The Hardrock
The Hardrock

What shoes provide light-and-fast performance and support?

I would like to do some long-distance fast hiking with about a 25- to 35-pound pack. What shoes or boots would be supportive enough for rough trails, but light and flexible enough to go fast? Ben Milledgeville, GA

The Hardrock

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Lots of good choices these days, Ben. You should easily find something. You sound as if you mean to hike good trails, and just make miles. So that simplifies things a little bit. If you have good ankles, you’d be okay with trail-runners. Montrail’s Hardrock shoes ($110) are tough trail-runners. Sort of superlight hikers. Low cut, but supportive, with a firm midsole to protect your feet. They won’t last forever, but you’ll get a good season out of them and love the light weight and the comfort. Try Vasque Aethers, too ($125). They’re very rugged shoes, with grippy soles and a stiff shank for protection and support.

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I do like a bit more support, myself. I’d go with Merrell Chameleon Ventilator 3s ($150). They’re a mid-height boot with just a bit more heft than trail-runners. Taller, of course, and a little firmer midsole. But also…a Gore-Tex booty to keep your feet dry. Very light and comfortable. I also like the Salomon 3D Fastpackers ($150). Very much like the Merrells—a boot made for traveling fast, with just enough support and protection to keep your feet happy and moving. Lowa Renegade Mids ($200) are just a bit heftier, but still very fast and light. Gore-Tex booty, and a nylon shank that really keeps your feet lined up.

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