Gear Guy

Scarpa Kailash boot     Photo: Courtesy of Scarpa

Q:

What are the best boots for a long hike?

What hiking boots would you recommend for a several-month hike over varied terrain from the Mojave Desert to the East Coast? The boots I have now make my feet hurt. And go numb.

A:Is it possible to find a comfortable boot for a trip like this?

The boots you have now clearly don’t fit, so pretty much anything will be an upgrade. Still, you're asking a lot for one pair of boots.

The desert part is the most difficult. You'll want boots that are fairly light, breath well, and won’t cook your feet. In the desert, water protection isn’t an issue, but for the East Coast and other areas, getting a waterproof boot is key.

One boot that might work is the Scarpa Kailash ($190). I say that because I just wore a pair for four days of backcountry travel in the Grand Canyon, which is as much of a desert as the Mojave. On a hot day—we had some temps around 90—they were a bit warm, but not bad. Very comfortable. I also wear them up here in the Pacific Northwest, so that’s a testament to their versatility. The Kailash is a mid-weight boot, ideal for tough day hikes or multi-day trips with moderate loads. They got a suede and fabric upper, Gore-Tex booties, and a nylon shank.

You probably don’t want to use two different boots, but for the desert portion you may really want to think about something such as the Lowa Zephyr Desert Mid ($175). It is a boot that is made for the desert. Breathable leather and fabric uppers, no Gore-Tex, moderately stiff shank. Merrell’s Moab Ventilator ($95) follows the same idea in a less-expensive boot, although it's better for light loads.

Otherwise, good all-around boots in the Kailash mold include the Garmont Zenith Mid GTX boots (mid-height design, $160); the Vasque Clarion Gore Tex boots ($160); and the Asolo Fugitive GTX (sharp design, great function, $215).

Good luck!

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