Selecting hiking shoes is a very important decision for any hiker. When you’re out on the trail, you’ll be able to tell the difference in comfort, traction, weight, and durability with each step you take.
Benefits of Wearing Hiking Shoes
Wearing shoes has a specific purpose. Footwear’s primary goal is to make people’s lives more comfortable while also protecting their feet from the elements. Walking boots provide the same functions as hiking shoes, namely to cushion and protect the soles of your feet from the bruising and abrasion that can be caused by rugged wilderness terrain.
In addition to providing adequate stability and durability, hiking shoes should be lightweight and comfortable. Having a good pair of hiking shoes means that you’ll be able to keep going for a long time. Supportive shoes are essential for long-distance hiking, and they should also be as light as possible. When walking, they should be able to move freely and comfortably. Shoes may need to be stiffer and more supportive on rough surfaces, however.
#1. Salomon X Ultra 4 Low GTX
The Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX hiking shoes strike an ideal weight-to-durability ratio. They feel far lighter and more nimble than other shoes of similar construction, and the fit is comparable to that of a trail runner. Additionally, like trail runners, they take little breaking-in and are pleasant to hike right out of the box. The X Ultras’ traction is far better than typical, making them ideal for hiking or day walks in difficult terrain. Needless to say, we love the X Ultras and strongly suggest them to hikers looking for a shoe that feels like a trail runner but performs like a more traditional hiking shoe.
#2. Altra Lone Peak 6
Altra’s Lone Peak 6s are the brand’s first significant departure from its standard design in a long time. The most significant difference is the smaller profile (wide sizes are available). This gives the shoe a more streamlined appearance and feel, while retaining the trademark foot-shaped toe box that allows for natural toe spread. The strengthened and well-ventilated uppers make them feel more robust than prior Lone Peak models and should provide a significant increase in mileage over some other shoes in their weight class. We’re in love with the latest Lone Peaks model and highly recommend them to anyone searching for a comfy ultralight hiking shoe.
#3. Merrell Moab 2 Low WP
If you’re searching for an affordable shoe that doesn’t skimp on quality, the Merrell Moab 2 WP Lows are a great option. These shoes – along with the Moab Mids – have been a long-time favorite among hikers due to their comfort, durability, and affordable pricing. Because the Moabs are slightly more substantial than some others, they may not be the greatest choice for long-distance runs. However, they will last a long time and give good cushioning and support for day treks and weekend excursions.
Google mentions in its announcement of Chrome 94 Beta that it is implementing some new web standards to improve browser-based gaming experiences. WebCodecs, which will be released soon, may simplify and accelerate cloud gaming, while the experimental WebGPU may make it easier for developers of browser-based games to leverage your computer’s power.
WebCodecs in Chrome 94?
WebCodecs is an API that enables developers to gain improved access to the video encoding/decoding codecs that come pre-installed with your browser and determine what to do with video streams. While there are already methods for getting video to play in Chrome, they are not necessarily optimized for cloud gaming, which requires the lowest possible latency. WebCodecs is designed to minimize overhead, allowing the incoming video stream to be displayed on your screen as quickly as possible, possibly with the assistance of hardware decoding. This should also improve its performance on slower machines (which are the kinds of computers where cloud gaming is most desirable anyhow).
WebGPU, the newer, more experimental version, grants web developers increased access to your computer’s graphics horsepower by allowing them to connect to your computer’s native graphics API (similar to Apple’s Metal, Microsoft’s DirectX 12, or Vulkan). In simpler terms, it enables web developers to communicate directly with your graphics card, bypassing any unnecessary layers. It is intended to be a successor to WebGL, allowing developers to leverage the (now largely defunct) OpenGL framework. In the future, the technology should simplify the process of developing graphically intensive browser games that take full advantage of current-generation GPUs.
Both technologies have a place in the world outside of gaming as well. Google mentioned Zoom’s interest in using WebCodecs for videoconferencing in a July 2020 talk, and WebGPU could be used to render 3D models in the browser or to accelerate machine learning models. It makes sense that they would appear in Chrome, as Google is involved in all these areas, from cloud gaming via Google Stadia to its own video conferencing apps. Both technologies are open standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium, and other browser makers have begun testing them as well.
Devs Still Have to Integrate WebCodecs in Their Apps
Naturally, we won’t see experiences powered by WebCodecs or WebGPU for a while. While WebCodecs is nearing completion (it is expected to be enabled by default in the upcoming Chrome 94), developers will still need to ensure that their applications work with it. WebGPU is currently in an experimental trial phase that Google anticipates will conclude in early 2022. Whether it becomes a feature at that point is dependent on the outcome of the trial, the quality of the specification, and the level of interest in using it.
While these technologies may not make previously unthinkable things possible, Chrome 94 surely seems exciting. When things become simpler or more adaptable, it lowers the entry barrier for developers. For gamers who want to play on the web, whether via streaming or native games, the time developers save by not having to figure out how to get frames onto your screen is time they can spend improving other aspects of the experience.
Will users like Chrome 94? Only time will tell.