Recommended footwear for deserts and canyons

Footwear is consistently the most discussed topic among the clients on our guided trips in southern Utah during the planning phases. It comes up in our online discussion board, during gear list reviews, and on our virtual group calls. Why? I think it’s due to:

  1. This region’s unique conditions, and
  2. The outsized repercussions of wearing inappropriate footwear on these trips.

This post should be helpful for any reader who is planning a backpacking trip in a desert, including but not limited to southern Utah and northern Arizona. For years I’ve been wanting to write it; going forward, I’ll keep it updated as existing models change and as new models are introduced.


My list of recommended footwear is very intentional. But if you don’t care to read my reasonings, start shopping based on this list:

The La Sportiva Mutant (men’s, women’s) is my overall pick for backpacking and light canyoneering, and my personal favorite. Katie Gerber, the co-director of my guiding program, prefers the Astral Loop (women’s only) for the same applications.

For more technical trips, consider the more robust La Sportiva TX3 (men’s, women’s) or TX4 (men’s, women’s).

The Altra Lone Peak (generations 4-8; not 1-3) and Salomon Speedcross (men’s, women’s) are okay for backpacking trips with light technical terrain only. If you can still find them, the Topo Ultraventure Pro (men’s) is probably a better choice. Also consider the La Sportiva Wildcat and possibly the Ultra Raptor (which is closely related but about which I don’t have a recent first-hand report).

La Sportiva is the most prominently featured brand on this page, because they make excellent outdoor footwear. I have no affiliation with them.

Expected conditions

Decisions about clothing, footwear, and equipment should account for the conditions that will likely be encountered. In the desert, footwear selection is most driven by these three to five conditions:

  • Warm to hot daytime temperatures, low humidity, and abundant sunshine
  • Extensive bare rock, like slickrock
  • Pokey and scratchy vegetation

Fine-grained blow sand is a hallmark of trips on the Colorado Plateau (e.g. Grand Canyon, Moab, Escalante). Its significance is most acute when off-trail; on established trails, the sand becomes somewhat compacted by the traffic. In deserts with different geological origins (e.g. Anza-Borrego in southern California, which has more metamorphic rocks), sand may not be a concern.

Periodic water crossings and wading is the final consideration, with the frequency and depth depending on the route, time of year, and recent weather events. In Escalante, our groups are in water on most days, ranging from ankle-deep creeks that can almost be hopped across to full-on swims in deep canyons.

Thigh-deep ford of the Escalante, which is an hourly occurrence when hiking up or down the canyon.

Characteristics of good desert shoes

For desert locations it’s critical that shoes are:

1. Breathable. Problems arise when feet are wet and/or hot for extended periods. Versus “waterproof” shoes, breathable models dry out more quickly and trap less heat.

2. Durable. The desert is hard on shoes, particularly the uppers. They come into contact with scratchy sage, prickly cacti, and sandpaper-like sandstone; and they are regularly getting wet and drying out. Durability is model-specific; universal rules about various classes of materials (e.g. meshes, leathers, rubbers, adhesives) do not exist. My best advice is to use models from brands that have a good track record, at least based on online reviews; better yet, stick with brands with which you have a good track record.

Depending on the location and your activity, it could also be critical that your shoes are:

3. Sand-resistant. Sand-filled shoes are uncomfortable; they lead to blisters; and they necessitate regular time-consuming stops in order to dump them out. To determine if shoes are sand-resistant, it’s best to field-test them (or have someone else field-test them). If you can’t do that, start with the tongue. Gusseted tongues, which connect to the upper on both sides, will keep out more sand. Then perform the “flashlight test” on the upper:

  • If direct light passes through, keep looking — these models are definitively not sand-resistant.
  • If some ambient light passes through, performance will likely be so-so. Double-layer meshes will block direct light, but will still allow sand to filter through them.
  • If no light passes through, you have a winner, at least in this regard.

Breathability and sand-resistance are somewhat mutually exclusive. Ideally, find the most breathable shoe that is still sand-resistant. But if you must favor one characteristic over the other, err towards greater sand-resistance for trips in sandy locations.

I’m not overexaggerating the importance of sand-resistance. Would you want to do this every hour?

4. Sticky (rubber). High performance rubber compounds are more capable and confidence-inspiring when hiking, scrambling, or climbing on rock. Good purchase is exceptionally important on slickrock, which has good grip but few features like ledges, pockets, and knobs. All things being equal, stickier rubber will be less durable. Manufacturers like La Sportiva that make hiking shoes and climbing shoes seem to have higher performing rubber compounds; we also like Vibram Megagrip.

5. Stiffness and lateral stability. Hiking across angled slopes (“side-hilling”) and up/down steep terrain places different pressure on footwear. Shoes that fit loosely, that have mushy midsoles, and/or that are high off the ground will perform poorly in these scenarios. Determine a model’s lateral stability by wear-testing it in a store, by twisting it linearly (holding the toe in one hand, the heel in the other), and finding the stack height spec.

Recommended shoes for desert backpacking

I have been guiding trips in southern Utah for almost ten years, and these recommendations are based on my first-hand experience and that of hundreds of clients.

La Sportiva Mutant

I’m placing the Mutants (men’s, women’s) first in this list, even though it’s otherwise alphabetical, because they check all the boxes and are my personal pick for backpacking. Breathable, sand-resistant, durable, sticky, and stable. They fit average-sized feet, but can be tightened down for people like me who would otherwise prefer the Bushido. For pure technical canyoneering trips, other models with more lateral stiffness and more durability could be a better pick, though the Mutants are “good enough” for this application, too, according to our guides.

La Sportiva Mutant, my personal favorite and probably the overall best pick

Altra Lone Peak (4 and up)

If your feet are paddle-like or if your planned route is mostly on high quality Pacific Crest Trail-like trails, the Lone Peak 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 could be an option. Starting with the fourth generation, Altra began using the same upper as in the (very sand-resistant) Salomon Speedcross to remedy their notoriously poor durability (which may not have entirely fixed the problem, per Thomas). They also improved the outsole, to the respectable MaxTrac.

For normal-sized feet and for more challenging terrain, the Lone Peak is a tough sell. The fit will be too sloppy and the midsole is too soft.

Altra Lone Peak

Astral Loop

These are Katie’s favorites. She wore them for a Grand Canyon traverse, the Pfiffner Traverse, local 13ers and 14ers, and most other personal and guided trips that she’s done in the past couple of years. 

“I recommend them for their supreme sand-resistance and durability. Because Astral has its roots in PFDs and river footwear, the same features that make great river shoes — grippy on rock, well-draining, and quick drying — also make them great desert shoes. They don’t have quite the stiffness as some of the other models on this list but I’ve never found their lateral stability to be an issue when off-trail. They’re also zero drop and have a wide-ish toe box, so they’re great for people who prefer that type of fit.”

The Loops after 850 hard miles! Trashed but remarkably still in tact.

La Sportiva TX3 and TX4

The La Sportiva TX3 (men’s, women’s) and TX4 (men’s, women’s) are closely related and are top contenders for technical canyon travel because of their durability, stability, and sticky rubber. Notice that they feature a protective toe cap and outer rand, and a smear plate. Both models are too much shoe for pure backpacking trips, and their sand-resistance is only so-so. The TX3 is probably a better choice if most of your trips are wet; the TX4, if most of your trips are dry.

The primary difference in these approach shoes is their respective uppers: TX3 uses heavy-duty mesh; the TX4, real leather. The TX3’s mesh drains better, dries faster, and has better longevity with repeated soakings; while the TX4’s leather is more sand-resistant, abrasion-resistant, and foot-conforming. Neither model has a gusseted upper, which is the entry point for sand.

The TX line has expanded with time and popularity, and now includes the TX2, TX2 Evo, TX4 Evo, TX4 R, TX Guide, and TX Canyon. If readers would like to share their experience with these models, leave a comment below.

The TX Guide will fit those who comfortably wear narrower shoes like the La Sportiva Bushido.

La Sportiva Wildcat

The Wildcat has been in La Sportiva’s lineup for more than a decade. Despite its large-holed mesh upper, the Wildcat is very sand-resistant, according to alumnus Randy who wore them for two consecutive years in Escalante. I’m guessing that they have an interior mesh layer that is much more sand-resistant than the exterior one.

I would not recommend the Wildcats if you expect to subject them to extensive abrasion — I’ve seen them get thrashed by one hard week in Alaska’s Brooks Range. But if you’re sticking to sandy trails and open cross-country terrain, they’d be an option.


Scarpa Ribbell Run XT

Eric Volk is the only person I know who has used these. His report:

Personal favorite but might only recommend for someone concerned about foot pain that also wants superbly-safe stiffness for scrambling. A/B tested them on long off-trail hike with Bushido’s at a resupply. Mild foot pain disappeared immediately upon switching. Most comfortable trail runner I’ve worn.

Mesh surprisingly blocked fine sand in the Grand Canyon. The tongue isn’t gusseted yet the excessive inner padding seems to seal against most sands.

Grippy-ness at least on par to Bushidos. The tread, while grippy, is not unique in durability compared to other canyon shoes.

I initially tested by literally kicking cacti and dragging them across limestone throughout the San Juan river. The 360-deg rand is bomb-proof. Invaluable vs. prior hours of removing painful cacti spines when wearing other shoes. Durability perhaps overkill for Escalante.

No apparent drainage but didn’t have drying issues in sun after wading. Remarkable stability despite ‘high’ stack.

Scarpa Ribelle Run XT, used and new. The used pair have seen “hundreds of burley off-trail miles of voracious Grand Canyon limestone. Hardly a scratch — only some mesh worn through via pinky toe abrasion.”

Salomon Speedcross

The Speedcross has a very sand-resistant upper and reasonably sticky lugs; and many people like its fit. For backpacking trips without extensive scrambling, it’s a good choice. However, its lug shape and pattern are not optimized for uneven or steep slickrock: it’s missing lugs around its perimeter, and the lugs tend to bend under pressure.

Salomon Speedcross

Topo Ultraventure Pro and other Topo models

The Pro has been discontinued, but select sizes were still available on clearance when this post was first published in March 2024. If you like other Topo models, scoop this one up because it’s a good choice for desert backpacking. Breathable, sand-resistant, durable, sticky, sufficiently stiff. It’ was more on par with the Mutant than other models in this list like the Lone Peak and Speedcross. It’s probably most akin to the Wildcat and Ultra Raptor; it is not as capable as the Mutant.

Topo Terraventure 3 and MTN Racer 2

The current iterations of these models will NOT work in the desert, as I explain later. But earlier versions did.

  • Carla: “I used the Topo Terraventure 3s with Dirty Girl gators in Utah last year and was completely happy with their performance.  Little to no sand came in through the mesh, performed great in wet/dry conditions, and seemed to dry very quickly.  No complaints on grip or anything like that, found them very comfortable.”
  • John: “Terraventure 3’s worked great for me in Escalante.”
  • Paul: “In 2021 I used the Topo MTN Racers. Paired with gaiters I got almost no sand in my shoes. Traction was great. Only limitation was they are flexible shoes so you can’t edge with them. They were a bit hot, too.”

NOT recommended for backpacking in the desert

In the process of finding shoes that perform well in the desert, we have found many that don’t. The aspect in which they most often fail is their sand-resistance — most users aren’t concerned about it, so most manufacturers don’t design for it.

Especially for trips in sandy environments, I would advise against the models below.

  • Altras besides the Lone Peaks, due to lacking sand-resistance, soft midsoles, and high stack heights. Per Reuben, this includes the Superior 6, which appears to have more promise.
  • Brooks Cascadia, which also has a soft midsole and high stack height, and which historically has not been sand-resistant
  • Hokas, for identical reasons as the Altras, though I’d want to field-test the most recent Challenger
  • La Sportiva Bushido, which is my favorite shoe for any other location but which is not sand-resistant
  • La Sportiva Ultra Raptor, which fail the flashlight test
  • Salomon XA Pro 3D, the least sand-resistant shoe on this entire page
  • Saucony Peregrine, except for the Arroyo color, per Landon
  • Any model that fails the flashlight test
  • Any model with marshmallow-like midsoles

Topo models NOT recommended

From Brandon, one of our guides:

  • The Ultraventure 3 has morphed into a high-cushion, low-technicality shoe that’s best for smooth trails and gravel. Its upper is very porous.
  • The Terraventure 4 and MTN Racer 3 perform so-so in the “flashlight test” and worse than earlier iterations like the Terraventure 3 and MTN Racer 2. They may be worth consideration if they are perfect in every other regard and if you can’t find a more sand-resistant option.
  • The Pursuit and Traverse have the same mesh upper as in the Terraventrue 4 and MTN Racer 3.
Topo Terraventure, a so-so pick

Salewa models NOT recommended

From Eric, a multi-time alumnus who has traversed the Grand Canyon and Brooks Range:

  • Salewa Wildfire 2: Mesh isn’t super porous but lets in enough sand to be annoying. Sufficiently stiff for up to light technical canyoneering. Lacing system is not durable – broke small cords multiple times in Escalante. Wouldn’t recommend.
  • Salewa Wildfire Edge: Similar durability issues with lacing attachments, to lesser extent. Unsurprisingly slow-drying/draining suede leather. Wouldn’t recommend unless it’s a glass-slipper fit for an odd case.

Scarpa models NOT recommended

More from Eric:

  • Scarpa Rapids: Comfortable fit but not stiff enough for harder scrambling. Mesh is deceptively porous. Billed as hybrid approach shoe but imo not appropriate.
  • Scarpa Ribelle Runs: Similar to Rapids i.e. poor stiffness. Sufficient mesh. Moderately cheaper alternate to Mutants. 2nd-hand knowledge; haven’t tried personally.

Questions, corrections, updates, or additions?

Leave a comment below, particularly if you:

  • Disagree with my assessment
  • Have field experience with an updated model
  • Think that I missed a shoe worth consideration


Disclosure. I strive to offer field-tested and trustworthy information, insights, and advice. I have no financial affiliations with or interests in any brands or products, and I do not publish sponsored content

This website is supported by affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors like Amazon or REI, at no cost to the reader. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Posted in , on March 21, 2024


  1. Jim R on March 21, 2024 at 8:39 pm

    I’ve been wearing the Wildcats and Raptors (more Wildcats) for several years. Not much in Utah except Zion, but up and down Whitney and some mtns in CO. But a lot of hiking and backpacking in the northeast, where I live. Not too much sand, but they hold up well, work well when going through water, and you can’t beat their grip on slab.

  2. Landon Sawaya on March 21, 2024 at 8:54 pm

    I agree that the upper material of the new Topo shoes is so-so in sand resistance, and durability as well. Their outsoles are excellent, however, and I love the fit.

    Interestingly, the Peregrine 13 comes with very porous mesh, except for the (imo beautiful) “Arroyo” color, which has a fabric impenetrable to the finest dust! It’s stack is not actually super high, and the outsole is decent but not the stickiest. I would use it more if I preferred the fit.

    I’d be curious to hear people’s thoughts on the Akasha, which is promising by many metrics but has sand resistance yet untested to me.

  3. Heidi Edmonson on March 21, 2024 at 9:40 pm

    My 2023 Ultra Raptors did not pass the “flashlight test”, which is why I ordered up the Mutants.

    I’ve read a few places that laces on the Mutants are weak and should be swapped out. The pic above has the original laces. Do you find a need to swap out laces on your Mutants?

    • Andrew Skurka on March 22, 2024 at 11:13 am

      Thanks for that observation about the Ultra Raptor.

      My Mutant laces are fine after one season. Maybe La Sportiva addressed the issue because I think this was known.

      • Michael on March 22, 2024 at 6:03 pm

        The 1st generation mutant is notorious for poor laces, the ones Andrew has are the second generation.

  4. Dave B on March 21, 2024 at 10:16 pm

    Can confirm the Bushidos quickly fill up with sand. Took them on segment 7 and 8 of the Hayduke.

  5. Thomas on March 22, 2024 at 3:12 am

    As someone who wears size 14, in “wide” to boot, I don’t have many options. Certainly some of the shoes recommended here will not work for me and people like me because of length and width, and especially the combination of the two.

    The last pair of Altras I will ever wear (Altra Lone Peak 6) lasted not even from Kanab across the Vermilion plateau to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon when I did the Hayduke (And there are still quite a few miles to go at that point). The flashlight itself, let alone its light, would have fit through the holes appearing at the base of the big toe where the shoe flexes. This ended up being a “ > $5/day of use” purchase. Never again! And I or, more precisely, my feet love them!

    I used the Brooks Cascadia 16 in the Sinai peninsula (Egypt) for seven weeks last Fall and I was happy with them. The terrain is brutal, either sandy or rocky. They were rock solid while scrambling on both steep granite and steep sandstone. Moreover, they lasted for over 400 miles, which in that location is critical (there is no resupply). I did not find the sand incursion too bad (I wore Dirty Girls). I would say, though, that Utah sand seems to have a particularly small grain size. It gets to and into the most unmentionable places in very short order.

    I have had good experience with Topos, but availability was a problem more often than not when I needed a new pair. I am saddened to see that yet another shoe was apparently ruined by the next product mismanager. I guess nobody gets paid or promoted to leave a good thing alone.

    • Stonepitts on March 22, 2024 at 10:49 am

      Thomas, just curious–which model/version of Altras did you have a problem with?

    • Andrew Skurka on March 22, 2024 at 11:08 am

      You are correct about the Utah sand being exceptionally fine. It’s blow sand, very small. It’s different than most beach sand and any sand with metamorphic or igneous origin (which are more erosion-resistant).

    • John on March 29, 2024 at 6:40 am

      I also need wide shoes and it’s frustrating to find much in anything in EE or wider. Sometimes a regular width works. I’m assuming this is the case with the Cascadia, by getting a larger size. I found the Ghost on sale in wide but I think it’s more of a running vs hiking alternative. Looks like we’re destined to wear Merrell or Oboz or deal with Altras quality issues. On that I wonder with all the negative comments on the Lone Peak 7, why they didn’t improve the 8’s.

      • Thomas on March 31, 2024 at 6:53 pm

        The Cascadia 16 & 17 come in “Wide” for one of the colors in my size. Since I am not a fashionista that works for me. I buy from Brooks directly (they have not been on the menu at REI), but even with them there appears to be thin stock (unless messages such as “5 left in stock” are a marketing gimmick).

  6. Yury on March 22, 2024 at 6:32 am

    Do you have similar recommendations for trails with a lot of mud?

    • Andrew Skurka on March 22, 2024 at 11:05 am

      Best recommendation: Don’t live in the northeast?

      But seriously, I don’t hike in enough mud to offer good recommendations.

      • Yury on March 22, 2024 at 12:02 pm

        Thank you Andrew,
        As for your advice “Don’t live in the northeast”, I already tried and failed to move to California or BC. 🙁
        I will try one more time. 😉

  7. Reuben "Lunar" Stugart on March 22, 2024 at 6:40 am

    Superiors are not good for the desert. I started New Mexico with them. Midsole is not thick enough for backpacking and even with the rock plate in, I had a thorn go into my heal. I disagree about the Olympus though, although a high stack, the stability and traction are great.

    • Brian W on March 22, 2024 at 4:34 pm

      I hiked in the Olympus for a couple of years, but the build quality dropped to the point that I tried HOKAs. If the build quality hadn’t fallen off a cliff, I’d still be hiking in them.

  8. Mark Woods on March 22, 2024 at 11:52 am

    Really appreciate this. Did Canyon de Chelly Ultra last year in my go-to shoe: Hoka Speedgoat. Normally love them, for both running and backpacking, but that is a very sandy course and my shoes kept filling up. Wondering what you’d recommend for something like that (a long run in sandy conditions). I’ve had a pair of Raptors and like them, but they seem too burly for this. Maybe you’d still say the Mutants? Or would Akashas tilt more toward running and still have sand-resistance? Thanks!

  9. Scott Gallaher on March 22, 2024 at 1:02 pm

    Great review and thanks for the framework for response. I really liked how my Arc’teryx Konseal FL 2 shoes performed on my 5-day trip in Utah in 2022. The shoes are designed to be approach/hiker shoes; they favored my very narrow feet and narrow heels for fit; they at least rivalled the flashlight test vs La Sportiva TX3’s on the medial side of shoes and bested the TX3’s on the lateral side; the tongue is gusseted and connected evenly upward vs the TX3s that are fully gusseted on one side but not the other; the Konseals were very breathable and nimble; they have durable “mega-grip” vibram soles. One more thing: I live in the desert and that’s all I have to hike in anytime I do anything outdoors. I generally have a rotation strategy for my hiking shoes due to overused rutted, rocky trails. For fit I would say in between the La Sportiva TX 3/4’s and the TX Guide. I do wish the Konseals offered a smidge more purchase for lateral stability on uneven terrain (like, for instance crossing streams with super rocky stream bottoms…).

  10. Pete Ware on March 22, 2024 at 1:41 pm

    To piggyback on Brandon’s comment re the Topo UV3, I have a pair UV2s that I picked up on clearance last fall and my headlamp, including the red light, shines brightly through the toe box mesh. So probably not a great choice under the sand resistance criteria.

    • Amos on April 8, 2024 at 1:50 pm

      I have hiked in UV2s for a few years (and still have 3 unused pairs so likely will for at least another year) and though they don’t do well on the flashlight test I’ve had fine experiences desert hiking with them.

      Imo they pass the “pour” test when hiking in dry desert environment in that I’m not pouring tons of sand out of my shoes every break. A large step above Hoka speedgoats in that regard.

  11. Brian W on March 22, 2024 at 3:19 pm

    I’ve been hiking around Phoenix since 2002, and I’ve experimented a lot.

    My first transition from boots to trail runners was the Wildcats. But that was back in the early 2010s, and I don’t think their build is as good today.

    I made the mistake of trying out Innov8. Not durable enough or cushioned enough for desert hiking. Only trail runner, where I got blisters.

    I tried out Altra Lone Peaks, but I found they didn’t have enough cushion. I went up to their more cushioned model. And it was okay. But the recent version isn’t made as well.

    I moved to HOKAs. The cushion was there, but both the durability and breathability wasn’t great. My feet would sweat, and the desert environment tore up the cushion.

    I’m now in TOPOs. They’re more durable and breathe better than my HOKAs, but it’s too early for me to call on them. The cushion is better than the Altra’s, but it’s not as good as the
    HOKAs. I’ve only been wearing them since January, so it’s too soon to call. I’m in the 2s rights now as I was able to pick them up for $100 over the holidays.

    I also have an unopened box of Brooks Caldera’s I also picked up on sale to try out later.

    I’ll give any shoe a try. It’s sad though when you find a good shoe and the build quality goes downhill.

  12. Lara on March 22, 2024 at 3:44 pm

    Can confirm the Hokas let all the sand in (three days with lots of river wading let all the silt in my shoes but not out, so I had to empty a painful block of sand from under my toes throughout the trip) and it might not look like it, but sandstone is very abrasive and unsurprisingly ripped the mesh too easily for my liking throughout my weeks in the desert. Love them in general, but might give the Mutants a go.

  13. Scott Schrum on March 22, 2024 at 3:54 pm

    The LaSportiva TX Guide lets no light through. They are a good mix of stiffer approach shoe while still reasonably comfortable for 10-15 days. Unlike LaSportiva trail runners, the TX Guide uses a grippy but still durable Vibram sole, instead of LaSportiva’s proprietary Frixion compound.

    I also like LaSportiva’s Akyra—robust, good grip, decent sand resistance. Sadly, they are no longer sold in the U.S.

    • Scott Schrum on March 22, 2024 at 3:56 pm

      Sorry—I meant “10- to 15-mile days”.

  14. Buzz Burrell on March 22, 2024 at 9:47 pm

    For hiking on rough terrain I’ve been using the Mutant since the day it came out – highly recommended. Too clunky to run in, but that’s an entirely different use.
    Glad you mentioned Topo as their design philosophy is great. However, I can’t figure out their rapidly changing models nor can try them on, so have sadly given up.
    You didn’t mention fit, which of course, is actually the most important factor. Altra and Topo are renowned for their wide toe box, and the Mutant fits wide feet well, while OTOH the entire TX series is distinctly narrow in front, which few people will appreciate on a long trip. The LS Kaptiva essentially was a lightweight Mutant, so became my go-to for high end scrambling, but no one understood it so it’s being discontinued. The LS Cyklon was designed by Jonathan Wyatt, 6-time world mountain running champion, and has taken over the La Sportiva stable of technical mountain running shoes. It has a built-in sock cuff which is great for snow or sand. A bit much for the desert but kills it in the mountains. It also has a Boa lace system, which is … well, people love that or despise it!

  15. Liam H on March 23, 2024 at 1:07 am

    Since a opinion was asked for: I don’t think the La Sportiva TX Canyons would be an good boot for most backpacking. They are my current absolute favorite boot for class V and extreme conditions whitewater kayaking, and they’re also excellent for wet hikes, but they’d be a poor choice for activities that are predominantly on dry land, eg most backpacking. The closest I’ve come is backpacking with them is doing hike-ins up to a few miles long and they work okay for that, although if I can spare the weight and space I bring a second pair of shoes to do the hike in with (partly because my TX Canyons are sized to go over a drysuit sock). Considering that my skin out mass for a day of kayaking starts at around 80 pounds, the fact that I’m willing to carry a second pair of shoes on a multi-mile hike just to avoid hiking in the TX Canyons says quite a bit I think

    • Nico Volland on March 23, 2024 at 7:16 am

      Agree. The TX Canyon are awesome shoes, but may be best suited for Class C canyons and long river hikes (e.g. Zion Narrows, Sulphur Creek). I love mine–very well built and robust, excellent grip in water and on rock, and comfortable even after many hours of hiking in water. Minimal sand intake (even fine Utah sand) and drying out reasonably fast. But they’re probably too heavy for long desert hikes. Oh, and they’re quite difficult to get in the U.S. Outstanding niche boot, I think, but not a generalist.

    • Andrew Skurka on March 23, 2024 at 3:24 pm

      Good feedback about these, I’ve been wondering. Thanks for sharing. Niche indeed!

  16. Phil on April 15, 2024 at 5:23 pm

    I had quite good luck wearing a Hoka Anacapa (non GTX) living in the desert. However, I cannot attest to it dealing with frequent river conditions and water crossings where sand could indeed be a real issue. Something like the La Sportiva TX Canyon is the other end of the spectrum here.

    Hoka also just released the Hopara, which is a tough looking open shoe designed for dirt, mud, rocks and water crossing. I’m curious how it does with sand.

  17. Joe on May 5, 2024 at 3:06 pm

    Does anyone have experience with the La Sportiva Jackal II boa?

    It’s for roughly a 70 mile race with a 40lbs pack, through the desert and mountains of southern Arizona. I know getting dust and sand in shoes has been an issue for people in the past.

    Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

  18. Andy on May 21, 2024 at 9:42 am

    Just here to put a vote in for the Mutant. I hiked/backpacked about half of last season in the Bushido 2, then randomly decided to try the Mutant and couldn’t be happier.

    The fit is very similar in the heel, a tiny bit more room over the instep, and with noticeably more room in the toes. I size it the same as the Bushido and have a normal width foot but with a high-ish instep.

    I can confirm it seals against dust/sand FAR better than Bushido while somehow still breathing better. It has more cushioning and rock protection despite the lack of a rock plate. It feels roughly the same for grip (both are excellent) but the midsole seems slightly stiffer so it scrambles better in my opinion. I have no issues with class 4 and low 5th class rock. The Bushido is excellent for scrambling too. The main issue with that shoe is dust/sand incursion while somehow still feeling quite warm.

    For reference, I live on the Colorado western slope, so most hiking is a mix of desert-like to alpine but we get into Utah 2-3 times per year. Most of our pack trips are lightweight weekenders but with a lot of vert, class 2 trail, and usually an off-trail summit scramble worked in there. The Mutant does great with all of it and is also my go-to on hour long road-to-trail runs around town.

    Glad I found this shoe!

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