WITH 15 FOOTWEAR companies tinkering away in a city that hosts one of the country’s richest collections of close-in hiking options, Portland is a living laboratory for trail shoes. But the choices can be daunting: Waterproof vs. breathable? Light or heavy? Low profile or ankle-hugging? To help you decide, we enlisted the aid of walkers who really know their shoes—park rangers, Forest Service workers, Water Bureau field researchers, outdoor editors and writers—and put some of Portland’s best offerings to the test. Our wearers logged more than 200 hours in their shoes, rating them on everything from comfort and fit to traction, stability, and breathability. The results? Eleven trail-tested, trekker-approved kicks ripe for summer adventures.
METHODOLOGY: We approached all of Portland’s outdoor and activewear shoe companies about our Trail Shoe guide, inviting each company to submit up to two styles per gender to be reviewed. Some companies submitted four, others only one or two and some opted not to participate at all. Each company also filled out a survey about each shoe, so the testers might best understand how it was designed to be used. Testers included outdoor editors and writers, park rangers, forest service rangers, water bureau field workers, and outdoor program directors. Our testers scored each shoe from 1 (worst) to 5 (best) on a variety of metrics, including fit, comfort, traction, stability, breathability, and toe protection. Shoes claiming to be waterproof were also tested on this component. Scores were tallied to give us the top Portland trail shoes. To see detailed score sheet information as well as company surveys, simply click on the link below the shoe for a pdf (On the following pages).