Gear Guy

The Chameleon3 Ventilator Mid     Photo: courtesy, Merrell

Q:

What are the best shoes for day hiking in New Zealand?

I am an avid reader of your advice and I like the way you also explain technologies. So here's a question that involves both: I would like some shoes for day hikes of up to six hours. I already have some great boots (Meindl Burma) for multi-day trips or rugged day-hiking terrain. But I'd like something light for other occasions (but probably with some waterproofness as it rains a lot in New Zealand). The trouble is, I don't really know what I am looking for. Light hikers, trail runners, cross-terrain shoes...? Are these different names for essentially the same thing?
—Karen
Wellington, New Zealand

A:Always good to come across a loyal reader, Karen. And I think I see what it is you need. The Meindl Burma, which is hard to find in the States but would sell for around $280, is a pretty heavyweight boot, with a high ankle cut, sturdy leather, and a Gore-Tex liner.

What you need is more of a day hiker, likely a boot that’s up over the ankle, but that is lighter and more flexible like the Merrell Chameleon3 Ventilator Mid ($125). It’ll feel more like a second skin; it’s very trimly cut, with water-resistant leather uppers and a Merrell waterproof membrane. Great for fast hikes with a light load.

I also like the Keen Targhee II Mid ($125). It’s a little heavier than the Merrell, but still very light and agile. More leather in the uppers than the Merrell, for a bit more ruggedness. And it has its own proprietary waterproof membrane. So it’ll be comfortable and keep you dry.

You might even like a good trail runner. Salomon’s XA Pro 3D Ultra ($120) would give you the most trail agility you can find, and a great grip. Not as stable as a full boot, but if you’re fit and your feet are in good shape, I think you can get away with it.

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