My ten-year-old Vasque Sundowners are finally toast, so I'm looking for an affordable replacement, perhaps REI's Gore-Tex Monarch boots. I weigh about 200 pounds, and my usual MO is to trek about ten miles to a base cp in the Sierras with a load of around 60 pounds; I'll then spend a week or so doing day hikes with a lighter 15-pound daypack. The sales people are steering me towards a heavier boot because of the weight that I carry, but because I do most of my hiking with a lighter load I'm thinking I want a lighter boot. I don't have ankle problems, yet. What do you think? Mountain Guy Concord, California
Beyond thathey, they're your ankles! One school of thought goes that NO boot, within reason, is going to protect you if you really start to roll that ankle.
Still, a heavier bootwith its thicker leather and stiffer shankcertainly offers more support and keeps feet and ankles more stable. At a minimum, I'd recommend something such as Asolo's FSN 95 ($155; www.asolo.com) or L.L. Bean's Cresta Leather Hiker ($169; www.llbean.com). Both are substantial enough for backpacking, but won't feel like concrete overboots on a day hike.
What I'd really suggest, though, is a boot with some heft: for example, Chaco Garvins ($210; www.chacousa.com); Dunham Waffle Stomper Premiers ($180; www.nbwebexpress.com); or Lowa Trekkers ($200; www.lowaboots.com). All these boots have a nice blend of support and flexibility.