The Patagonia Drifter A/C GORE-TEX wins our Editors' Choice award for the best all-around hiking shoe. It became our everyday shoe during the test period. From its first hike out of the box, a traverse on Mt. Massive, to short morning hikes along the river trail, we found it comfortable and supportive. Our feet stayed dry in puddles and heavy dew, and the upper held its shape well and dried out relatively quickly after stream crossings. Additionally, its Vibram sole, which includes recycled rubber, provided excellent traction in all conditions. Our testers loved this shoe for any adventure, but many backpackers will want more foot support for carrying medium loads.
Hikers seeking a lighter, more affordable shoe should consider the Keen Targhee 2, our Best Buy award winner. The North Face Ultra 109 GTX, a shoe that bridges the hiking shoe and trail running shoe categories, is an excellent choice for folks that want a more streamlined, agile product for fast hiking and trail running.