MILLET BOUTHAN GTX
For the classic, all-leather boot lover, the Bouthan is the Cadillac of heavy-duty hikers. Made for longer jaunts that require a lot of pack weight, our tester loved the ample toe space and the comfort of the soft leather collar on an extended trek in Joyce Kilmer. The waterproof breathable lining was up to task, but moisture was also kept at bay by the lower rubber coating. $299.
When your objective is to pack a lot of miles in a single day, the Breeze is an aerobic boot that is designed to keep feet feeling fresh, equipped with ultra-airy breathable mesh uppers. It’s definitely made to go the distance, but because of its soft tendencies up top, it’s best with lighter loads—perfect for the ultra-hiker. $145.
LOWA AL-T REX XCR LO
For that after-work scramble up Humpback Rocks, Lowa’s AL-T Rex XCR Lo is a lightweight, breathable low-cut trail shoe for aerobic hikes. It was a great choice on a recent ramble filled with creek crossings, as the Gore-Tex® laminate lining kept moisture in line like promised. $150.
THE NORTH FACE DHAULAGIRI GTX
Named after the world’s seventh highest peak, the Dhaulagiri is the boot for technical packing over rocky terrain. It features The North Face’s new X-frame technology, which our tester happily reported provided increased ankle support, while the Vibram sole was sticky enough for supreme traction on rock scrambles. $160.
THE WIND AT YOUR BACKPACKS
Helping sweaty backs dry seems to be the new trend in ‘08.
While the Locus looks like a classic no-frills top-loader, Kelty’s four-way ventilated Aero Fly™ suspension proved to provide a breath of fresh air on a Ramsey’s Draft overnight.
Volume: 2500 cu. in.
Weight: 3 lbs. 5 oz.
OSPREY ARGON 70
Osprey’s popular Crescent line gets a facelift for 2008. Improvements to this big load hauler that’s right for thru-hiking or other extended excursions include lighter pack weight and a central air chimney in the back panel that improves circulation when the long miles have you sweating. Another new perk is the hydration system in the removable hood, so your favorite fluid can come with you on quick side trips. Go with the Argon 85 or 100 for even bigger loads.