Ask Me: Advice on Buying Lightweight Boots

Hi Michael,

I hope all is well with you. I talked to you a couple of months ago about winter packs and you were extremely helpful.

I need new boots for hiking/light backpacking, and I have a very high-arched foot and wear after-market insoles. My last pair of boots were Kaylands and they were incredible, but off course they stopped shipping to the USA.

I’m wondering which boot you think is better Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR or La Sportiva Hyper Mid GTX?

I also was wondering if you had any experience with the Aku Transalpina boot? Backpacker rated them the best for high-arched feet, but I only can get them through Amazon, through a company in Germany.

Thank you in advance, I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Hi Mike,

Nice to hear from you again. I’ve also been a longtime fan of Kayland boots, which fit like few other boots, in my opinion. I was the Backpacker editor who convinced my colleagues to give the Vertigo High, a great boot, an Editor’s Choice Award several years ago. I hope Kayland starts selling in the U.S. again.

Your question doesn’t really invite a black-and-white answer for various reasons that depend on what you need for boots. First and foremost, no boots are the best boots for you unless they fit you well. You should get your foot size measured by someone who knows how to do that (in a good outdoor retailer) and try on boots before buying. Try on several models and do it later in the day, when your feet are typically slightly swollen from a normal day’s activity, and walk around in them. I would not just take a chance ordering online sight-unseen.

That said, the Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR and La Sportiva Hyper Mid GTX are both great boots and very comparable. I don’t see much difference in arch support between them; both deliver moderate support there, and your after-market insoles will improve them both and probably negate any slight difference between them in that department. I’d say the Zamberlans have slightly better torsional rigidity (the support that helps prevent, for instance, rolling your ankles), while the Sportiva’s materials and construction will, I believe, make them more durable. The Zamberlans have a slightly wider platform, which means they may feel more stable (reassuring if you’re the type of hiker who gets very cautious descending a steep, rough trail); while the Sportivas feel more nimble for quick scrambling, and have an incredibly sticky outsole that grips well in a huge range of conditions.

If you want a lightweight boot, they’re both excellent choices. I honestly don’t think they differ as much in arch support as in the other attributes I mentioned above.

I have not worn the Aku Transalpina, but based on the Backpacker review of them, and their weight and description, I would confidently speculate that they are more supportive than either the Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR or the La Sportiva Hyper Mid GTX. I’m not sure that either will have the kind of arch support you’re looking for, which your after-market insoles may provide for you better than any boots, anyway. In general, I’ve hiked in other Aku models and always considered them high-quality, good-fitting, supportive boots. I will likely backpack in the Aku SL Sintesi Mid GT soon and probably review them at The Big Outside, as well as provide feedback if Backpacker wants to publish a review.

But again, most importantly, you should try on boots before buying.

Did I answer your question?



Thank you. The Vertigo High is the Kayland boot that I had. I agree I always like to try on boots because they’re all different, (but) I’ve had a hard time finding any of the three boots in New England area. I used get my boots at Evans on the common in Townsend, Mass., but they no longer have Kayland or Aku and don’t have either the Zamberlan or the La Sportiva. Any suggestions?


What brands can you find within driving distance? Have you tried the REI stores in Framingham or Reading, Mass.?


Hi Michael,

REI carries the Zamberlan, but only online, and Moosejaw, which is near me, carries the La Sportiva, but only online! Guess I’ll just order, because both have great return policies.


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2 thoughts on “Ask Me: Advice on Buying Lightweight Boots”

  1. How about boots for people with wide feet? My shoe width, depending on manufacturer, is EEE or EEEE. I had no success finding a mass-produced boot in that width, light or otherwise, so I ended up getting a custom Limmer boot a decade ago. Fits great, and it’s still going strong, but it took 18 months to get it made, and it’s probably the heaviest boot I’ve ever owned. I’d really love something lighter that I can wear but still am not finding anything….

    • Hi Bob, EEE or EEEE that’s really hard. Keen’s run wide in the toe box, but I doubt that EEE would fit them. I would try going to an Rei and asking customer service the largest width that each company makes. Special order them and try them on. If they don’t fit return on the spot.


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