I'm seeking a recommendation for backpacking boots that will provide support when carrying 60- to 80-pound loads in backcountry conditions. I'm after something that is not completely stiff like a mountaineering boot, but that promises comfort on multi-day trips, is waterproof, and is stiff enough to support strap-on crampons. Gary Seattle, Washington
Anyway, the prototypical boot for your needs is the Montrail Olympus ($235, www.montrail.com), which is an updated version of that company's classic Moraine. The Olympus is designed for just what you have in mind—rugged hiking with a big load, on terrain from mud to rock to snow to moderately angled ice. It's an exceedingly tough boot, made with three-millimeter leather, and it has a carbon-fiber shank for a good combination of light weight and stiffness, yet with enough flex to be comfortable on the trail. You can use any strap-on crampon, or use Montrail's I.C.E. 9 crampon, which is tailor-made for the outsole used on the Olympus. No waterproof membrane, but the thick leather is treated for water-repellency and is inherently extremely moisture-resistant.
Another classic boot in this category is La Sportiva's Glacier ($225, www.lasportiva.com). It also has three-millimeter leather, plus a midsole/shank design (nylon with half-length steel) that gives you the support you need for big loads with just enough flex to make on-trail hiking reasonably comfortable.
And, for something different, Tecnica's Cruiser GTX ($229, www.tecnicausa.com) updates the classic all-purpose boot with synthetic uppers that don't need break-in. They'll take crampons, and have plenty of support for tough hikes.
Finally, my usual disclaimer: It's OK to have a list of boots you want to try, but always buy based on fit. That said, all the above boots are suitable for a pretty wide range of feet.