To say I was excited when Merrell let us know they were providing the UintasHike16 participants a pair of boots would be an understatement. Merrell’s a proven commodity in the outdoors world, though I hadn’t worked with them in the past – our paths crossed, but it just never happened.
Pretty much immediately after we chatted, Merrell’s PR person had boots to each of us lickety-split, so we had time to check them out and break them in as we wanted. I will admit, upon first glance, I was a bit worried – these boots look more basketball court than mountain trail. Were they too flashy? Nah.
I wore them out a few times for short hikes, once day around the house all day, and it seemed like they would work for our backpacking trip. I did have a slight worry in that they fit exactly right with my thinnest hiking socks, so I wasn’t sure how they’d feel with the thicker Cloudline socks we were receiving once we got to SLC. If it’s possible, try these on before buying – I’d probably go up a half size if I could, but at size 13, that’s not an option.
Once on the trail, I was happy as a clam, with no issues to report. I wore them with 4 different socks and, by adjusting the tightness of the laces, they all worked fine for me. No blisters, no toe bang, no problems whatsoever. For all the up and down we did, along with the constant stepping on, around, and over trail rocks, that’s pretty impressive. Even though the days got warm, my feet never felt hot, which is a concern for a lot of people (I will say that I wore them for a day at the ORShow after the hike, and they did feel warm that day, maybe because it was a long day indoors on cement). I wore them the Saturday after ORShow for the hiker chat putting and on the plane home and had no issues then either.
Since they are marketed as waterproof, I made it a point to walk through the water at every stream crossing and then later into a lake during our hikerchat outing. No problems at all – the tongue is attached all the way to the top of the boot, so you’d have to go over ankle-deep to get water inside.
In general, I thought these boots really delivered – super light, comfortable all day, and no issues with my feet after a full weekend’s wear. I can see that people might not like the forward styling, but the performance should make converts of them if given a chance.