b'HIKING SHOESa.BEST FAST-AND-LIGHT HIKERa. Merrell Altalight Knit Mid $190The lightest backpacking boot in Merrells nearly 40-year history is also one of themost stable and comfortable we tested. Credit the soft, shock-absorbing EVA heel cushioning and the flexible midsole plate,whichprotected us from rocks without impeding our stride. Top-notch fit comes courtesy of a stretchy tongue that mini mizes pressure points and a stripped-down TPU exoskeleton that wraps around the ankle, heel, and instep to lock you in. The Vibram Megagrip sole handled slick rocks, loosegravel, and mud with ease. 14.8 oz (mens, pictured) / 12.4 oz (womens)b.BEST FOR WET WEATHER b. The North Face Activist Mid Futurelight $145Off-trail mushroom scavenging, fall brush clearing, and a rainy walk up Vermonts Mount Mansfield were perfect testing grounds for these hikers, which balance the comfort of a low-cut shoe and the protection of a full boot with clean aesthetics. The waterproof- breathable Futurelight fabric ensured our feet stayed dry through sweat, puddles, and mud, while the single-density EVA midsole lentan energetic feel. Half-hexagon lugs helped us stay rubber-side down on all terrain. 13.8oz (mens, pictured) / 11.4 oz (womens)BEST FOR BACKPACKINGc. Aku Trekker Pro GTX $250Think of these handmade European bootsas insurance for your feet and ankles. The suede and Cordura upper providesplentyof lateral support when carrying a heavypack and makes the Trekker Pro great for bushwhacking. For a boot with a fairly stiff sole, our tester found it surprisingly comfort-able from first wear. Credit the anatomical mid- and outsole, fine-tuned for supportc. and shock absorption on heel strikes and for extra cushion and ground contact at toe-off. 1.5 lbs (mens, pictured) / 1.2 lbs (womens)40OUTSIDEBUYERSGUIDE2020 | HIKE AND CAMPSBG20_HIKE_GOYHikers_rlsd_448817.indd 40 3/31/20 5:01 PM'