I would like to do some long-distance fast hiking with about a 25- to 35-pound pack. What shoes or boots would be supportive enough for rough trails, but light and flexible enough to go fast? Ben Milledgeville, GA
Lots of good choices these days, Ben. You should easily find something. You sound as if you mean to hike good trails, and just make miles. So that simplifies things a little bit. If you have good ankles, youd be okay with trail-runners. Montrails Hardrock shoes ($110) are tough trail-runners. Sort of superlight hikers. Low cut, but supportive, with a firm midsole to protect your feet. They wont last forever, but youll get a good season out of them and love the light weight and the comfort. Try Vasque Aethers, too ($125). Theyre very rugged shoes, with grippy soles and a stiff shank for protection and support.
I do like a bit more support, myself. Id go with Merrell Chameleon Ventilator 3s ($150). Theyre a mid-height boot with just a bit more heft than trail-runners. Taller, of course, and a little firmer midsole. But also...a Gore-Tex booty to keep your feet dry. Very light and comfortable. I also like the Salomon 3D Fastpackers ($150). Very much like the Merrellsa boot made for traveling fast, with just enough support and protection to keep your feet happy and moving. Lowa Renegade Mids ($200) are just a bit heftier, but still very fast and light. Gore-Tex booty, and a nylon shank that really keeps your feet lined up.