[August 2010 Update: Last fall I bought a pair of Vasque Mantra hiking shoes on clearance at REI for $20. The Vasque Mantras are now my favorites, and I’ll keep on buying them (but if you have high arches the Vasque Breeze Low hiking shoes will probably fit you better). Last spring I bought a pair of North Face Hedgehog low-top waterproof hikers. I find that after 4 hours of hiking the Hedgehogs hurt my feet, especially where my foot meets my ankle. The Hedgehog tongues and metal eyelets seem poorly designed.]
A hiking acquaintance asked me, “A friend of mine just emailed and asked who else, other than Merrell, makes a sturdy hiking boot. Since you seemed to know all the brands, what would be your advice?”
I emailed her my answer:
Boots: I like Merrell, Danner, Vasque, and Columbia brands (and maybe Lowa).
I have found that Danner makes the sturdiest boots (which often weigh more than others), and hunters often say that Danners are the best. Lowas are made in Eastern Europe (rather than in China). Vasque makes quite a few light-weight models.
The REI-brand boots are made by Merrell and Vasque. So it seems that REI likes Merrell and Vasque. But one long-time REI employee says that he likes Lowa best (that they are “made in Slovakia, not China”).
One friend of mine wears only Montrail boots. Asolo makes sturdy boots, too. The sturdiest boots are made for backpacking (day hikers buy the lighter boots and shoes).
In summary, I like Merrell and Danner boots and I want to buy some Lowa boots. (And I like low-top Columbia hiking shoes for short hikes up and down hills and low peaks.)
Here is a link to all the various boots at Campmor (which is known for its very competitive prices): Hiking Boots at Campmor
Here is the link to Danner Boots: http://www.danner.com
And here is the link to Lowa: http://www.lowaboots.com/home/
I also recommended the following products and services:
insulated sleeping pad: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Sleeping Pad
good pack cover (for rain); get the size thast fits your pack: Sea to Summit SN240 Ultra-Light Siliconized Cordura Pack Cover
extremely lightweight 2mm cord (buy 50 ft): http://www.rei.com/product/716685
REI equipment rentals: http://www.rei.com/stores/rentals.html
Don’t Forget the Duct Tape by Kristin Hostetter — how to repair your hiking and camping gear: Don’t Forget the Duct Tape: Tips & Tricks for Repairing & Maintaining Outdoor & Travel Gear (Don’t Series)
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