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We review Columbia's Conspiracy IV shoes to see if their 'waterproof, multi-sport' billing is justified, and if this makes them the perfect trail shoe for the general outdoor user.

columbia s16 1661671 011 f
Overall Score
Low weight, good waterproofing, well-cushioned
Waterproofing means they can run a little warm

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There are many situations for which a full walking boot may prove overkill, and into that gap steps the Columbia Conspiracy IV Outdry hiking shoe. It's a lightweight (the women's version averages 261g) and nimble trail shoe, which makes bold claims about its levels of comfort, and also comes with full waterproofing.

That last point may seem redundant on low-cut footwear (as surely water can just enter at the same point as your foot?), but unless you fully immerse yourself ankle-deep in puddles you may be surprised at how effective it can be. In this case it's achieved via the brand's Outdry technology, which marries a resilient waterproof membrane with an inner wicking material to create an effective breathable yet impermeable barrier.

The design works well, though it will obviously run warmer than a trail shoe without waterproofing and users will have to decide whether it's an important feature for them personally or not. Luckily there is the choice, and at £70 the non-waterproofed 'trail shoe' version costs £10 less.

The comfort levels are impressive straight out the box, which is achieved not just through the floaty light weight of the shoe in general but through the impressively designed midsole (dubbed Techlite) which provides smooth and responsive cushioning. Columbia claims that this maximises 'energy return', and it certainly gives a springy and agile sensation in use.

They aren't the most protective of shoes, as the mesh upper will provide little relief from the intrusion of rocks and rougher terrain - but they do come with a sturdy synthetic toecap, which does offer some protection.

The soles provide impressive levels of grip and come with a well-sized climbing zone at the toe, something that scramblers and trekkers of more technical routes will appreciate.

In conclusion: the comfort and light weight of the shoe are extremely impressive, as is its performance on trails and all but the roughest of terrain. An excellent multi-sport option.

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