Best for summer
At a glance
Plusses: Lightweight, free-draining, good grip.
Minuses: Doesn’t accommodate large volume feet, limited seasonal use.
624g (m), 512g (w)
Features: It has a free-draining synthetic, mesh and webbing upper complemented with an EVA insole with numerous holes punched through it and ports in the midsole to provide ventilation and for water to drain out. Fabric lacing hardware is attached to rubber overlays to snugly enclose the foot. A soft rubber toe bumper offers minimal protection.
Fit: The size UK8.5 (Merrell US9) fitted tightly across the width of my foot and left a decent amount of wiggle room at the toe (to the extent the bumper didn’t actually cover my toes). I have a high instep and this shoe felt a tad too tight across the top of my foot. My heel was held firmly in place thanks to the heel-locking rubber overlays.
Comfort: It’s a light shoe designed to shed heat with every step which makes it comfortable for summer hikes. The neoprene lining and mesh upper makes it possible to wear the shoe without socks, though I preferred to keep them on to avoid dusty feet.
In use: At Castle Rock they proved super grippy when scrambling up and over the huge rock surfaces. On a scorching hike to Punchbowl Falls, I submerged my feet in the river to cool down and found the shoes drained quickly, were quick to dry and gripped slick rocks well. The shoes slip on and off easily and the stretch upper creates a tight enough seal around the foot to prevent trail debris from getting inside, though feet inevitably come out covered in dust. The outsole has widely-spaced multi-directional lugs which look as though they have come straight from one of Merrell’s running shoes; indeed I felt myself wanting to move quickly. There’s also a slight rock to the shoe, with the heel angled up, to provide a bit more spring to your stride.
Value: A reasonable price for a hiking shoe, but it offers limited utility as it’s really only suitable for summer trips.
Verdict: A fun shoe for summer trips where you’re moving fast and light over trail and through streams.