FIND YOUR FOOTING Low-Cut Trail Shoes These shoes are typically lightweight, breathable, and don’t require a lot of break-in time. “You replace them a little more often than you would a bigger hiking shoe, but a lot of folks think it’s worth it,” says Eschenberg.
Can’t Go Wrong: The upcoming Scarpa Epic is a new tester favorite. Available in the spring, the low-cut multi-sport trail prowler mixes lightweight mesh to breathe and a snug lace fit up top with a gritty sole that loves a fast-paced summit scramble. It’s also one of the greenest shoes on the market, made with 100-percent recycled webbing, laces, and lining. $95, scarpa.net.
Mid-Cut Hikers These shoes are still aerobic but outfitted with a little more armor and a higher cut for added stability. Consider this style as miles and pack weight start to increase, as well as when facing rooty and rocky terrain that could roll an ankle.
Can’t Go Wrong: The Tecnica Wasp Mid’s TRS system in the sole allows feet to roll forward for better energy transfer and added support. The lightweight mid hiker—built for long and fast pursuits—also features interior mesh lining for moisture control. $120, tecnicausa.com.
Backpacking Boots Made for long miles on a variety of rugged, off-trail terrain under heavy pack weight, hearty high-cut boots are the right choice for feet and ankles bearing the burden of big loads. It’s usually smart to break these in before the big trip.
Can’t Go Wrong: The Oboz Wind River offers solid support in a relatively lightweight package (23 oz.). The boot mixes rugged Nubuck leather with burly rubber toe protection and a reliably tested waterproof membrane. $165, obozfootwear.com.