A multisport shoe that excels when carrying moderate loads on trails, the Vasque Womens Kota XCR Hiking Shoe earned a Best Low-Cut for Backpacking rating in Backpacker magazines 2007 Gear Guide. Why is it so great? The reasons are many, not the least of which is the tremendous support, especially noticeable when the trail gets rough. A molded thermoplastic urethane TPU plate with heel stabilizer located between the Vasque Racer X outsole and compression molded EVA insole creates a semi-rigid platform that keeps the shoe from twisting when the trail fades away to nothing more than an unmaintained boot path. This makes the Kota XCR a little stiffer than some other hiking shoes on the market. But Vasque uses similar technology in their trail running shoes so the feel of the Kota is not a whole lot different than their lighter models. Waterproof nubuck and pig suede leather along with a tough rubber toe bumper cover virtually all of the upper, addressing the usual beating that hiking shoes take in the backcountry. For lack of a better description, the Vasque Kota XCR Hiking Shoes incredible fit feels like its a balloon inflated around your foot. Both the deep heel pocket and Keystone Control instep lacing feel comfortably snug from start to finish.