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Gear Review: Shoes

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Oct 16, 2017 11:30 AM |
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The shoes you wear are the literal base for your adventure on trail. Choosing the right ones can make your trip easier and more enjoyable. Here are four shoes that our gear team has tried out recently, from a sturdy four-season boot to a water-friendly light hiker.

Boots by Emma Cassidy.jpgHikers along the Grand Ridge trail show off their worn-in kicks. Photo by Britt Lê.

The shoes you wear are the literal base for your adventure on trail. Choosing the right ones can make your trip easier and more enjoyable. Here are four shoes that our gear team has tried out recently, from a sturdy four-season boot to a water-friendly light hiker.

Nucleo.jpgLA SPORTIVA NUCLEO HIGH GTX HIKING BOOTS

Our tester loved these boots. They’re lightweight, yet solid and stable. Our tester ran them hard, including a climb of Glacier Peak that involved rough trail, stream crossings, rock scrambling, snow and ice, warm weather and the use of traction devices and crampons. La Sportiva combined a waterproof upper with Nano-Cell technology that maximizes breathability and air circulation, including the insert beneath the feet. The Nucleos kept our tester’s feet as dry as any boot he’s ever worn. And while this boot is not designed as a mountaineering boot, it did a commendable job of holding a crampon. This is one of the most comfortable and versatile boots we’ve tested, and has risen to the top of our favorites. Men's - Women's - $199.

la sportiva gtx.jfifLA SPORTIVA SYNTHESIS MID GTX HIKING SHOES

If you find yourself hating traditional hiking boots, La Sportiva’s Synthesis GTX might just be for you. They look and feel like trail runners, but perform like boots. The mid-ankle height provides stability while still offering the flexibility that makes shorter heights so comfortable. Vibram Nano rubber outsoles are exceptionally grabby. The shoes have the same breathable waterproof features as the Nucleos, although the lower height makes it a little more difficult to stomp through deep puddles without spillover. The toe-box is wide enough to allow for spread and swelling during long hikes. Testers found these hiking shoes incredibly comfortable and were able to wear them right out of the box without blisters. Men's - Women's - $185.

SESTO_GTX__MID.jpgLOWA SESTO GTX MID HIKING BOOTS

The Lowa Sesto is a lightweight hiking boot that served well in multiple environments. While these shoes required some breaking in, they provided a comfortable and supportive ride. The boots were comfortable enough (and attractive enough) to wear around town. A lot of boots you want off your feet as soon as you’re done hiking, but these are comfortable enough to wear around camp. A durable suede exterior and a waterproof Gore-Tex lining keep water out even when splashing through creeks. The Sesto provides enough support for a weekend backpacking trip, but you might think twice about using this one for heavy loads or hiking in lots of snow. Men's - $185.

Astral_TR1Mesh.jpgASTRAL TR1 MESH

Astrals are made for water. There’s no waterproofing here—these shoes just accept that sometimes your feet are going to get wet. And when they do, it’s best if they can dry out quickly. A clever drainage in the toe of the shoe lets water drain quickly. These light hikers have exceptionally grippy soles with aggressive lugs. Our tester wore them for hikes with multiple water crossings and appreciated light and how comfortable they were, even when wet. They could also be used as a light trail runner. Because of the mesh design, you will end up with a bit of grit in the shoe on particularly dry or dusty trails. These shoes would be an ideal choice for anyone who mixes water sports and hiking. Men's - Women's - $125.

This article originally appeared in the July+August 2017 issue of Washington Trails Magazine. Support trails as a member of WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.

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