The best boot for heavy loads in 2021
Sure, trail runners are great, but on heavy hikes and mountaineering trips you’ll always need something more rugged, no matter how many ounces you shave. These 6 hiking boots are tough enough to handle mileage and elevation no matter how heavy the pack is. Outside + members can read the full review, as well as anything we post. Not a member? Get a taste below with our review of the most favorable of the bunch.
Best Support: SCARPA Ribelle HD
Overall: 4.5 / 5
The Ribelle HD blurs the line between a hiking boot and a lightweight mountaineering boot. Fortunately, its comfort has the DNA of the old. We liked the slim fit, and the heel and lacing did a good job of keeping toes from bumping into long descents. A rocker sole that the designers borrowed from SCARPA’s trail running shoes helped alleviate fatigue from stiff mountaineering boots. Although on longer hikes, like a 12 mile trip to Washington National Park, the stiffness of the boot (which shortened our stride slightly) resulted in some discomfort towards the end of the day. The Ribelle HD’s HDry membrane kept our feet dry while hiking along the Lower Big Quilcene River, but our toes got sweaty when the temperatures hit the mid-70s. Ding: The Ribelle HD is expensive.
It is the most robust boot in the test. The Ribelle HD’s rigid suede upper tightens around the ankle and is paired with a PU / TPU midsole to make it easy to carry a 50-pound bag on PNW trails off-camber. On steep terrain, a narrow toe and polypropylene midsole make the boot’s mountaineering chops shine (it has a heel welt and stiff construction to accommodate semi-automatic crampons). On long summer backpacking trips that went through snow and ice at Olympic, the Ribelle HD kept us comfortable and stable.
The designers chose Vibram’s Precision Tech Roll outsole, which combines flat cleats at the toe to scramble with larger, deeper cleats further back on the foot to handle mud. Wet rocks were no problem, and neither were the slippery slopes on Washington’s Upper Dungeness Trail: rocks in its wake. The stiff sole and grippy tread of the Ribelle HD helped me get through the wash with confidence, ”said one tester.
The ultra-durable suede upper of this boot is nearly one-piece, eliminating seam issues, and a giant rubber wrap rand (rubber on front, PU on back) has the durability to go downhill. crampons from a real high mountain boot: or tears after days of wearing crampons. While the toe-level outsole doesn’t have the same net edging capability after 90 miles of use, other signs of wear are non-existent.
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