Nubuck leather, a Gore-Tex XCR liner, and midcut ankle support for $125? Snap this up before the bean counters at Aku snatch it back. You get an all-purpose hiker with aggressive traction, a near-perfect blend of cushion and stiffness, and a durable, instant-break-in upper. The tread bit into ice and snow on winter hikes in New Mexico and gripped just as well on loose rock. Most impressive is what you can't see: While old-school midsoles have a rigid board directly underfoot, Aku places this support beneath EVA foam, cushioning each step without sacrificing stiffness. www.akuus.comBonus: A pillow-soft tongue is a godsend on descents.Bummer: A wide heel pocket caused rubbing for some testers; fit is best for high-volume feet.
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