Teva Riva Peak ($200)
Best For: Maximum Comfort
In the Riva Peak, Teva combined the Mush technology of its classic sandals with the support of a midheight boot to create an exceedingly comfortable trail shoe that doesn’t require breaking in. But cush doesn’t mean soft. The sturdy nylon shank added arch support, and the thick heel absorbed shock even with a loaded pack. High ankle cuffs and beefy midsoles bolster the armor, albeit at a weight penalty. 2.4 lbs.
OluKai Kia‘i Trainer II ($120)
Best For: Beach to Bar
An upgraded version of the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association’s training shoe, the OluKai Kia‘i sports a removable insert and comfortably spongy midsole, with a lightweight mesh upper that kept our piggies cool even when hiking to lava flows on the Big Island. And while it looks great with jeans, it’s built to withstand razor-sharp lava rock, with a rubber-reinforced rand across the toe and around the sides to maintain the integrity of the upper through the roughest terrain. 1.3 lbs.
Vasque Grand Traverse ($130)
Best For: Doing Everything
A true multisport shoe, the Grand Traverse is just as comfortable bouldering beachside as it is hiking old forest-service roads. Sticky Vibram rubber on the outsole held its grip on slippery logs, while flat rubber edges in the toe box, heel, and instep kept testers anchored on tiny edges and light smears. More impressive, the dual-density footbed and reinforced mesh upper meant it was plush enough for short trail runs. 1.7 lbs.
Merrell All Out Blaze ($130)
Best For: Keeping It Minimal
A more muscular version of Merrell’s All Out Fuse running shoe, the Blaze sports a six-millimeter heel-to-toe drop and a flatter outsole for a semi- minimalist tactility that allowed testers to really feel the trail. An oiled leather upper and waterproof lining kept us dry in slop, while the aggressively lugged (but pleasantly flexible) Vibram outsole held fast in variable terrain. Bonus: the interior is treated with Merrell’s proprietary odor control, so you can keep them in the house. 1.3 lbs.
Adidas Terrex Swift R ($135)
Best For: Going Fast
We loved the lightweight Swift for speedy hikes and mid-distance trail runs. The thick midsole, aggressive outsole, and supportive structure were dynamic enough for testers to haul heavy packs deep into the backcountry without ankle strain. And when we dropped the pack for a quick jog, the external heel cup dug in securely on sketchy downhills. Our only complaint? The speed laces needed adjusting every few miles. 1.6 lbs.
La Sportiva Ganda ($250)
Best For: Hybrid Approaches
This is the best combination hiker and approach shoe we’ve ever tested. The polyurethane midsole and cushioned tongue provide enough comfort and stability to carry a pack on long hauls, while the toe-to-toe lacing, narrow toe box, and hard-edged Vibram outsole make it possible to crank up a 5.10 limestone face without swapping shoes. Nice touch: a removable sock liner, for a looser fit while hiking or a tighter fit when you hit the crag. 1.9 lbs.
Keen Durand Low ($160)
Best For: Ultra Treks
The Durand sports Keen’s proprietary polyurethane midsole, which, unlike most boots built with EVA foam, compressed only fractionally even after thousands of steps. The outsole is no slouch, either—softer rubber on the edges provides killer grip, while harder rubber in the middle adds durability. Bonus: the waterproof-breathable KeenDry membrane lets you puddle-hop without getting your socks wet. 2.2 lbs