Whats the best mid-weight boot out there?
Im planning a PCT through-hike (for next year) and thinking through footwear. Everyone seems to fall into one of two cps: heavyweight leather clunkers or ultralight replace-as-you-go. What about the middle ground? Is there some sort of rigid, steel-shanked running shoe with significant underfoot cushioning that can handle this trip? Mike Boston, Massachusetts
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Well, Mike, the trouble is that the terms significant underfoot cushioning” and rigid” are somewhat at odds. So, the short answer is: No, there are no trail-runners or similar types of shoes with a steel shank. Most dont even have what youd think of as a shank.” At best, youd find a polyurethane midsole in place of the slightly softer EVA.
Salomon’s Mega Trek 6 Light GTXSalomon Mega Trek 6 Light GTX
That said, the middle ground” is big and expanding, with lots of good shoes that qualify as full backpacking boots while extending to grateful feet much of the comfort of trail-runners and similar lightweight shoes. Asolos Fugitive GTX boot ($170; www.asolo.com) is a great example of this. Its a real bootleather uppers, Gore-Tex liners, grippy soles. But its so comfortable you could almost start your trip with the boots right out of the box.
Salomons Mega Trek 6 Light GTX boot ($140; www.salomonsports.com) is another fine lightweight pair of boots. Rubber rands protect your toes, while a sort of nylon exoskeleton adds support without much weight. And lastly, Scarpas ZG 40 GTX boot ($165; www.scarpa.com) has light suede-and-leather uppers, sticky Vibram soles, and a Gore-Tex liner to keep you dry.
I can think of a million reasons why a mid-weight boot beats trail-runners for a trip such as this. Better ankle protection against roll-over and sharp rocks, better foot protection against stones and other trail bumps, better water-resistance when boulder-hopping streamsthe list goes on and on. You wont be sorry you invested in some decent boots.
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