L.L.Bean Gore-Tex Cresta Hikers, Leather (GTX)
Use: varied trails with heavy pack
Break-in Period: 2 weeks
Price Paid: $169
I have tried a lot of boots and none compared to this one. My feet are a bit messed up (narrow heel, really high arch, and wide forefoot), and I require custom orthotics which most boots just don't accommodate. I had looked at/tried out Vasque, Merrel, Danner, Montrail, Dunham and Asolo before reading the good reviews on the Cresta. Right out of the box they felt OK and with my footbeds the boot was great.
I wore them around the neighborhood for two weeks and then did a four day walk on the Appalachian Trail. Lots of rain the first day - no problem. Ridge walking the second and third days was a breeze and a long, steep downhill on the last day proved no match for these boots. My foot never left the heel cup and my toes were never rubbed against the front of the boot. For the money, easily the best boot I've ever owned.