Women's gear, up first
Can you recommend a comfortable women's hiking boot that is lightweight and good for warm weather backpacking? Sascha Mesa, Arizona
KEEN's new Shellrock WP ($120, keenfootwear.com). Don't let the stealth all-black urban look fool you: This shoe has the high-tech specs it takes to hike the distance on any harsh hot-weather trail: a seamless waterproof, breathable upper; a stone-bruising protection plate, a heel motion stabilizer, and a sticky rubber bottom so you can hike even the precipitous NaPali Coast without worrying about slipping off into the Pacific. Note: It runs about a half-size small.
For more ankle protection, try Merrell's Siren Ventilator Mid Gore-Tex ($110, merrell.com). You could slog through swamp sludge in this shoe and your socks would likely still stay dry. At one pound, six ounces, the Siren Ventilator Mid is more lightweight than most backpacking boots and the breathable mesh upper makes it well ventilated. With a vibram sole and an air-cushioned midsole, your feet can stay happy and dry for the long haul.