Salomon Conquest GTX
$180, 2 lbs. 7 oz. (men’s 9)
Sizes: men’s 7-12, 13, women’s 5-10
Recovering from a deep bone bruise on the top of my left foot (suffered in a leader fall rock climbing a month earlier), I was hiking again for the first time when I wore these boots on a three-day backpacking trip to the Big Boulder Lakes in Idaho’s White Clouds Mountains. Hiking with my 12-year-old son, I carried up to 35 pounds for about 22 miles, with nearly 5,000 feet of uphill and downhill and significant sections of the route off-trail or on rough, user trails. I wanted a boot with a little more support and rigidity than most competitors in this midweight category, and the Conquest GTX delivered on that count.
The reasons: greater torsional rigidity than many models of similar weight, a firm heel cup with ample cushioning under the heel, and an above-the-ankle cut. The molded EVA midsole also felt very soft underfoot, and there’s abundant padding in the tongue and encasing the ankle. The fit is close in the heel through the midfoot for medium-volume feet, with plenty of wiggle room for toes—probably not for people with narrow feet. The split-suede uppers, a rubber toecap, and a perimeter mudguard armor the boots against abuse—they show no wear from miles of off-trail hiking, including steep scree. The Gore-Tex membrane never leaked, even when I stood in shallow creeks to test it, and it breathes well enough to prevent my feet from overheating on warm afternoons; they’re basically as breathable as many Gore-Tex boots in this category.
My one complaint: While the deep, widely spaced outsole lugs give good traction on most surfaces—including packed dirt, mud, and side-hilling steep, vegetated, off-trail slopes—they do not stick very well when scrambling rocky terrain.
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