Q:

Which boot should I choose to hike the AT?

What boot would give me the most bang for my buck when hiking south on Appalachian Trail in the early spring through summer, considering durability and water-tightness? Ian Nottingh, PA

Mar 16, 2009
Outside
Outside Magazine

The Kailash

A:

Well, I dunno. That's a pretty tall order for a boot—holding up from snow through hot weather, plus just a damned lot of miles. I lay no claim to hiking the AT, but the drill is: packs of 30 to 40 pounds, intermittently rocky/wet trails, 10 to 20 miles a day—pretty demanding.

If I were to go to my gear stash in the garage, I'd probably grab my Scarpa Kailash's ($185). These are just fantastic all-around boots. Light, waterproof, comfortable, good support and traction. I’d have some question about their durability over three months of hard work, but I think they would be okay.

To really pack the freight, maybe Asolo's TPS 520 GV ($250). Heavier than the Scarpas, but full-grain leather one-piece uppers will easily make the trip from start to finish. And they're still very comfortable, easy-to-walk in boots. Waterproof, too.

Sorta in-between: Kayland Zephyrs ($190. Sort of a new-age boot with a plastic "exoskeleton" for support, plus all the usual goodies like Vibram sole, eco-friendly Cocona liners, etc. Nice boots.

Be sure to take the time to get the right fit. That, by far, is the most important thing.

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