The Columbia North Plains II Mid is the lightest and least expensive pair of boots included in this review. In fact, its weight, mesh and leather upper, and tight fit makes this product feel part trail runner, part hiker. The North Plains II is at home on groomed trails with few obstacles and a very light pack, especially for those who prefer just a little extra ankle support and water resistance. That said, this boot is not an all-rounder, and clearly showed its limits when tested on more rigorous trails and with heavier packs.
Some lightweight competitors, Keen and Vasque, in this review offer superior performance and versatility. For $35 more, you could walk away with the sturdier and very comfortable Best Buy award winner, the Keen Targhee II Mid. Or, if you like the trail running shoe feeling, the Vasque Inhaler II GTX provides better traction, ankle protection, and great breathability, while maintaining a very low weight.