Gear Review: Garmont Trail Guide 2.0 GTX Boots
Garmont Trail Guide 2.0 GTX
$220, 2 lbs. 7 oz. (US men’s 9)
Sizes: US men’s 7-13.5
Most boots designed for backpacking aren’t flashy in their design or technology—making it a challenge to distinguish them from one another. But some stand out for subtle reasons, a fact I was reminded of while wearing the Trail Guide 2.0 GTX on a three-day, roughly 23-mile, mid-August backpacking trip with my teenage son in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, carrying up to about 40 pounds in my pack. They delivered all that I usually look for in a backpacking boot, with a nice fit and a midweight package that doesn’t compromise on support or durability.
From the first step on the trail every morning through wearing them untied and open around camp every evening, the medium-volume fit cradled my feet from midfoot to the firm, supportive heel cup, while leaving wiggle room for my toes—a fit that achieves a delicate balance between preventing feet from feeling cramped and from slipping forward (and banging toes) on steep descents. The 1.6 mm, water-repellent, suede leather uppers are durable and have a nice, supple feel that embraced my feet; and the well-padded, mesh tongue and collar offer a little more breathability and are soft on the ankles after long miles. The asymmetric collar has a slight notch on the lateral side (outside) for more comfort, and rises a bit higher on the medial side (inside) for better stability.
Those design elements combined with ample forward flex meant the boots felt light on my feet, allowed a natural, unencumbered gait that you don’t get with stiffer boots, and required virtually no break-in time. The dual-density EVA midsole and G-Benefit PU insoles blend enough cushion for carrying loads of 35 to 40 pounds with stiffness pads that enhance heel support.
The boot is armored for hard use, beginning with a rubber bumper that wraps completely around the toes. Durable, metal lacing eyelets enable smooth lacing in the forefoot, while a webbing loop acts as a simple lace lock at midfoot, allowing you to adjust the laces more loosely around the ankle than below it (for uphills); metal lace hooks secure the top of the boot.
I splashed through and stood in creeks for minutes at a time without the Gore-Tex Extended Comfort membrane leaking; and it breathed well enough that my feet got somewhat sweaty but never overheated on August days of warm sunshine and highs in the 70s Fahrenheit. The Vibram Q 664 outsole has a variable pattern that includes deep, widely spaced lugs to shed mud and snow, a less-aggressive tread under the toes for purchase on rock, and a pronounced heel for downhill traction and braking. The boots gripped well in terrain from packed dirt to scree and granite slabs.
Garmont’s Trail Guide 2.0 GTX delivers the performance you might look for in a heavier, stiffer boot, but in a lighter, softer package. It’s a good choice for many backpackers or dayhikers who seek supportive boots for carrying light to moderate loads, and for backpackers with strong feet and legs who want good support and protection for carrying heavy packs, without the weight and confining feel of burlier boots.
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NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.
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