Zamberlan 230 SH Crosser Plus GTX RR
$170, 2 lbs. (men’s US 9/Euro 43)
Sizes: US men’s 8-12, 13, 14, women’s 6-11
Having hiked and backpacked all over America and the world, I’m convinced few places test a pair of boots—especially lightweight boots—like New Hampshire’s White Mountains. So to put these new mid-cuts through the ringer, I wore them on a recent 25-mile, overnight hut trip from Crawford Notch to Franconia Notch in the Whites—including one of the most rugged sections of the Appalachian Trail. And the Crosser Plus impressed me as highly supportive and tough for its weight.
Although it’s as light as most low-cut hiking shoes, the Crosser Plus is heavily armored to protect your feet against bashing on rocks and roots, with a sturdy toe cap and full wrap-around Kevlar rand, a TPU plate under the arch, and an ankle-covering, slightly higher cut than many lightweight mids. The firm heel cup helped deliver plenty of protection and stability for walking on very rocky, uneven ground (where the ankle support from that higher cut also came in handy). The Gore-Tex membrane passed the standing-in-a-shallow-stream test without leaking, and yet breathed well—in part thanks to synthetic uppers: My feet never got very sweaty even on long, uphill slogs when I perspired heavily. The widely spaced, shallow lugs in the Vibram outsole, designed to minimize weight, shed mud easily and gripped well going up and down steep, granite slabs and rock-hopping boulders. I carried only a daypack weighing up to about 15 pounds on this hut trip, but confidently feel the boots can handle backpacking loads of up to around 35 pounds: For most hikers, unless you have exceptionally strong feet, a dual-density EVA midsole this light doesn’t have the cushioning for a heavier pack.
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 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.