We tested dozens of boots last season. These 10 stood out for their versatility, durability, and comfort. 

La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX ($200)

La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX. (Courtesy of REI)

(Pictured above) The lines separating specialty hiking boots from one another got sharper this year. Looking to set a fastest known time up a Colorado fourteener? There’s a shoe for that. Carrying a 50-pound pack through the Montana wilderness? There’s a shoe for that, too. Of course, there are still good old dependable hiking boots that refuse to be pigeonholed. Take the La Sportiva Nucleo High GTX. We adore this everyhiker’s companion because it does damn near everything well. The outer is comfy nubuck leather that’s durable enough to be raked over scree at 12,000 feet. The Vibram soles offer confidence-inspiring traction but aren’t so heavy that they feel like anchors. The Gore-Tex liner kept our feet dry while slogging through rainstorms, yet vented well enough to prevent hot spots. In short, La Sportiva packaged all the best features into a workhorse shoe that’s exactly what most of us want. 1.1 lbs (men’s) / 13.4 oz (women’s)

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Adidas Terrex Fast GTX Surround boot. (Courtesy of Adidas)

Adidas Terrex Fast GTX Surround ($225)

Best For: Rainy slogs.

The Test: Adidas must have taken design cues from a sieve when making the ­Terrex Fast. To vent heat and sweat, seven cough-drop-size holes are notched into the top edge of the midsole (visible above on the women’s version of the shoe). Even in our local desert testing grounds, we could feel our feet shedding steam. Adidas matched the pliable upper, which snugged around our ankles to keep water and debris out, with a Gore-Tex liner to jack up the weatherproofing. The Continental rubber sole, with a tread based on the company’s tires, flexed over rocky outcrops, boosting grip.

The Verdict: A Pacific Northwesterner’s dream. 13.6 oz (men’s) / 11.6 oz (women’s)

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Dynafit Feline Vertical. (Courtesy of Dynafit)

Dynafit Feline Vertical ($130)

Best For: Racing Kilian Jornet.

The Test: Dynafit married a barely-there upper to a rock-solid chassis to give the ­Feline Vertical an almost uncanny mix of speed and stability. Sheets of tightly woven mesh and a thin layer of polyurethane line the upper without adding weight—each shoe tips the scales at just half a pound. When cinched around our feet, they provided loads of support on steep, technical terrain. Down below, a medium-stiff outsole allowed for plenty of nuanced ground feel while still ­offering enough protection from jagged babyheads. Aggressive Vibram Megagrip lugs helped with strong braking on the race down.

The Verdict: The peak bagger’s perfect match. 8.8 oz (men’s) / 7.4 oz (women’s)

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Keen Versago. (Courtesy of Moosejaw)

Keen Versago ($120)

Best For: Light duty.

The Test: From our very first steps, we knew we had a comfort winner. Credit goes to the thick, cushy midsole that ate up choppy ground, the highly breathable synthetic upper that vented well without gripping our feet like a vise, and the gusseted tongue that hugged like a running shoe’s. The Versago was ideal for five-mile Saturday-­afternoon jaunts or quick two-mile after-work outings past the trailhead, and it served us best on smooth or wet trails—the thin lugs were skittish on desert kitty litter. Plus, the color scheme nicely ­complemented jeans and a flannel at the office.

The Verdict: An easy-wearing, no-nonsense day hiker. 10.6 oz (men’s) / 8.4 oz (women’s)

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Columbia Montrail Trient OutDry Extreme boot. (Courtesy of Columbia)

Columbia Montrail Trient OutDry Extreme ($175)

Best For: Monsoon season.

The Test: The glossy sheen on the Trient’s upper reminds us of a technical shell—which is apt, considering that this is by far the most waterproof shoe we tested. Chalk it up to Columbia’s OutDry Extreme technology, a waterproof-breathable membrane that repels moisture like a greased umbrella. But it also vents pent-up body heat surprisingly well, because it ditches the exterior fabric you find on its competitors: while leather and mesh can get waterlogged, the Trient stayed light and dry even after dashing through a creek. Water just beads off, no sweat.

The Verdict: Columbia reinvents the rain bootie, and we love it. 13 oz

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Vasque Breeze III GTX boot. (Courtesy of REI)

Vasque Breeze III GTX ($180)

Best For: Saturday-into-Sunday jaunts.

The Test: The Breeze III—possibly the most versatile shoe in our test—toes the line between a light-duty hiker and a beefy backpacker. The upper is made from nubuck and mesh, providing plenty of support for 30-pound loads. But it’s still light enough for quick trips. The thick plastic toe and heel caps held up well on rough, rocky scrambles, as did the plate-reinforced sole, which ­allowed us to run right over jagged rubble. True to its name, the Breeze is relatively airy, with small perforations in the toe and heel (visible above in the women’s version), though the Gore-Tex liner got sweaty on hot days.

The Verdict: Weekend warriors, meet your boot. 1.3 lbs (men’s) / 1.1 lbs (women’s)

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Oboz Crest Mid BDry boot. (Courtesy of Oboz)

Oboz Crest Mid BDry ($165)

Best For: A comfortable ride.

The Test: Some boots are responsive but too soft. Others are stiff but feel like bricks. The Crest is just right. “It’s not often that a boot ­immediately stands out on the trail,” said one tester. “But a perfect recipe of rebound and cushion in the midsole—sort of like a perfectly tuned mountain-bike sus­pension for your feet—was notice­able right off the bat.” That springiness sped up our gait considerably, which over the long haul can reduce wear and tear on knees and ankles, while the cushion kept us comfortable during long treks. The Crest also wins for dur­ability—after 100 miles, it didn’t look even a little beat-up. 

The Verdict: A Cadillac for the trail. 1.1 lbs

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(Courtesy Salewa)

Salewa Mountain Trainer Mid GTX ($250)

Best For: Billy-goating down the steeps.

The Test: Salewa engineers say they designed the Mountain Trainer for the downs as much as the ups. While the stiff, aggressively lugged outsole had no issue climbing, we have to agree that the boot (shown: women’s version) relishes descents. The secret is in the TPU-injected midsole, which locks in your heel. The upper, made with a rubber rand and thick suede, strikes the perfect balance between support and pliability. It didn’t so much as shrug when we hoisted a fully loaded pack, but wasn’t so stiff that it felt like a two-by-four wrapping our ankle.

The Verdict: Flies over technical terrain. 1.4 lbs (men’s) / 1.1 lbs (women’s)

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Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX boot. (Courtesy of REI)

Scarpa Zodiac Plus GTX ($250)

Best For: Backup for your ankles.

The Test: The first time we picked up the Zodiac, we did a double take. It looks hefty, but at just 1.2 pounds per boot, it’s lighter than any other model on this page. Scarpa cleverly cut weight by thinning the midsole yet kept everything supportive by incorporating higher-density EVA at the midfoot: we had to stand on our toes and throw our weight forward to get this boot to bend at all. The leather upper isn’t as thick as on some of the other boots here, limiting the Zodiac to weekend trips. But if expedition hiking isn’t in the cards, it’s all the boot you need.

The Verdict: The looks of a backpacking boot with the soul of an approach shoe. 1.2 lbs (men’s) / 1 lb (women’s)

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Aku Alterra FG GTX boot. (Courtesy of Aku)

Aku Alterra FG GTX ($299)

Best For: Epics.

The Test: Call this the Ford F-150 of hiking boots—it’ll happily carry big loads over many, many miles. With a full-grain leather upper and carbon-stiff midsole, it skipped along under 50-plus-pound packs. Reinforced rubber wrapping the toe, sides, and heel shrugged off scrapes and gave testers confidence during backcountry bushwhacks. Shockingly, it didn’t take ages to break in: a flexible upper collar and tongue, plus an easy-to-adjust lacing system, helped with fit right out of the box. (Still, expect 20 to 50 miles before full comfort.) In the end, we appreciated the Alterra’s stalwart support.

The Verdict: Heft meets cush for geared-up wanderers. 1.7 lbs

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The Best Women's Hiking Gear of 2017

The perfect assortment for all manner of out-and-backs.  Grayl Ultralight purifier. (Courtesy of Grayl) Grayl Ultralight Purifier ($60) This sleek dual-canister filter basically French-presses viruses, bacteria, and protozoan cysts from your water in just 15 seconds. Simply fill it, press down on the inner cylinder, and drink up. Buy Now Marmot Knife Edge jacket. (Courtesy of Marmot) Marmot Knife Edge Jacket ($225) Despite its gauzy weight (just 11 ounces), this waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex PacLite shell kept us dry in dreary Minnesota sleet. And the details are spot-on, like an adjustable hood with an elastic drawstring. Buy Now Adventure Medical

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The Best Summer Jackets of 2017

Layers of every stripe.  Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds (Courtesy Helly Hansen) Helly Hansen Odin 9 Worlds ($400) Gear of the Year There is a glut of jackets out there, many of them highly refined tools designed for very specific pursuits. Take, for instance, a Gore-Tex shell that thinks it’s a fleece, or an athletic midlayer that you can wear every day for three straight months. Of course, there are also some do-it-all workhorses, which brings us to the Odin 9 Worlds. It shrugged off everything we could throw at it, then laughed in our faces. With classic three-layer construction

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The Best Dog Gear of 2017

Everything you and your pal need for the best summer ever.  L.L. Bean Pillow dog bed. L.L. Bean Pillow Bed ($79) This 3-by-2.5-foot lounger is plenty big for your dog to stretch out, and the removable polyester cover sheds hair with a spin in the washing machine.  Buy Now ​ Mountainsmith K9 pack. Mountainsmith K9 Pack ($60) This is the only bag our dogs look comfortable wearing. Spandex in the straps allows for uninhibited movement, and the 24-liter capacity fits food and a few treats for longer hikes. Buy Now Buff Dog Reflective. Buff Dog Reflective ($12) Yes, a

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The Best Summer Sleeping Bags of 2017

Sacks for a comfortable night’s sleep, wherever you lay your head. Kammok Thylacine. (Kammok) ​Kammok Thylacine ($627) Gear of the Year  Ten years ago, the biggest difference between sleeping bags was their stuffing: slight variations in synthetic or down insulation. Today things have changed—a lot. Head into a gear shop and the offerings include comforters and oversize down jackets. Zippers run in many directions or are left out altogether. Some bags change shape. Of the 20 we tested in conditions ranging from the beaches of Mexico to early-season snow in Canada’s Coast Range, the Kammok Thylacine proved the most versatile. It

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The Best Summer Packs of 2017

Beasts of burden that shoulder the load for you. Osprey Aether AG 70 pack. (Osprey) Osprey Aether AG 70 ($310) Gear of the Year It seems like every pack this year is trotting out a creative new spin—from a sliding waist belt to a cinching design that turns an expedition loader into a daypack. Nowhere is that progress more blissfully apparent, and comfortable, than with the Aether AG (and its sister pack, the Ariel AG 65) and its trampoline-like back panel. The suspended mesh dispersed weight over every lumbar contour and made a 40-pound load feel like helium. That panel

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The Best Multi-Tools of 2017

Sidekicks for any scenario.  Gerber Center-Drive (Courtesy Gerber) Gerber Center-Drive ($119) The four-inch screwdriver provides tons of torque on stubborn screws and can easily squeeze into tight nooks. At 9.5 ounces and nearly five inches long when closed, the Center-Drive isn’t suited for long expeditions, but after we used it to change out a busted headlight on a decades-old Camry, it earned a permanent spot in our glove box. Buy Now MSR Stake Hammer (Courtesy MSR) MSR Stake Hammer ($30) Yes, you can use a rock to pound tent stakes into the ground. But this 11-ounce stainless-steel hammer weighs

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The Best Summer Tents of 2017

Shelters for wherever the trail takes you. (Read more of our in-depth tent reviews.)  MSR Access 2 tent (Courtesy MSR) MSR Access 2 ($600) If you haven’t upgraded your hiking shelter in a while, you’re missing out. Weights are tumbling, while living space, durability, and feature sets continue to grow, making for tents that perform year-round. MSR’s Access 2 is at the extreme end of this trend. Until it came along, most options fell into one of two categories: three or four­season. Take a light three-season shelter winter camping and you’ll be cold and miserable. Four-season tents, with their

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The Best Bouldering Gear of 2017

Work your project from the ground up. Petzl Alto Crash Pad. (Courtesy of Petzl)  Petzl Alto Crash Pad ($300) With three layers of dense foam, the Alto has plenty of cushion for big falls. What’s more, the hingeless design means you can sandwich gear between the two halves before zipping it up—handy when schlepping from rock to rock. Buy Now Edelrid Boulder Bag 2. (Courtesy of Backcountry) Edelrid Boulder Bag 2 ($30) This cavernous container holds all the chalk you could need for weeks of climbing, and the twist closure mitigates spillage. Buy Now Ortovox Brenta shorts. (Courtesy

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The Best Lights of 2017

We’re experiencing a renaissance in camp lighting. Renewable power sources are adding versatility, LEDs continue to push efficiency to new levels, and materials are getting lighter, making it easier than ever to walk away from our outlets at home. Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 (Courtesy of Goal Zero) Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 ($80) The trend toward lanterns that integrate other features, like backup power, extends to two beautiful new pieces of green tech. Goal Zero’s Lighthouse 400 (400 lumens) can be juiced with solar panels like the Nomad 7 ($89), by USB, or, in a sunless pinch, with a hand

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