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Gear Guy

What's a good rugged women's hiking boot?

My wife has been using a pair of Asolo AFS Ridge boots for our backpacking trips, typically extended ones through rugged terrain. The Asolos blew out a se in front of the laces and need to be replaced. We are considering the Montrail Moraines or the Asolo 520 GTX boots. Is the Moraine too much boot? Is the Asolo 520 enough boot? Any other suggestions? Louis Oregon City, Oregon

A: That's too bad. A pair of expensive, well-cared for leather boots really shouldn't break down unless subjected to the most extreme conditions for years on end.

Both boots that you're looking at are good alternatives. The Moraine ($235) has morphed in recent years from a serious hiking boot to a good mid-weight mountaineering boot. Which is to say, it might be perfect for the kind of challenging adventures that you and your wife like to pursue. And, as it's built on a women's last, it ought to fit her well.

The Asolo 520 GTX ($200) is indeed a little lighter, both in terms of construction and actual weight. Consider also that you're paying perhaps $25 extra for a Gore-Tex bootie, something the Moraine doesn't have and frankly doesn't need. Still, the 520 is most definitely a sturdy off-trail boot, one that's highly regarded by gear testers.

I'd try on both, and just see what seems to make the most sense fit- and performance-wise. Also take a look at the Boreal Bulnes ($215), which straddle the 520 and Moraine in terms of weight and utility. A very nice boot.

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