Gear: Shoes for hiking the trail and backpacking

Lowa Jannu Mid
If walking’s not exactly the calorie-burning, heart-rate-rocking fitness adventure you were hoping for, consider adding two things: a mountain and some hiking shoes. Whether you tramp up the Backbone Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains for a couple hours or tackle the John Muir Trail in the Sierras for several days, the journey will go more smoothly if you’re wearing footwear designed for the task. With rock-stopping soles and burly, supportive exteriors, these four models offer great value for a variety of hiking styles and conditions. And the views aren’t so bad, either.

-- Roy M. Wallack
Irvine-based endurance cyclist and runner Roy M. Wallack is the coauthor of “Bike for Life: How to Ride to 100.” Reach him at

Already broken-in

Lowa Jannu Mid: Sturdy, mid-ankle, suede leather boot that can handle day hikes and backpacking on Mt. Whitney.

Likes: Burly but doesn’t feel like it. Immediately comfortable, with no break-in period, unlike many other serious hiking boots. That’s due to a wide toe box, padded leather lining around the ankle and a shock-absorbing polyurethane insert under the heel. Feels lighter and faster than its 1 pound, 10 ounces (size 9.5). The stiff sole from Vibram, the world’s most prestigious sole maker, offers great foot support, rock protection and fatigue resistance even if you’re carrying a heavy pack on a multi-day trek.

Dislikes: A deep-mountain boot such as this will make you cry for waterproofing when you hit stream crossings or snow. (A similar Lowa model with Gore-Tex, the Khumbu Mid GTX, is $20 more.)

Price: $170. (888) 335-5692;

Do Lowa Jannu Mid, Scarpa Zen, Five Ten Camp 4 and Oboz Yellowstone stand up to the hiker’s challenge?