Which hiking boot offers the most ankle support?

I have had a few sprained ankles over the years and wondering if the Lowa Vertex GTX is still the gold standard for ankle support. I'm 50 years old and going to Philmont with a bunch of hardened 17-year-old Eagle Scouts. Any suggestions? David Winterville, North Carolina

Mar 9, 2007
Outside Magazine
Scarpa SL M3 Boot

Scarpa SL M3 Boot


Yeah, bad ankles can suck the fun out of any hiking trip. And it’s certainly a good idea to wear boots that offer as much support as possible. I still really like the Lowa “Biomex" Vertex GTX ($168; lowaboots.com), which combines surprising comfort in a rugged boot with an external ankle-bracing system that is extremely effective. It’s a great starting point for anyone with bad ankles.

So too are several all-leather boots that don’t have anything exotic like the Lowas but still offer excellent support. Danner’s Talus GTX ($174; danner.com) is a classic all-leather boot that also has a Gore-Tex liner and a full rand around the sole for extra protection. Asolo’s TPS 520 GV boots ($210; asolo.com) also go the leather-and-Gore-Tex route in a little heavier, but still comfortable, boot. And Scarpa’s SL M3 ($210; scarpa.com) remains the personification of a sturdy backpacking boot that offers plenty of support and protection along with years of use. They have tough 2.9 mm leather and eschew a Gore-Tex liner.

All that said, it’s also true that once an ankle reaches a certain stage of weakness, boots alone aren’t enough to hold them in place. I have that problem on my right ankle due to an old sprain that I re-injured several years back and that has never fully recovered. So I recommend a quality ankle brace such as the DonJoy Stabilizing Ankle Brace ($40; betterbraces.com). It’s made from sturdy, non-stretch fabric and is laced up then stabilized with straps that stay in place with hook-and-loop fasteners. It will fit under a boot without going up half a shoe size. These braces really are pretty comfortable—I’ve used one for years—and will reduce your ankle problems by at least 75 percent, if not eliminate them entirely. I have NEVER rolled my bad ankle while wearing a brace. Without one, several times.

The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.

Filed To: Hiking Boots

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