Waterproof hiking shoes have come a long way from cumbersome, heavy boots to shoes that are actually comfortable. And that makes a difference when you’re packing and want to bring along versatile hikers that you can wear not only on the trail, but also after the long hiking day.
While I was in Ladakh, my regular daily hikers were the La Sportiva Women’s Synthesis Mid Shoes. I also packed the La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX boots for my technical days. But, truth be told, I was always happiest in the Synthesis shoes. Even on technical days, I enjoyed shedding the Trangos for the comfort of the Synthesis hikers for camp evenings.
The Synthesis shoe upper uses Nano-Cell and Gore-Tex Surround technology, which together allow your feet to breathe without compromising the waterproof protection. For stability, La Sportiva uses STB technology to stabilize the foot by wrapping and unifying the midsole with the upper, so everything feels locked-down, whether you’re hiking on dirt, gravel, or ice.
Speaking of ice, in Ladakh I didn’t have traction cleats along for the few frozen stream crossings, but the Synthesis shoes’ Vibram Nano sole did a pretty decent job. For serious ice walking, I’d definitely bring along cleats, but these were fine in a pinch for very short distances.
The thing I loved most about these shoes is that they were comfortable when wearing thick socks, without squeezing my feet. Many waterproof hikers fit a narrower foot, and since the front of my foot is a little wide, I often end up testing shoes that aren’t optimal for day-long comfort. These shoes were just right.
La Sportiva Women’s Synthesis Mid Shoes come in Fjord, a turquoise color that goes with more than you think, and lists for $185 on the La Sportiva site. There’s also a men’s version for the same price, which comes in a gray/green color scheme. You can find the shoes at REI, too.