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Ahnu Elkridge Shoe

I like the idea of lightweight hiking footwear as much as the next person, but until I tested Ahnu's Elkridge shoe I hadn't found the stability and protection I want in a trail shoe.

There are a lot of lightweight shoes out there, but not many with a firm enough sole for me. I prefer a thicker, firmer sole over a flexible shoe any day because the more miles I hike, the more the support protects my feet and legs from impact. The Elkridge strikes the perfect balance for me; the soles are thick enough to provide the stability I need but not so rigid that I end up working against my shoes (or that the shoes feel clunky).

I've been wearing the Elkridge for more than a month now, and I'm impressed. I get the support and durability of a leather hiking boot without having to wear a heavy boot. The Elkridge has a nice thick sole, as well as an aggressive tread, so it's been comfortable both on the trails and around town. I've been satisfied with the traction on muddy trails strewn with wet leaves. The Elkridge is also waterproof, thanks to the eVent brand lining, so I've been able to hike in pouring rain (my girlfriend insists!) without my feet getting wet. I never realized what a difference waterproof footwear makes. I can stay out longer because my feet are dry and happy.

Initially, there was a short break-in period with these shoes. Nothing major, but now that the shoes have moulded to my feet I'm loving the fit. I think the Elkridge runs a bit small because I needed so go up a 1/2 size. I really like the look of this shoe. The dark grey leather and nubuck uppers make the Elkridge right at home on the city streets, and the construction makes them perfect for the trail. (Thanks, Ahnu, for the Elkridge's gusseted tongue that prevents dirt and debris from getting into my shoe.)

I really like having an all-leather shoe; it's durable, easy to care for, and I like the look. Most of all, I appreciate getting the benefits of wearing a hiking boot without the weight or bulk. I can easily wear my Elkridge shoes out for day hikes and other outdoor adventures since most of the hiking I do isn't so challenging that I feel the need for the ankle support of a heavy boot.

The Elkridge is available in Gunmetal and Military Olive in men's sizes 7-14, and in a boot. Ahnu makes a similar shoe for women called the Montara, also available in a boot. (On sale at Amazon. )

Bottom Line: I'm very happy with these shoes for every day wear and for hiking. I always know when I've found a good shoe. I don't have to think about it; I just lace it up, and go.-–B.M. (Nov. 2011)

BUY ONLINE : $130, shop at REI, free shipping.

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.