Some low-cut shoes beg for mercy under the weight of a 40-pound pack. But the Passage Ventilator can bear a load, thanks to a muscled chassis that includes an injection-molded plastic plate in the midsole and a broad outsole that provides a stable platform for every step. Molded plastic braces along each side of the cuff prevent ankle rolls, and shock-absorbing air pockets in the heels ease the pounding on hard, rocky trails. www.merrell.comBonus: Airy mesh uppers are the next best thing to A/C on hot days.Bummer: That thin mesh left my feet vulnerable to sharp scree.
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