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Gear Guy

What's the best boot for a trek in the Swiss Alps?

I planning a six-day supported trek in the Swiss Alps in July 2005. We'll be hiking up to ten miles per day carrying only our personal packs, and will encounter altitude increases of up to 3,000 feet. What would you suggest as the best boot? Nan Salt Lake City, Utah

A: Oh, c'mon. A boot for a supported trek in the Swiss Alps? Really, all you need is a pair of sneakers, some hand cream, and a toothbrush, nein? Well, maybe not. Those are pretty big peaks, and hiking is hiking, even if all you're carrying is a digital camera, a nylon shell, and a bottle of Evian.

Biomex Vertex

Who, me? Envious? What on earth makes you think that?

So, boots. I'd suggest a mid-weight backpacking boot, nothing too heavy but given the total distance and the terrain something more than a day hiker or a trail runner. One boot I wore this past year and like a lot is Lowa's techno-spiffy Biomex Vertex ($225; It's really more of a heavy backpacking boot, but lightweight materials and clever design make it feel like a mid-weight boot. has a built-in ankle stabilizer, a boon to anyone but particularly to people such as myself who have a wobbly ankle. Très comfortable, too.

Another slick boot: Asolo's Fugitive ($165; Nice mix of leather and fabric in a boot with a high-ankle design for good support and a deep heel cup for stability. Great for on- or off-trail hiking.

Two other good choices: Montrail's Torre GTX ($150;, a good-fitting boot with a Gore-Tex bootie that has excellent cushioning and grippy soles; and Scarpa's Taiga, which offers a lot of support in a very comfortable boot ($165;

Of course, as always, use this or any list only as a starting point. Each of these boots will fit a little differently, and there may be one or two that just don't fit you at all. So choose carefully, try several different boots as well as different sizes, and don't be rushed into buying.

Have a great hike!

More hiking boots reviewed in Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide.

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Lead Photo: courtesy, Lowa