, given your loads and the terrain, you would benefit from an ankle brace worn under the boot. That would really add a lot of support and protection. Something like the ASO Ankle Brace ($48), which has ballistic nylon straps to hold the ankle firmly, yet fits under any boot. I really think you’d benefit from something like that. You actually could wear a LIGHTER boot and still have great ankle protection.

Larry, write again any time. And you take care. It was great to hear from you again.

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