Fall is on the horizon and it’s a great time to breath in some fresh mountain air while enjoying a reprieve from summer temperatures. The next few months are ideal for day hikes and/or overnights into the wilderness. Wherever you may roam, you won’t enjoy yourself fully unless your feet are comfortable. Take a gander at these great hiking boots and pick the pair that’s best suited for your adventure.
1) Mammut T Aenergy GTX and T Aenergy GTX Women
The cuff height on this boot makes it a prime choice for backpacking, while keeping it a contender for day hiking. Apart from the size and color options on the men’s and women’s side, the two boots are identical and you can feel the solid chassis underneath your feet from the first step you take. Mammut’s Rolling Concept, a blend of support and cushioning under the ball of the foot, provides a smooth, natural rolling motion while the lugs and flexible ribs of the Vibram rubber sole ensure great grip. The exterior is comprised of Garmont’s Hybrid Shell–hard materials where you need them and soft ones where you don’t. The solid rubber toecap gives way to rubber webbing that transfers energy from the laces to the sole and the entire boot is protected with a Gore-Tex Performance Comfort Footwear membrane. The insole has hard rubber for good dampening properties and the shin, ankle and instep areas are lined with Memo Foam that molds to the contours of your foot while it’s in the boot. All these things add up to comfort and performance for both sexes.
Pros: Solid frame that rolls easily through strides.
Cons: Depending on your build it might be slightly large for day trips.
2) Salomon Quest 4D GTX
These backpacking boots from Salomon will keep your feet comfortable for as many miles as you can handle. The 4D in the name refers to four layers underneath your feet, consisting of the Contragrip rubber sole for excellent grip, a cushioning pad above that, a plastic midsole for support and finally a foam insole. Rubber toe and heel caps add durability and bookend the waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex exterior. The tall upper cuff opens nice and wide for easy entry and then cinches up tight for great ankle support when you’re ready to go. Inside you’ll find soft foam lining around the upper ankle and though the insole is pretty basic, it does add some cushioning in the heel. All-in-all, this is a solid boot for the long trail ahead.
Pros: Great ankle support.
Cons: Stock footbed is a little weak.
3) Garmont Zenith Hike GTX
If day hiking is your thing, pay close attention. The Zenith is built around Garmont’s Frame Flex Lite–a lightweight, nylon frame great for shorter distances and lighter loads associated with day hikes. Its asymmetrical design features mimic the shape of your foot in order to optimize comfort and performance and the first place you’ll notice this is on the upper cuff. Slightly higher on the inside, it accommodates the ankle bones for a snug fit while the tongue is slightly thicker on the outside to prevent slippage from one side to the other between strides. Inside the boot you’ll find an insole with a fair amount of cushioning and underneath the frame is a Vibram outsole that is rolled up in the toe and heel for smooth, easy strides. The exterior of the boot is lined with Gore-Tex XCR for waterproofing and high levels of breathability and you’ll also notice that the lacing is asymmetrical to match the natural flex pattern of your toes
Pros: Asymmetrical design is comfortable and secure.
Cons: People with low-volume feet may not fill out the boot.
4) Ahnu Elkridge Mid
The mid-height cuff on this boot is lined with leather and cushioned both inside and out for comfort and protection. While comfortable, the amount of ankle support isn’t great for strenuous hiking so you’ll be best suited sticking to one-day adventures. On the inside, you’ll find a stock footbed surrounded by eVent fabric, touting waterproofness and breathability that’s second to none. The exterior looks tough and lives up to that with stout rubber on the toe/heel and resilient leather on the side and top. A rubber sole provides great traction combined with flexibility to keep you in smooth stride all day long. In summary, the Elkridge Mid is a great option for moderate hikes where shoes don’t quite cut it but bulky boots would be overkill.
Pros: Lightweight, very breathable.
Cons: Ankle support could be better.