In elementary school, my best friend Sean had a uniform: those iguana tees that donated a portion of the proceeds to WWF, cargo shorts, and intensehiking boots (those monkey bars during recess were treacherous). Today, I wear hiking boots even when I’m not trekking up the face of a mountain — and I believe that Sean, subconsciously, inspired me. And he’d be excited to learn that he was at least 15 years early to the rising “hikecore” trend. Hiking boots have evolved since our childhood: Based on the needs of the 21st century hiker, some are tricked out with Gore-Tex and other technical features like Thermo tech and Nestfit, while others have morphed into sneaker x hiking boot hybrids.
My first traverse was a digital trek through the internet, where I made it my mission to find the right hiking boots in terms of weight and clunkiness. I’m naturally prone to tripping and slipping in normal shoes, so I was on the hunt for something that was lightweight, yet still protected my feet and provided ankle support. My second traverse: taking my found hiking boots through the streets of NYC, where potholes and construction workers served as my switchbacks and subway stairs as my summit. The test wasn’t simply based on stylishness, but on the ruggedness of the boot. In addition to looking super cool, I also wanted to determine whether I could comfortably wear these boots on a long hike. Enter: The Official Michelle Li Mountaineering Rating System. Five mountains means I would wear them up Mt. Whitney, one mountain means I’ll tie them on for a jaunt to the grocery store.