Hitting the Trails: Footwear Edition
Merrell's Outmost Mid Ventilator is my go to winter boot. While many prefer a higher cut in a winter boot, I still prefer these mids in conjunction with snowpants or other winter gear for hikes with deeper snow.
These boots are actually comfortable, which is hard to find in many boots. These boots are wide but not too wide, supportive in just the right places, and waterproof. The boot provides air cushioning in the heel that absorbs the shock of the trails.
In addition to the footbed of the boot being contoured for comfort, it provides odor control which is great if you are a Kimmy Gibbler like me and find a little too much stink after a hike seeping from your boots.
I am fortunate enough that these boots were a hand-me-down and this muddy winter they have been a life saver. Though not specified as hiking boots, Merrell's Aurora 6 have been a savior on the post-snowmelt muddy trails. The rubber around the toe and heel of the boot prevent moisture from seeping in. The faux fur provides warmth around the ankles and a fun, girlier flair. Be warned, the boots themselves are a little heavy, weighing about a pound each. Be prepared to be a bit sore or to work your way into longer hikes in these boots.
During the drier season my go to hiking boot is Keen's Terradora Waterproof Mid. Sorry menfolk, but this shoe is designed specifically with us ladies in mind. It is a lightweight "boot" weighing in at 12.8 oz that is light enough for all day wear. I've been known to wear these out on a morning hike and around town for some post-hike beverages and food.
The ankle padding is great for me as I tend to go weak in the ankles at beautiful sights. But in all seriousness the ankle padding is great for support and I am always thankful for the padding as I am a klutz and tend to bump my ankles on rockier trails.
The shoes do have a waterproof feature that allows the boots to be worn in the rain. However, since they are a lighter shoe I personally feel they are better for the dryer days. However because of the mesh embedded in the shoe, it is easy for vapor (stink) to escape or any water that may have bypassed the waterproofing.
Trails Runs/Easy Hikes
For trail runs and easier hikes that don't require as much ankle support I prefer New Balance's 590s. While their shoes might not be the most stylish on the trail, the fit and performance of their shoes are impeccable. Rather than spending their money on signing celebrities or athletes to be spokespeople for their brand, they spend their money on researching new shoe technology and designing the right fit.
This shoe provides the stability Rocky Mountain runners need with just the right amount of ankle and arch support. The tread grips strongly to increase traction on the dusty and rocky trails of the Foothills. These same grips will assist with traction in both wet and dry weather on the trails. These shoes even pull through while hitting the pavement of Denver, with cushioning that also makes it a comfortable walking around town shoe.
The only downfalls I have found are the sizing of the shoes. As most New Balances tend to run small and narrow. Typically NB's run one half size too small, and some have reported that the shoes do run a bit narrow. So before buying, head to the store to be sure of a perfect fit, or prepare yourself to return for a different size.