Ask Me: Which Boots Cross Over Well From Dayhiking to Backpacking?
I was wondering if you would recommend these Aku SL Sintesi Mid GTX boots for an average day of hiking as well as backpacking. I’m about to retire a pair of Merrells I’ve had for six years and my biggest complaint was that they were one dimensional, I took them backpacking, but they weren’t really sturdy enough. I am looking for a good, all-around boot that I could wear in intense, mountainous/snowy conditions or on a casual day of hiking with the family. I think I’ve narrowed down to these: Salomon Quest 4D GTX, Vasque St. Elias, and the Oboz Bridgers that you also reviewed. Any suggestions?
(Originally posted as a comment at “Gear Review: Aku SL Sintesi Mid GTX Boots.”)
That’s a good question that I get occasionally, from readers and friends, and my first response is always cautioning against trying to buy one boot for everything from light dayhikes to heavy-duty backpacking. It’s not that you can’t wear one pair of boots for all forms of hiking, it’s simply that it’s hard to find one pair that does everything well for you. You might wind up with one pair of boots that you don’t love for either dayhiking or backpacking. One pair may save you money in the short term, but possibly not in the long term if you wear them out faster than if you have one pair of shoes for dayhikes and one pair of boots for backpacking.
But I’ll try to answer your question. Yes, you could wear any of the boots you asked about for both dayhiking and backpacking. The Aku SL Sintesi Mid GTX, Salomon Quest 4D GTX, and the Vasque St. Elias GTX are intended more for heavy-duty backpacking, so they’re heavier, stiffer, and hotter than I prefer when dayhiking. The Salomon Conquest GTX and the Oboz Bridger Mid BDry are a bit lighter and more flexible as a crossover boot, as are the Scarpa Tech Ascent GTX, while still giving you the support and protection for backpacking in wet or snowy conditions. You may also want to consider a boot that’s even lighter and more flexible but has support for backpacking with a moderate load, the La Sportiva Hyper Mid GTX.
Everyone’s feet are different, so I don’t know how much support you need for backpacking or how much you prefer for dayhiking. You might get lucky and discover that one of these models, or a model I haven’t mentioned, is the perfect, all-around boot for you. But as I suggested above, you should consider whether your goal of finding just one pair of boots (and if you have economic reasons, so be it) is important enough that you’re willing to accept one pair of footwear that isn’t perfect for either dayhiking or backpacking.
You may want to read the relevant advice I offered in this post answering another reader’s question about choosing between heavier and lighter boots.
Thanks for everything.
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I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for more than 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu.
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