For the days when you want to go fast and light, weight matters. You want to carry the fewest grams of gear without putting yourself in harm’s way. This can mean superlight outerwear, carrying a water filter instead of a massive water bladder, and, of course, lightweight shoes like the Oboz Footwear Cirque Low (15.9 ounce/shoe).
For years, I didn’t take weight savings in my gear seriously. I thought if I just lost five pounds, that would make more difference in my endurance and strength than shaving off any unnecessary weight. Here’s the deal: it’s not an either/or. Gear weight matters, just as the fit of my gear matters. I had this epiphany recently hiking up Green Mountain in Boulder, Colorado, in my new Cirques. This is a short, popular hike that climbs about 2,800 feet. The Cirques offered classic Oboz fit, but the lightness was something new. My feet felt unencumbered and my legs did not get as tired.
I plan to go further and faster in these shoes this summer. Here are some of the trails I’m dreaming about.
1. Four Pass Loop, Aspen, Colorado (pictured above)
Distance: 27.1 miles
Info: This classic route circumnavigates the Maroon Bells, iconic peaks outside of Aspen. As the name suggests, the trail covers four mountain passes (all around 12,500 feet). Backpackers typically cover it in four days; trail runners knock if out in one. I’d like to hike this (quickly) to maximize the minimalism and get a whole body immersion in remote meadows, high lakes, and wildflowers galore.
Distance: 26.6 miles
Info: There’s remote, and then there’s Montana remote. This point-to-point trail in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in the Gallatin National Forest travels from East Rosebud to Cooke City. Experience expansive views of jagged peaks, rolling hills, and thick forests. If you’re lucky, you might see a grizzly bear or wolf.
Distance: 40 miles
Info: There’s no rule saying you have to hike the entirety of this trail that abuts Oregon’s majestic Rogue River, but you might want to build in some time to do just that. Picture a path through massive old growth forest and adjacent to a wild, rumbling river with ideal swimming holes situated relatively evenly along the trail. With established campsites, developed campgrounds, and several trailheads, this is a trail that can be explored in many ways. Going fast and light gives you that much more spring in your step on the adventure.
4. Piute Pass, Bishop, California
Info: The granite peaks of the Sierra have long drawn mountain climbers and hikers seeking the trademark beauty of massive mountains and looming cliffs. This 16.7-mile hike is gateway to Humphrey Basin, a lake-filled valley that remains relatively unchanged since John Muir and others first wandered through it. This hike is easily accomplished in a day.
Distance: 19.5 miles
Info: An upper peninsula island accessed by ferry, Grand Island offers front row seats to the Great Lakes. Hikers will encounter beaches and a lighthouse, cliffs and their views, and a diverse forest filled with critters (including black bears).
(Curious about the Cirque Low? See them up close here and check them out on the website):
Rachel Walker is a writer and editor based in Boulder, Colorado. Follow her on Instagram at @racheljowalker.