When we finally terraform Mars, the first colonists will doubtless be issued Montrail Hardrock Wideskicks perfectly suited to the dusty slopes of 78,740-foot-high Olympus Mons. OK, admittedly, we're reaching, but our 2005 Gear of the Year trail runners have more than proved their worth on this planet, moving effortlessly from scree to sandstone to the blacktop that took us there.
1. The Hardrock Wide's firm and deeply sculpted heel cup fits as if it's been bone-grafted onto your foot. Superstellar. It's impossible to fumble your stride with your heel so locked in place.
2. Size-EE feet feel at home in the Wides yet never go unsupportedthanks to a full-length polyurethane plate that wraps up, taco style, around the midfoot for torsional control. (There's a standard width available for skinnier feet.) Overpronation is regulated with the authority of a strict school nun.
3. Montrail embraces chaos theory on the outsoleit's bristling with triangles, bars, and dotsand the result is traction uphill, downhill, and sideways in dirt. On rock, the rubber lugs are shallow and stiff enough to grip tightly.
4. A midsole of dual-density EVA and a gel insert in the forefoot lend perfect plumpnessenough for forays on asphalt (not always the case with trail shoes) without the foot/trail disconnect that gives you that whoa! feeling on steep switchbacks.
5. Nylon mesh in the uppers ensures good ventilation, and copious synthetic leather embellished with raised rubber bumpers fends off rock scrapes and debris collisions.