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Q:

What's the best lightweight hiking boot?

I'm trying to find lightweight hiking boots. I'm used to trail running shoes but want something more sturdy. But every hiking shoe I've tried forces my foot to pronate. Running shoes are neutral or they correct for pronation, but hiking boots encourage it, and it hurts my feet and knees. The stores sell expensive inserts, but those don't work for me, they leave my foot pronating with some arch support. Thoughts?
Mark
Seattle, WA

The Kailash     Photo: courtesy, Scarpa

The Kailash

The Kailash

A:Uh....really? I over-pronate, but have never found any hiking boots that made the condition any worse. In fact, they almost always help, as the firmer soles and shanks neutralize foot-roll. (As an aside, I'm sure everyone knows this, but pronation is the process of your foot "rolling" inward after the heel strikes. Everyone pronates—or should—but if the roll exceeds 15 degrees, that's called over-pronation and can be a problem.)

Also, running shoes are not "neutral," nor do they necessarily correct for pronation, unless you are wearing stability or anti-pronation shoes. If you aren't, then I think what you are feeling in hiking footwear is not more pronation, but an absence of it. I see people who over-pronate so badly they look as if they are running on the inside of the ankles. Yet to them it feels normal.

So I'm not sure I have any good advice. My current favorite boots are the Scarpa Kailash GTX ($199). I've found them to be very comfortable and super-stable, yet lightweight. I must have 200 miles on my current pair without any problems. In the past two years I also have worn boots from Garmont (Zenith, $160), Asolo (Fugitive GTX, $215), Vasque (Breeze GTX, $160), Oboz (Sawtooth Mids, $135), and Merrell (Moab mid, $125), and had good success with all, from a fit and stability standpoint.

I do like after-market insole inserts such as Superfeet, but at $35 they aren't real high-priced. I think they add some stability and improve overall fit and support.

I recommend you go to the Seattle REI store on a quiet weekday morning, ask for their best shoe-fitter, and see what you come up with.

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