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Do I need full-on boots for a supported trek in Bhutan?

I going on a five-day trek in Bhutan at altitudes of around 12,000 to 13,000 feet. We won't be carrying our packs, just our daypacks. Should I be looking for lightweight hiking boots or middleweight boots for the five-day walk? The trek is rated 'A' for easy, but I will be going from sea level here to the higher Bhutan altitude. Cristy Deale, Maryland

A: You certainly don't want or need heavyweight trekking boots. But I don't really think you want super-light boots, either. Some of the trails are apt to be rugged, and you're going to want good support and foot protection. So, looking into my gear crystal ball, I'd say you need something over the ankle, with a good, grippy sole and sturdy construction. You won't pay a penalty for comfort, though—today's mid-weight hiking boots are so insanely comfortable right of the box that it beggars description.


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Case in point: The Montrail Solitude ($140;, which is specifically designed for a woman's foot, being narrower in the heel and higher in the arch. Very light and comfortable, and fine for hiking with light loads on all sorts of trails (no so good for carrying heavier loads on rocky trails). Or, the Tecnica Mizar Mid GTX ($150;, a lightweight boot that still offers good support and that has a waterproof liner. Asolo's FSN 95 GTX ($150; is another excellent light boot, one that has proven extremely popular since its introduction in 2001. Very comfortable, with the support of a boot weighing much more.

Of course, with footwear, fit is everything. So don't just take this list into the store and buy whatever is in stock. Try several boots and several models, and listen to your shoe fitter's advice.

Otherwise, have a great trek!

For more hiking-boot options, check out Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide.

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Filed To: Hiking Shoes
Lead Photo: courtesy, Montrail