Saturday, July 23, 2016

Merrell Not Your Father’s Hiking Boots

Back in April 2014 I wrote an article about hiking boots that included a little history of hiking and mountaineering shoes and boots.  This review of the new Merrell outdoor shoes will encompass some of my same thoughts. 

Here is a little footwear trivia. Did you know that footwear has been around for thousands of years? According to Ask.com, “A complete shoe was discovered at the Areni-1 Cave in Armenia, and reported in 2010. It was a moccasin-type shoe, lacking a vamp or sole, and it has been dated to ~5500 years BP.”  And foot prints that show that the feet were covered are even older by a few more thousands of years.  In addition, Sandra Fikes, in her article “A brief History of Trail Hiking Shoes” on March 26, 2008 reports that the 1991 buying guide for Backpacker Magazine listed 24 manufacturers of lightweight hiking boots and shoes with over 250 styles available.  A short twenty-five years later, can you imagine how big the selection of outdoor recreation footwear must be today?  The number must be mind boggling.  Walking the footwear isles of Sports Authority, Cabelas, Dicks Sporting Goods, Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shop, REI, Eastern Mountain Sports shoppers will have a broad selection of outdoor recreation footwear for all the activities these shoppers can imagine.  

So where have we come in the chronology of outdoor footwear design?  A few of more important milestones are the 1906 U.S. Rubber Keds shoes and the 1965 Timberland introduction of water proof injection molding.  Also in 1937, according to Vibram, “Vitale Bramani, Academic of the Italian Alpine Club, returned from a tragic alpine climb and had the brilliant  idea of developing rubber biking boot soles. These would be produced using the same technique used by Pirelli for the production of tires. As a result the first vulcanized rubber sole and the famous Carrarmato” design was born. This design went on to start a legacy of rubber sole designs changing footwear design forever.” Merrell has been a major player and influencer in the outdoor footwear industry since Randy Merrell and all-American Olympian Clark Matis and John Schweizer designed their first pair of hiking boots back in 1981.

I really like the quote from Merrell, “From our very first custom made hiking boots to our latest product innovations, we make all of our products with four core values in mind: Comfort, Durability, Design, and Versatility. It’s all about removing the barriers to enjoying the great outdoors.”  We know how important this is because outdoor sports shoes and boots for walking, running and climbing have evolved since the 1980s. Selecting the right footwear has become very important because picking the right shoe or boot for the type of outdoor recreation adventure you are planning can make or break your trip experience.  Merrell is one brand that has created outdoor shoe collections that cover almost all outdoor environments and terrains.

To the best of my recollection, I purchased my first pair of hiking boots during the early 1970s at Bill Jackson's in Pinellas Park, Florida.  These boots and the many other hiking and climbing boots I would purchase in the future took me to the mountain and low-Land trails in Colorado, Alaska, Washington State, California, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Maine.  I have covered my share trail miles over these past thirty plus years.  These days my outdoor adventures have taken on a more relaxed style.  Having climbed mountains like Flattop Mountain in Alaska,  Mount Holy Cross in Colorado or Thunderhead and Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains along with parts of the Appalachian Trail, leisurely walks or bike riding along many of Florida’s Rails to Trails routes suit me just fine. After logging hundreds of miles on the trail, I now have many outdoor footwear choices depending on what kind of terrain I am attempting to challenge. 
Merrell has the right show for me from leisure to rough terrain with steep inclines.  

This season, Merrell has a new sport shoe called the ‘Capra Bolt Mid Waterproof”.  Here are the Merrell shoe specifications. 

       Synthetic and mesh upper
       Metal hook and lacing closure for secure lacing
       Bellows tongue keeps debris out
       Breathable mesh lining
       Merrell M Select™ FIT.ECO blended EVA contoured foot bed with organic odor control
       Molded nylon arch shank
       Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability 
       TrailProtect™ pad offers additional protection off road
       4mm lug depth
       Weight: 1lb 15oz

This all-terrain shoe does not come in half sizes past size 10.5 and does not come in a wide width.  So it is important to try them on in a store before purchase. I wear a size 12 but the size 12 in this shoe was tight at the front of the shoe where my toes touched the nose. So I went up a size to 13.  When laced tight, the “Capra Bolt Mid Waterproof” hugs my foot giving me plenty of room in the toe area when walking down steep slopes so my toes will not bang against nose of the shoe.  That is really important because when you are doing a multiday hike on trails with steep inclines, your big toe when hitting the nose of the shoe or boot, can give you tender or black toenails and trauma to the point where you might lose your toenail.   So chose your long distance hiking shoes and boots wisely with plenty of toe room.  Merrell has the right shoe or boot for you.

In early August, I will be trekking to the hills of Western North Carolina where I will be giving my new pair of Capra Bolts a good work out.  I would like to thank Merrell for providing me with my new pair of Capra Bolts.  I plan to give a Capra Bolt update when I return.

With trail running all the rage right now, take a look at all the different styles of trail running shoes Merrell is offering this season.  Click HERE to learn more about the Merrell All Out Collection of men’s and Women’s Trail Runner shoes.

So if you are in the market for a new pair of outdoor recreation shoes, boots and sandals find a Merrell retailer near you and try out a pair.  

Until next time, be safe in the sun and have a great day in the great outdoors.






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