High performance hiking boots in the desert southwest may be one of the most important gear choices a hiker will make.
I spend most of my time on the trail snaking deep into the canyons of the Red Rock NCA, just west of Las Vegas. It’s very rocky terrain known for the varnished sandstone that draws hikers and climbers from near and far. In this environment, great – not good – hiking boots are essential.
The typical day hike in Red Rock starts with an open desert approach followed by closed canyon scrambling. Usually, these canyon hikes are defined by the hiker’s willingness to be at the edge of both their comfort zone and the countless ledges that provide the only means to access the depths of the canyon.
To safely explore these edges it is imperative to have full confidence in your footwear, particularly the soles. Hiking boots that are flexible to accommodate irregular foot movements and a sole that will grip the rock with absolute certainty are essential.
Waterproof hiking boots are a bonus
When you think desert, water may come to mind but its the scarcity that usually triggers the thought. However, many of the canyons in Red Rock have flowing water cutting its way down canyon. A day hiker will often find themselves crossing the creek countless times as they make their way into the belly of the canyon.
Patagonia Scree Shield Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots
For this reason, I decided to seek out waterproof hiking boots for the fall season. I’ve been testing the Patagonia Scree Shield Mid Waterproof hiking boots in Red Rock lately.
The Vibram® Release trail running outsole, made of TC5+ rubber delivers a much more confident grip on the Red Rock sandstone that I had anticipated. In fact, like the trail runners that I have been wearing all summer, these hiking boots actually take some time to get used to.
The grip is so sure that initially it would cause me to anticipate slips that wouldn’t happen. That’s a good thing though.
Another great feature of the Patagonia Scree Shield boots is the protection provided by the toe bumper which extends all the way around the base of the boot. In rocky environments like Red Rock or for hikers that frequently encounter scree slopes the added protection of this boot will certainly reduce foot bruising and excessive wear on the lower part of the boot.
From the first time I put them on, these hiking boots have delivered nothing short of a perfect fit. The upper provides noticeable ankle support but still allows the foot to move in the relatively awkward angles that canyon scrambling requires.
The Patagonia Scree Shield hiking boots are designed with a Dynamic Fit Lacing System, which is crucial for me. As a size 13.5, I am almost always between sizes but the lacing system provides the perfect balance of compression on the ankle and heel to lock my foot in place but still fit securely over the top of my foot. There is virtually no movement of my foot inside the boot.
This solves a very big problem for me in terrain like Gunsight Notch Canyon pictured above. When you spend considerable time walking on long slabs at either an incline, a decline, or a side pitch your feet will be tested.
As you friction climb a slab your foot has a tendency to compress against the back of the boot. When you descend, your toes are pushed into the front of the boot. And on a side pitch, your foot rocks to the downhill side. All of these movements promote slipping and blisters.
The Patagonia Scree Shield hiking boots minimized all of that movement and provided a grip on the slabs that was more sure than most other boots would deliver.
Canyon hiking presents many challenges that differ from those you will experience on more well maintained trails. The uneven rock surface, jagged points, and sketchy foot holds can often lead to foot fatigue by the end of a long day.
The 8 mile hike into Gunsight Notch Canyon was no sweat with these boots. The insoles and footbed showed no wear and left my feet feeling just fine. The same can not be said for my legs which are still recovering 2 days later.
I’ve been wearing trail runners for so long in this same terrain, but after wearing these boots I would say that it may be hard to go back. Though hiking boots weigh a bit more the value that they deliver in terms of foot fatigue is well worth it.