The Capra Sport is Merrell’s latest hiking shoe and is tough and trail-ready.
I tried them out over tracks and steep open country on some day hikes around Canterbury. I particularly liked the chunky Vibram sole that is well cleated and provides excellent grip on steep, slippery tracks. The built-in stiffeners, running along the outside of the shoe, and neatly linked to the lace-up points, are great for tightening up the shoe and providing extra stability over rough travel. There shoes weigh 794g and have a good sturdy toe cap and a generally rigid feel. This last point does create some discomfort, particularly for me, around and under the ankle, as the shoe is quite stiff at this point, with both the stability, built into the heel area, and the aforementioned stiffening strips. Some allowance will be needed to break them in.
A chunky tread and stable platform
On hike up Mt Thomas in the Canterbury foothills one evening I gave the shoes a good workout. The track is pretty steep in many places, approaching 45 degrees, and quite slippery with loose gravel and pine needles present. I had a reasonable day load as well but felt safe and secure in the shoes both up and especially down when I was confident to head down the steep sections ‘toe-down’ to the slope without encountering any traction issues. That chunky tread and stable platform works a treat to keep you on the trail, but remember that stiffness can make them a bit tiring to wear as a day shoe around home and office.
They are also Gore-Tex lined to improve comfort and ventilation, which is a bonus for hot, steep tracks.