Trekking up a big mountain is no small feat. You need to have solid cardiovascular health, watch your footing when maneuvering over gravel and logs, and have a game plan in the event that you come face-to-face with an animal that could eat you as a mid-afternoon snack. It can be daunting if you’re a newbie, but I’m all about living life on the edge—and hey, you’ve gotta get off your laptop sometimes and bump fists with nature.
I’m a distance runner and have been looking for a non-boring, not-too-strenuous cross-training workout that I can do in between runs. Hiking is relatively low-impact on the knees (if you’re moving at a moderate pace) and works out muscles you wouldn’t normally use during a run. But just like my runs, hiking is not made possible without the proper footwear. I put a ton of thought into selecting the right running shoes, so naturally, I wanted to be thoughtful about picking out the boots that would take me to unforeseen peaks. That’s where my new go-to hiking boots come in: the Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX.
Hoka runners have long been providing fantastic support and stability on my distance running ventures for a while now; I became a fan the day I ran a pain-free 10K race in the Bondi 7s. The brand has been a godsend for my feet, to say the least, and IMO, it deserves never-ending praise—and gets plenty from not only me, but tons of other runners who live by its springy soles. It’s no secret that Hoka always keeps me coming back for more, so did I expect this time to be any different? Not a chance. While it’s a new addition to Hoka’s lineup, the Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX hiking boot already has a 4.4-out-of-5-star rating on Hoka’s website, which is a green flag. “I hike through New Hampshire mostly, so I’m wearing these boots over rocks and through river crossings constantly,'' one reviewer wrote. “I've never worn a more comfortable boot—never had a blister and no crushed toes.” That review speaks to my soul—once I get a blister, it’s game over for comfort. So naturally, I had to take them for a spin myself.
The Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX is a semi-lightweight hiking boot designed for tackling trails and mountains like a pro. The silhouette is engineered with lightweight leather, recycled polyester, and Gore-Tex fabric to keep your feet dry, should you encounter mud, puddles, or creeks. Wet socks are hell, so as a hiker, it’s a big deal to be able to circumvent the anxiety of mounting trails that get close to bodies of water. The Anacapa Mid GTX sole is also crafted with extended heel geometry for soft impact and smooth heel-to-toe transitions, while much needed traction is provided from the Vibram Megagrip outsole. Traction is extremely important when it comes to rock scrambles, since wiping out can easily cause an injury. These boots offer stable support with a symmetrical cushion bed for neutral balance—also a necessity for stepping on unstable, shaky rocks.
To be frank, while I really enjoy hiking, I’m relatively new to it. I’ve done some steep mountain trails here and there when traveling across the U.S., but have never pursued the super-challenging options on AllTrails. This past weekend, I encountered my first true hike with obstacles that would usually put me on edge if I hadn’t been wearing the correct footwear: I hiked up the Bear Mountain Major Welch trail, which is 4.1 miles and has a 1,177-foot elevation gain. Some experienced hikers may say that trail is for amateurs, but the barrage of rock scrambles makes it a somewhat tedious hike that will be a struggle if you don’t have the right traction. I can honestly say the trail wasn’t much of a challenge, and I felt genuinely confident even on the trickier parts—and aside from my running experience and cardio fitness, I owe it all to the Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX boots.
Although they may look heavy duty, these boots are very lightweight; they did not feel heavy on my feet and were quite breathable given that it was a pretty hot day, too. The fit is very roomy, which is essential for me since I have bunions (ugh, cursed). It’s no surprise the boots have received a Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Associate, which recognizes products beneficial to foot health. The boot doesn’t come in a wide width option, but it’s unnecessary ,since I wore thick Nike socks and still felt like I had adequate space. As an added bonus, given its high top silhouette, ticks and bug bites were not a worry. With three lace hooks, the shoes stayed secured all day. If you’re not worried about bugs and bites, they also come in a low-top version. But most importantly, they were super-stable. Not one time did I feel like I was going to slip on gravel, steep inclines, or rocks. I was sturdy and solid on my feet the whole time, and that says a lot, because I’m a clumsy lass.
TL;DR: These hiking boots are making me itch to get back out into the wilderness already. If you’re looking for a lightweight, stable hiking boot with added extras in terms of comfort and practicality, I can confidently say that this model is a trusty steed and deserves a spot in your hiking gear lineup, whether you’re a newbie or experienced thru-hiker. Once winter rolls around, I also plan on wearing these when it snows, given their traction and waterproof fabric. I thought they might just be sneaker kings, but good news—Hoka is a jack of all (footwear) trades.
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