I've gone through a few pairs of shoes in my day. Here are some observations...
- The inspiration for the GoLite shoes -- the soft-against-the-ground approach -- was realized in their first generation shoe. But their fit was sloppy (too wide all over), their ability to side-hill was very limited because the center-of-gravity was too high, and their durability was in the toilet. I solved the last problem by lathering Aqua Seal on the toebox and other failure points, and just dealt with the other problems: I'm not sure I could have hiked 6,875 miles on hard-packed, cobblestone-laden trails with any other shoe without severely bruising my forefeet.
- I destroyed a pair of Vasque Aether Tech's in 150 miles back in February while on the Hayduke Trail. The shoe lacks a skeleton -- it's all mesh -- and a small fray near the anchor system for the Boa laces developed into a 3-inch long rip that I had to glue and tape shut (or at least try). The shoe's toebox is also monstrous.
- I put about 350 hard miles on the Solomon Tech Amphibian back in March in the Grand Canyon. They were light, extremely breathable, and dried really quickly after getting wet; and after 350 miles the core parts were no worse for the wear (upper, midsole, sole). However, I had to stitch up the heel cup strap because otherwise the buckle would slip and my heel wouldn't stay locked in the shoe. The laces were starting to fall apart -- they may have had a few more days until rendered completely useless. And, finally, the mesh paneling is just not a sturdy enough platform to keep one's foot over the midsole -- there's some give to the material, so when side-hilling the edges of my feet (particularly around my heel) would slide over the edge of the shoe. Oh yeah, they also don't fair well when brushed up against cactus!
- I'm current sponsored by La Sportiva and have been wearing their shoes for the last year. My favorite shoe for backpacking is the Fireblade: the upper is absurdly durable (I put 500 miles on one pair and not even a seam had blown out), the sole is really grippy, and they're low to the ground and therefore great for side-hilling. They're also very light. The problem with the La Sportiva shoes is that they still use a EVA-based midsole, which over time collapses and doesn't come back, especially if you're doing lots of miles day-after-day. This was not an issue in Alaska because I was off-trail ~75 percent of the time and the ground was generally very soft; but this would become a problem if used mostly in an on-trail environment. I'm trying to convince La Sportiva to make a Fireblade-type shoe with a plastic plate in the midsole but haven't had too much success with that pitch -- yet!