I just returned from Zion NP where I was able to try out the new hiking shoes I just bought: La Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX. I needed to replace my old pair of Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid height boots that are falling apart. I wear those for light hiking and off-roading. Having read some great reviews of the La Sportiva Synthesis, I decided to try them. At $180, they're not cheap. I bought them from REI, so I'd have an easy-peasy return if needed.
So far, these are great.
I wore them on some short hikes in snow, slush, and on sandstone slickrock. Even trudging through short (1 foot deep) snow drifts, my feet never got wet. The thin plasticy uppers have little thermal insulation and my feet got a little cold on a few hikes - but to be fair, it was 30F then. When it warmed up to over 40F, then I was fine. I like the fast laces. These shoes are very comfortable. Enough so that I can wear them all day - I've been wearing them for several days now. The uppers don't provide much support and my ankles were flexing a little more than I'd like while crossing some very irregular terrain.
The soles are very grippy, with plenty of traction. That's something I always need since I like to hike on steep slopes. The Vibram soles have something called an "Impact Brake System" which the La Sportiva web site describes as: "A proprietary technology in outsole design where the lugs of the soles are oriented in opposing slanted directions. This opposition increases braking power by an average of 20% and decreases impact forces by and average of 20%." The card that came with the boots says it increases traction by 20%.
Whatever it is, it seems to help. I tested them on some very steep slickrock; the southern slope of South Ariel Peak. I was amazed at the grip. I simply walked right up the slope. I've owned very few shoes that can do that without slipping. Here's a photo looking back down toward the road and my car.
I think these will be perfect for my light hikes in the desert.