Because great adventures start with dependable kicks.
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MASTER OF STONE
Think of it as a hiking shoe born for rock. Vasque’s Scree Low features an outsole made from Stealth S1 Rubber, the same gummy tread that gives some climbing shoes their grip—which made it noticeably sticky on alpine scrambles. If it felt a little blockier than other light hikers we tested, it was also among the most comfortable and blister-free. 15 oz; $120; vasque.com
Protect and Serve
We don’t normally advise charging into murky water over a bed of sharp rocks. But if you’re so inclined, please wear Keen’s McKenzie. The bulbous toe bumper and leather sidewalls afford almost as much protection as a boot, while the big mesh panels let water slosh right out. With a quick-pull lace, it isn’t as secure as a strap-on sandal, but it’s much more confidence-inspiring on tricky terrain. 12.5 oz; $90; keenfootwear.com
Catch a breeze: the mesh panels all over The North Face’s Hedgehog Tall III GTX XCR are designed to vent steam on sultry hikes, while the Gore-Tex XCR liner keeps slop out. Despite the shoe’s low weight (it’s just a couple of ounces heavier than some trail runners), the high ankle cuff felt sturdy under a fully loaded weekend pack. But watch your step: the barely there toe bumper limits this boot to mellow trails. 16 oz; $130; thenorthface.com
Pack It In
Put a blocky river sandal on a starvation diet and you get Teva’s Zilch. It has the perks of bigger hiking sandals—supersticky rubber tread, durable toe and ankle straps, and a memory-foam-like top sole that molds to your foot—but is thin and flexible enough to roll up and cram into a pack or suitcase. Light on protection, heavy on convenience, the Zilch is our new favorite camp sandal. 7 oz; $80; teva.com
Ecco’s Dhaka Lo GTX is a savvy traveler—classy enough for most hotels, weatherproof, instantly comfortable, and ready for anything on the road. The upper is thick, rugged yak leather (burlier than cow), and the aggressive sole gripped well on crumbly pyramid steps and rope bridges in Guatemala, though the interior absorbed a bit more tropical odor than we’d have liked. 19 oz; $200; eccousa.com
Feels So Good
That old pair of nicely broken-in boots you love? This is them. Merrell’s Refuge Core Mid is instantly, luxuriously comfortable right out of the box. The soft, felt-lined (and anti-stink) interior eliminates heel friction, and the flexible forefoot and air-cushioned heel take the sting out of long days on the trail. One peeve: the slippery laces wouldn’t stay tied without triple knots. 17 oz; $140; merrell.com