1. Hi-Tec describes its Sierra Trilogy Junior boots ($50) as "multipurpose: trail and playground" footwear for grade-school-age kids sizes 1 through 6. All-suede-leather uppers provide firm support for young feet, as well as excellent abrasion resistance. The lugged soles ensure good grip for any activity, and a padded nylon lining guarantees comfort.
2. A high-performance trail shoe for boys, the Nike Air Karst ($55) uses Nubuck leather uppers and a protective rand around the edge of the sole for durability and scuff-resistance. Available in sizes 8-13.5 for toddlers ($48) as well as 1 through 6, it's a sturdy shoe for budding hikers and backpackers, with a speedy lacing system that uses metal rings instead of lacing holes.
3. Adults looking for a lightweight shoe with heavyweight trail performance should try the Timberland StrataVarious 9000SS ($120). A three-quarter-length nylon shank and stiff sole provide better-than-average stability, and the seam-sealed leather uppers are comfortable and waterproof — and look good, too. For light to moderate day-hiking loads, these boots stand out.
4. Need something a bit more substantial? Take a look at the Merrell M2 Superlight ($150). The 2.4-millimeter-thick leather uppers cover your ankles for better support and protection, and a full-length nylon shank backs up a lightweight but strong Vibram Speedhiker sole. A great boot for serious day hiking or light backpacking.
5. A no-compromise boot, the Montrail Moraine AT ($225) has the muscle for long trails and heavy loads. A stout Vibram sole is backed up with a polyurethane midsole and a molded nylon insole for unsurpassed support, and thick leather uppers effortlessly fend off trail hazards.