Lightweight boots for trail or everyday use |

Lightweight boots for trail or everyday use

Mark Fox/The Aspen Times

It was a spontaneous purchase. Munching lunch one late March day in Basalt, I glanced over at the sale rack at Bristlecone Mountain Sports and saw some trail shoes. Like most people in the valley, I usually try several pairs and do some research. But not this time.In need of hiking shoes to begin my spring workout, I spied a pair of Nikes that were reasonably priced and looked good for hiking. And – bonus! – they were in my size. I liked them so much that, while still wearing them, I handed over the cash and walked out in the shoes.

Wearing my new Nike ACG Air Wallowa II lightweight hiking boots on assignment that warm March day, the first thing I noticed was how comfortable they are. The second, how cool in heat. The third, how well they grip on rock ( I was scrambling over the rocks with a gaggle of Basalt Elementary students at the park next to Taqueria El Nopal).Shaped more like tennis shoes than hiking boots, the low cut comes under the ankle rather than against it – a nice feature for those who don’t like their shoes rubbing their ankle bones. On rougher trails, the shoes provide a solid foot bed and hold the foot securely.The boots come equipped with a molded rubber toe – nice for klutzes like me whose feet seem to find every protrusion in every trail. The rubber, which I think is becoming standard on most boots, helps to keep the shoe’s shape and prevent scratching.

The Vibram® sole has lugs on the edge, like the tread on a mountain bike tire, for a hearty grip on boulders or slickrock.With nubuck leather uppers and Vibram® soles, the shoes are flexible and easy to wear. They’re not too stiff on bumpy trails, but they’re also not so bendable that you feel every rock underfoot. With a Gore-Tex inner shell, these shoes are described as waterproof. The easy-to-clean surfaces are nice when you walk through the unseen mud hole. (I guess they’re waterproof as long as the water isn’t more than ankle-deep.)

It’s nice on longer hikes and walks to wear a shoe that you hardly even feel. According to the specs, these lightweight boots average 17.4 ounces. The literature says you can go for a 20-mile hike right out of the box. My comfort level rose as the shoes continued to break in. Now I wear them as a daily work shoe, as well as for hiking. They’re equally comfortable on sidewalk or trail.Unfortunately, thanks to annual changes in models and styles, Nike has discontinued the shoes. The forces of fashion sometimes eliminate even the best.

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