Summer finally arrived in Northern California. Much of the Sierra snow has melted and it’s time to get outside. Here are three options in light hikers that can get you where you want to go – the Columbia Master of Faster, the La Sportiva CrossLeather and the Vasque Scree Low.

When shopping for light hikers – a fairly well established category – you might expect to find shoes that are hard to differentiate with ‘ol standby designs, leather uppers, moderately lugged soles, etc. This year, that couldn’t be farther from the truth with manufacturers innovating with new tech fabrics and rubber compounds, and bringing some very unique products to market. If these shoes were 4x4s, they’d range from a Mini Countryman All4 to the Range Rover Sport.

Here’s a quick rundown of the three shoes in the test:

Columbia Master of Faster – New to Columbia’s footwear lineup this year, the Master of Faster pulls out all the technology stops. It includes Columbia’s Omni-Tech waterproofing, Techlight cushioning, sonic-welded construction and more. See full review.
La Sportiva CrossLeather – The leather version of La Sportiva’s popular CrossLite. As the name suggests, it replaces the mesh upper with leather increasing the shoe’s ability to take a beating on the trail. The rest of the components along with the lugged sole are lifted right from the sister shoe. See full review.
Vasque Scree Low – The most traditional looking shoe in this test, the Vasque Scree Low combines a rugged leather upper with a Stealth Rubber sole giving it approach-shoe-like grip. This combo makes the Scree Low much more than you’d expect from a light hiker. Nice. See full review.

Hard to go wrong with any of the three shoes in this test. Each delivers a unique combination of light weight, comfort, waterproofing, ruggedness, grip and other features in varying degrees. Picking one will depend on which capabilities you need the most.

Thanks for reading another outdoor gear review from GearGuide. And thanks to Columbia, La Sportiva and Vasque, along with Backbone Media and Darby Communications for providing product for these reviews. Written by Matt K.