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Which light hiker will hold up in hot, dry northeastern Africa?

I’ll be working in northeastern Africa for the next five months, and I need a daily-wear shoe. The terrain is rocky, sandy, very hot, and very dry. I’m looking for a trail-runner or light hiker and have considered Merrell’s Cheleon. Any other suggestions? Peter Copenhagen, Denmark

A: I think you are right about the climate and terrain conditions you’ll face, and right about the footwear choice. Merrell’s Chameleon II Stretch ($100; would be one pretty good option. They’re a light, grippy shoe that offer decent support and good traction. Make sure you don’t get the version with Gore-Tex—that’s an add-on that you just won’t need where you’re going.

Merrell Mesa Ventilator II

Mesa Ventilator II

Merrell also makes a shoe called the Mesa Ventilator II ($75). It has uppers with extensive mesh for added breathability, which might be something that you’ll appreciate in northeastern Africa.

Montrail’s Vitesse II ($85; is another solid choice. These are very tough, proven trail-runners that have been on the market for several years and have been put to the test by Montrail team runners on ultramarathons. Synthetic mesh and nylon uppers breathe well, and cushy midsoles keep your feet comfortable. I also like Five Ten’s Guide Tennie ($89;, which have a lot of rock-shoe features packaged in a comfortable, tough approach shoe. They would do just fine in northeastern Africa.

Whatever you buy, my advice is to get two pairs. These are all sturdy, well-made shoes, but I’d be surprised if any holds up to daily use in the sort of conditions you’re apt to encounter. But maybe they will. Send us a picture of the shoes after your trip!

The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest trail-runners.

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Filed To: Hiking ShoesTrail-Running Shoes
Lead Photo: courtesy, Merrell