A low-cut shoe that supplies superb stability and excellent performance out on the trails, even when you’re carrying a load.
Lace cover keeps debris out
Laces come untied easily
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Salewa Dropline GTX: first impressions
The Salewa Dropline GTXs may just be the best of all worlds. Thru hikers are notorious for choosing hiking shoes instead of boots because they’re lighter, cooler and quicker to dry. But many hiking shoes are made too stiff to provide stability or they’re sneaker soft, and their midsoles break down before you’ve racked up the miles (for more on this, see Trail walking shoes versus hiking boots). The Dropline, however – a winner in advnture.com’s inaugural Hiking Awards thanks to its exceptional performance on test as well as one of our Best hiking shoes choices – has plenty of stability, but it feels more like a sneaker on steroids than a hiking boot. Just cut shorter.
The Gore-Tex lining provides breathable waterproofing, but the Dropline is also available in a non-waterproof version. The rounded, low-profile Pomoca outsole has a lot of lugs, but they’re not deep, and can get clogged in muddy conditions. The mesh covering over the tongue and under the laces keeps grit out, and the toe rand clearly means business.
• RRP: $160 (US) / £160 (UK)
• Materials: Exa Shell Over Injected 3D Cage upper with Stretchable Air Mesh and Tpu film; Gore-Tex waterproof lining; Ortholite footbed; EVA midsole; Pomoca Dropline outsole
• Weight (per shoe): 294 g / 10.4 oz
• Colors: Men’s Black / Blue & Dark Denim / Green, Black & Blue Danube Women’s Ocena / Canal Blue / Ombre Blue & Virtual Pink
• Compatibility: Backpacking, thru hiking, fast packing, general walking
On the trails
As someone prone to twisting my ankles, I don’t often feel like I can opt for a low hiker when I carry a pack. But the Dropline had the stability and support that ankle turning wasn’t an issue on a multiday backpacking trip on Vermont’s rocky and rooty Long Trail (opens in new tab). The shoe struck an excellent balance between light and nimble and protective.
It also put a spring in my step. As I strode down the trail, the Dropline rolled me into my next step, but always with excellent side-to-side stability. An anti-rock heel cup and lacing that ties into the heel and the sole of the shoe is Salewa’s secret recipe. Salewa say that the heel-to-toe transition saves energy, and after four days on the trail I think they might be right.
On a wet trail, the Gore-Tex ‘Extended Comfort’ lining kept puddles out while also letting sweat escape. But when I got caught in a rainstorm and I was wearing shorts, they filled with water but dried fast.
The Salewa low-profile Pomoca outsole provides good traction in all types of terrain, though in very muddy conditions they did get gummed up. Dirt and debris never got inside, however, thanks to a mesh covering over the tongue and under the laces.
An extra beefy toe rand shows that Salewa expects this hiking shoe to be used hard, and mine was. The Dropline quickly became my go-to hiking shoe whether I was heading out for an overnight, bushwhacking up Vermont’s highest Peak or fastpacking (see: What is fastpacking: how to get more adventure in less time). And after a summer of use, they still have plenty of life.
Vermont-based writer, photographer and adventurer, Berne reports on hiking, biking, skiing, overlanding, travel, climbing and kayaking for category-leading publications in the U.S., Europe and beyond. In the field, she’s been asked to deliver a herd of llamas to a Bolivian mountaintop corral, had first fat-biking descents in Alaska, helped establish East Greenland’s first sport climbing and biked the length of Jordan. She’s worked to help brands clean up their materials and manufacturing, and has had guns pulled on her in at least three continents.