Merrell Walking Gear
Merrell are probably one of the most overlooked outdoor brands in the UK, which is a shame when their footwear has an unrivalled reputation for the comfort, quality and style.
Founded in 1981, Merrell are an American outdoor shoe specialist whose unique style of footwear has often been imitated, but the sheer comfort and fit has never really been replicated.
Here at Walking.org we are huge fans of Merrell shoes and we believe that if you ever stopped someone wearing Merrells in the street, they would tell you that having experience these shoes for themselves they would choose to never wear anything else.
We’re still not entirely sure exactly how Merrell make their shoes so comfortable to wear when other brands have developed the same technical features. But whether it’s the lining they use, the insoles or the Ortholite foot beds, there really is nothing quite like them.
However, when it comes to hardcore hiking boots for hill walking in Scotland, this is when people will turn to more specialist outdoors brands. Although Merrells are incredibly well made, they are more of an active lifestyle brand than a manufacturer of footwear to march up mountains in. So we often recommend them for casual walkers seeking good quality with a little bit extra to spend on their shoes.
Over the years Merrell has expanded its footwear range to incorporate all forms of off-road walking and also offers a small clothing range of equally high quality. So don’t be put off by the fact that we wouldn’t recommend their boots for conquering the Scottish Munros, because for every day and country walking they are remarkably good! Their winter coats are well made and warm as well.
As an ‘active lifestyle’ brand, Merrell’s range of casual footwear is deceptively hard wearing, despite being fashionably styled for everyday use.
The Merrell Sprint Blast has been their best selling casual shoe for many years now. The style hasn’t dated one bit and even though the shoe has a soft suede finish, the pigskin nubuck leather is incredibly tough which makes it ideal for the outdoors.
We can personally testify to this after accidentally leaving a pair at the mercy of a boarder collie that used them as a chew toy. While the suede finish was for the most part taken off and the laces gnawed through, the shoes themselves remained perfectly adequate for walking in, even if they may not look as fashionable as they once did.
Universally, all Merrell boots, shoes, trainers and sandals feature Vibram outsoles. Being the leading outsole manufacturer for outdoor footwear, it’s almost guaranteed that any shoe sporting a Vibram outsole will offer excellent grip on virtually any surface and in any weather.
This makes even Merrell’s casual fashion shoes ideal for casual walking. While you won’t want to get them wet and muddy if you can help it, the outsoles are idea for walking the streets, fields and footpaths. Like many outdoor shoes, the outsole also rises around the sides of the shoe at the heel, mid foot and toe to protect the fabric of the footwear as much as possible.
For those that prefer a more rugged outdoor look or simply seek something a little more hard wearing, Merrell offer a wide range of walking trainers which are just as fashionably styled as their casual shoes.
In this instance it’s the Merrell Intercept and Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slam which have remained the outdoor trainers of choice among Merrell fans for many years, despite the manufacturer attempting to phase them out in favour of new designs.
Essentially the same shoe underneath, the Intercepts are tougher on top with a narrow fit while the Wrap Slams are more breathable with a wider fit for casual wear or simply people with wider feet.
Made from a combination of Merrell’s token suede finished nubuck leather with patches of full grain leather and harder Vibram outsole which rises higher around the heel, toe and mid foot for extra protection. They feel a little harder underfoot than Merrell’s casual shoes, but they become just as comfortable after a few walks.
Eager to ride the wave of the recent barefoot shoes craze, in 20010 Merrell also produced a range of barefoot walking and running trainers using the minimalist sole developed by Vibram for their Vibram Five Fingers.
The minimalist sole is designed to allow the wearer to walk or run as though they were barefooted, providing all the feeling of detail underfoot, but without the pain of stepping on stones and other sharp surfaces.
We’ve touched on barefoot walking a couple of times at Walking.org and there are a wide range of health benefits as a result of ‘going barefoot’. These include reduced impact on joints and better development of the calves and other ‘elastic’ muscles in the legs while improving overall posture.
In the summer we’ve been partial to wearing Vibram Five Fingers as casual sandals and enjoy walking around ‘barefooted’.
During the colder, wetter months, a traditional shoe upper is far more ideal for the weather, making Merrell’s barefoot shoes an ideal replacement. And considering Merrell’s reputation for unrivalled comfort and fit, these could be some of the most comfortable barefoot shoes ever made.
While many of Merrell’s walking boots started out as high collared versions of their best walking trainers with extra heel cushioning and ankle support, Merrell has gone on to develop a number of technical hiking boots.
As you would expect, Merrell’s distinctive designs are evident from a mile away and these boots are every bit as comfortable as their snuggest fashion shoes.
But while many of the boots feature all manner of insoles, foot beds, Vibram outsoles, Gore-Tex XCR gasket constructions and the finest materials, many outdoor enthusiasts still choose other brands instead.
This is because while Merrell walking boots are incredibly comfortable (and we’re confident that you would find a better fitting boot), they’re simply not as tough as other walking boots from brands like Salomon and Meindel. So really, Merrell walking boots are reserved for the casual walker who is seeking great quality and comfort as the primary focus of their footwear.
That’s not to say that Merrell boots aren’t brilliant. They really are worth every penny. But when it comes to purpose, they will be a much better choice for casual walkers than someone who regularly wears through their walking boots in a matter of months.
Merrell Snow Boots
Like many ‘active lifestyle’ brands, Merrell offer a range of snow boots. Most of these are aimed at ladies winter fashion and have Merrell’s own make of sticky rubber outsole, although the grip is surprisingly good on snow and ice.
However, they also make a small number of higher performance snow boots with all the technical features from all round insulation to leading Vibram snow outsoles for extreme cold weather walking, like taking on the Scottish Munros in the dead of winter.
These snow boots have received some excellent reviews, providing not only all the technical performance that real outdoor enthusiasts demand, but also the unrivalled comfort that Merrell has become renowned for. Although, we wouldn’t recommend them for casual walkers when a good pair of walking boots and some thick thermal socks should do the trick.
If there’s a perfect example of Merrell’s position as an outdoor lifestyle brand, it’s their range of summer sandals. Often referred to as walking sandals because of their outsoles, Merrell sandals are exceptionally comfortable and well made, but with all the grip and support of their casual walking shoes.
This has made Merrell sandals increasingly popular each summer and you can easily spot people walking about in the exceedingly comfy Merrell Kahunas as well as the more stylish Merrell Siena for women. Both sandals are made with Merrell’s trademark suede finished nubuck leather with soft, moisture wicking inners and a firm, yet soft footbed while a sole unit borrowed from their casual shoes range provides all the support you need with a versatile outdoor grip.
So if you are thinking of investing in a pair of sandals for everyday wear that you can also go walking in for the summer, we definitely recommend Merrell as the first brand on your list to browse.
To accompany their footwear Merrell also offer a rapidly changing range of clothing from winter coats to fleeces, base layers and shirts. Just like their shoes, every garment is comfortable, well made and with the outdoors in mind while blending Merrell’s unique style with technical features.
Their fleeces and winter jackets are certainly ideal for everyday wear and walking in cold weather. Meanwhile they also offer a range of colourful socks to match their outdoor trainers. And while they’re not the thickest, warmest or most moisture wicking socks available, they’re a stylish addition for anyone who really loves their Merrell shoes.
Compared to all the other outdoor brands, Merrell is unrivalled when it comes to the comfort and fit of their footwear.
When many people discover Merrell footwear they rarely look back to other brands unless they need some serious walking boots for the muddy trails.
We’re confident that once you try a pair of Merrells for yourself, you’ll be hooked and will inevitably end up with a pair of Merrell shoes, sandals, outdoor trainers and maybe even walking boots too!