I am an avid reader of your advice and I like the way you also explain technologies. So here's a question that involves both: I would like some shoes for day hikes of up to six hours. I already have some great boots (Meindl Burma) for multi-day trips or rugged day-hiking terrain. But I'd like something light for other occasions (but probably with some waterproofness as it rains a lot in New Zealand). The trouble is, I don't really know what I am looking for. Light hikers, trail runners, cross-terrain shoes...? Are these different names for essentially the same thing?
Wellington, New Zealand
Always good to come across a loyal reader, Karen. And I think I see what it is you need. The Meindl Burma, which is hard to find in the States but would sell for around $280, is a pretty heavyweight boot, with a high ankle cut, sturdy leather, and a Gore-Tex liner.
The Chameleon3 Ventilator Mid
What you need is more of a day hiker, likely a boot thats up over the ankle, but that is lighter and more flexible like the Merrell Chameleon3 Ventilator Mid ($125). Itll feel more like a second skin; its very trimly cut, with water-resistant leather uppers and a Merrell waterproof membrane. Great for fast hikes with a light load.
I also like the Keen Targhee II Mid ($125). Its a little heavier than the Merrell, but still very light and agile. More leather in the uppers than the Merrell, for a bit more ruggedness. And it has its own proprietary waterproof membrane. So itll be comfortable and keep you dry.
You might even like a good trail runner. Salomons XA Pro 3D Ultra ($120) would give you the most trail agility you can find, and a great grip. Not as stable as a full boot, but if youre fit and your feet are in good shape, I think you can get away with it.