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Does the newest generation of light hiking boots really cut it on the trail?

Though the treads on my six-year-old Garmont Nagevi boots don't look too worn, I've noticed that I'm slipping more than I used to. I've spent some time trying on other light hikers at the stores, and they all feel light and flimsy. I'm told this is due to new advancements. Is this true? Nancy Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


It could be that the Nagevis are getting a little long in the tooth. What can happen is that the material in the soles can get a little hard over time, and of course the little knobs on the sole lose some of their bite as they wear down. Both of those things can lead to a loss of traction.

Garmont Sitka XCR Hiking Boot

Sitka XCR Hiking Boot

The current Nagevis are a low-cut trail-running type shoe. They’re still available for $90 at REI ( and other places. But, it sounds as if what you have is a little taller, heavier shoe, so maybe the Nagevis have morphed a bit. And it’s true, today’s low-cut trail shoes—and mid-weight boots—have benefitted in recent years from running-shoe technology.

In any event, for the type of hiking you do, I strongly recommend a mid-height or taller boot. You can still go light but with a bit more foot and ankle protection than a low-top shoe. Garmont makes a great shoe called the Sitka XCR ($160; It combines the height and durable leather materials of a good hiker with an EVA midsole more akin to running shoes. So, you’ll get good comfort right out of the box. Plus, it has a Gore XCR bootie. The sole is a proprietary Garmont design, but I’m sure it’s fine.

Another great boot in this area is the Asolo Stynger GTX ($180; It has sort of a hybrid construction, with uppers made from leather and nylon for light weight and breathability. A Gore-Tex liner keeps you dry. It has a slightly stiffer and firmer midsole than the Garmonts, but it’s still fine for day hikes and great for light backpacking trips.

If either of these seem a bit over-built for your needs, try a pair of Merrell’s new Chameleon ARC Mid boots ($120; These are sort of trail-runners with more height, built for women, and very comfortable. Proprietary waterproof booties keep the wet stuff out. They are nice-looking shoes for day hikes and overnighters with light loads.

The 2008 Winter Outside Buyer’s Guide is now online. From snow sports to trail-running to camping, get reviews of more than 300 new gear must-haves.

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Filed To: Hiking Boots
Lead Photo: courtesy, Garmont