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Boot Up: Fall Hiking Gear

The air is crisp and the trails are calling. Beat the blahs of Zoom meetings and being stuck at home by hiking as much as possible this fall. Here are our picks for excursions in the hills.

From left to right, Vasque Sundowner GTX, Danner Ridge Arctic Shadow, Merrel MQM Flex 2


Best in Test

Salewa Wildfire Edge Mid
Here’s the shoe for those who are serious about adventure. The grippy Pomoca sole offers outstanding edging for low-level climbs and scrambles when you don’t want or need to wear technical climbing shoes. But the shocker is just how comfortable these shoes feel hiking anywhere. The stable platform is outstanding on loose descents; the cuff provides plenty of ankle support; and the sole feels just like an everyday hiker when you are pounding out rocky trail miles. $220;

Work and Play

Oboz Sypes Low
This comfy, versatile kick is ready for action straight out of the box and can take on everything from casual outings with the dogs to long hikes. Credit that comfort to a sole that offers traction but isn’t too stiff. Eco bonus: The laces feature recycled material and Oboz plants a tree for every pair of shoes it sells. $145;

Classic Style

Vasque Sundowner GTX
This new take on an old classic shows off retro style but provides modern performance on the trail. The waterproof, leather shoe features a Gore-Tex membrane to breathe and keep out wet weather, and a bomber outsole withstands punishment on big backpacking excursions. It’s the perfect boot for those who love that slow break-in and perfect fit of leather. $220;

Urban Stomping

Danner Ridge Arctic Shadow
Built right here in the U.S.A., this sturdy boot is the ideal urban winter tromper. Featuring a Gore-Tex membrane that keeps slush at bay and 200 grams of Thinsulate insulation, this shoe is ready for winter action. It’s perfect for a little ramble after work on the trails or in town and feels comfy all day long. $390;

Moving Fast

Merrell MQM Flex 2
A trail runner by trade, this light (1 pound, 9 ounces) shoe is just the ticket for those who like to go fast and light. It never feels out of its element on gnarly terrain thanks in good part to a rock plate and tough outsole that rolls over rocks and provides plenty of confidence on loose steps. Best of all, a Gore Invisible Fit membrane keeps it waterproof and breathable but stays flexible thanks to technology that bonds directly to the upper rather than including an extra layer. $110;

All Arounder

Mishmi Takin Jampui
Thanks to a waterproof and very breathable eVent membrane, this sturdy boot can tackle the trails all season long. It has the guts to shuck off winter slop—but it’s not so heavy and insulated that it sweats you out on fair-weather backpacking jaunts. Tipping the scales at just over 2 pounds per pair, the Jampui can pound the backcountry thanks to a supple-but-strong Vibram Tubava sole. $175;

Budget Conscious

Northside Rockford Mid
Ringing in at a price that fits into tight budgets in these challenging times, this boot can tackle all the slop and wet of fall and winter hiking. A waterproof upper makes it a fine choice for nasty winter conditions and a durable outsole offers plenty of shock absorption. This boot will get you through the winter. $85;


Gregory Citro 24
Lightweight and streamlined, this is the pack you want to keep near the door that’s ready to stuff with essentials and snacks for any day hike. And if you need to bring a bit more warmth, the 2-pound hauler features a nifty front stash pocket that can carry a layer you want to keep handy. $120:

Casio PRTB50T-7
Part of Casio’s Pro Trek series, this snazzy watch looks good on a dinner date but also provides key information—altitude, temperature, barometric pressure, compass bearings—when you are out in the wild. Synch it via Bluetooth to your phone to keep it accurate and download data. $330;

Farm to Feet Blue Ridge Hiker
(pictured above) Your socks are key to comfort on the trail. These plush-but-not-too-bulky merino wool hikers will keep your dogs from barking, and they connect to the Blue Ridge region, not just because of their featured artwork but also because the company sources the materials in the U.S. and all manufacturing takes place in the Carolinas. $23;

Leki MCT 12 Vario
Hiking poles are not just a solid idea for those with aching knees. Light, strong options like these in Leki’s Cross Trail series keep athletic hikers and trail runners moving with aplomb through tricky terrain. At just 7 ounces per pole, they pack down and adjust on the fly, and feature streamlined grips as well as minimalist trail running tips. $250;

Norrøna Svalbard
Denim may not be our choice for big endeavors on the trail, but we love the fabric for cool days when we want to fit a hike into a day of in-town activities. But the denim in these pants can take on anything from a mountain bike ride to a winter hike: It features organic cotton and tough Cordura, as well as a polyester backer that makes it stretchy and able to endure abuse. $229;

Rab Pulse
Meet your new favorite trail shirt. This light (just 4 ounces) top offers up surprising warmth and dries out in a hurry. That makes it the ideal piece whether you are on a multi-day backpacking journey, bagging a peak, or just out for a hike on a fall day. And a Polygiene fabric treatment keeps it from picking up sweat stink. $80;

It’s important to get off the grid, but it’s also a good idea to be able to stay in contact with family and friends in case there’s an emergency back home. Enter this small, handy, and easy-to-operate satellite device. Synch it to your phone via an app and you can send text messages when you are out of cell range on the Iridium satellite network anywhere on the planet. An emergency SOS button will call in the cavalry if you get in trouble. $350; 

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