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GOOD: Adidas’s Terex Swift R GTX hiking shoes. I detest hiking boots; absolutely detest them. But hiking shoes are hard to come by — quality ones, anyway. I picked up a pair of these from REI ($135) back in the winter and fell in love with them. They are without question the best shoes I’ve ever tried on the trail. They’re comfortable enough for an all-day hike without blisters, fit perfectly, and Gore-Tex finishing touch removes puddles as an obstacle on the trail. I will buy another pair of these when I’ve worn mine out, but so far they’re holding up well.


BAD: I’m not a minimalist by nature. But I do enjoy going barefoot . . . I’m just not brave enough to jump into the barefoot hiking fad with both feet. So when I saw these Amuri Z-Trek minimalist sport sandals from Xero in a Backpacker magazine ad, I had to have a pair. I purchased a pair from the Xero website ($60). I was sold on the fact that they can be folded and fit into just about any nook or cranny of a backpack, they’re billed as lightweight sandals you can hike in or even run a marathon in, and the fact that they come with a 5,000-mile warranty. So much for trail hiking in comfort. I couldn’t even go a day at the beach without blisters. The concept is good . . . but the design just hasn’t caught up yet. The strap system just doesn’t cut it. Now I have a pair of $60 sandals in my closet, where they’ll probably stay forever, while I wear a pair of $5 Walmart flip-flops. What’s wrong with this picture?!