Footwear

Backpacker|March - April 2020

Footwear
From ultracomfy trail runners to mountaineering crossovers, here’s the season’s best backcountry footwear.
By Lauren Steele

MOST PROTECTIVE

OBOZ ARETE MID WATERPROOF

OUR TAKE

Feet, meet tank. For hikers heading into areas with notoriously rocky trails, the Arete Mid is our choice for keeping your toes from harm. A dense forefoot EVA plate prevents bruising, and a welded TPU toecap guarantees stone-kicking security. Plus, the upper has TPU overlays that shield your feet from knocks and prevent any abrasion—making the Arete Mid perfect for folks who like to take big trips off the beaten path. “On a three-day, 30-mile trip through the Ansel Adams Wilderness my feet never hurt in any way, and I was able to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the country,” said one tester after tackling miles of sharp Sierra granite.

THE DETAILS

The Arete’s forefoot rock plate, combined with chassis integrated into the midsole, distributes weight and mitigates over-flexion. The midsole is also stiff, which makes the boot ultra-supportive for loads up to 40 pounds. A jacquard upper and the proprietary membrane are breathable up to about 60°F, laudable for a boot this bulletproof. $160; 1 lb. 11 oz. (w’s 7); m’s 8-14, w’s 6-11

MOST NIMBLE

HOKA ONE ONE SPEEDGOAT 4

OUR TAKE

HOKA has a reputation for churning out comfy running shoes built on tall, cloud-like midsoles that are best for lightweight trips on dirt singletrack. However, that tall midsole and large toebox can be somewhat clumsy. But the Speedgoat 4 changes that thanks to sleek shape and a key update: A 3D-printed overlay on the upper increases security and agility by beefing up the upper’s structure, making this shoe ultra-responsive. “On the 12-mile approach to the Pfiefferhorn in Utah, this shoe was dextrous enough to shepherd me across rocks flowing with spring snowmelt, muck, and 3,800 feet of elevation gain,” one tester says. We found the Speedgoat breathed well up to about 80°F.

THE DETAILS

Our tester put more than 400 miles on the Speedgoat 4, and reports that it hasn’t suffered the durability issues that plagued previous models thanks to the upper’s reinforced construction. The EVA midsole still provides plenty of cushion, and can comfortably support pack loads up to 20 pounds. Note: It comes in a waterproof version for $15 more. $145; 1 lb. 6 oz.; m’s 7-15, w’s 5-11

BEST FOR TECHNICAL TERRAIN

SALEWA MOUNTAIN TRAINER LITE MID GTX

OUR TAKE

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March - April 2020