Boots for a big guy?

9:33 p.m. on January 12, 2010 (EST)
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Hello, Ron here. I have been hiking for about 20 years, and it is time for a new pair of boots. I have wide, flat feet which require custom insoles, and I weigh 280 pounds. I have large, size 13 large volume feet. I am planning on a few multi day hikes this summer. I am considering either Merrell Wilderness or Limmer standards, maybe custom if needed. I am lucky enough that I live about 3 hours from Limmer, so I could drive there and be fit, but I am looking for some honest opinions. Have any of you tried both of these boots, and what would your opinions be? I look forward to any input you have. Thanks in advance.

2:03 p.m. on January 13, 2010 (EST)
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i have wide feet, sufficiently flat that i wear custom orthotics all the time. Both boots will work with orthotics. i have hiked a lot in both (Limmer's off-the-shelf, not custom. Customs cost a lot and may have a really long wait list).

i had a pair of Merrell Wilderness boots years ago. It's a good boot, and it was very comfortable to hike in, but it used to be better. The upper is one piece of leather - the only seam is at the backstay, along the heel section, so they are pretty easy to waterproof. Merrell used to make the boot with a full leather lining; now it's lined with fabric, so it won't last as long and won't mold to your foot as well as a full-leather boot. The leather Merrell uses for the upper is a little lighter-weight than the Limmer Standard and tanned differently, and the midsole of the Wilderness was, in my view, significantly less sturdy than the Standard. As a result, the Wilderness is much less stiff and more forgiving out of the box, and the Wilderness is a lighter-weight boot by nearly 3/4 pound per pair. On the other hand, I don't think the Wilderness provided nearly as much support as the Standard does. After six or seven years of heavy use, the boots were beaten up and needed to be replaced. The primary culprit was the way my flat feet deformed the instep side of the boot's upper. also, i occasionally sustained blistering at the heel due to the way the boots fit.

I have been hiking in Merrell Standards for the past four years. They take time to break in, and they are heavier and somewhat expensive than the Merrell. the Standard leather upper is also a single piece of leather, but the only seam is along the instep, not by the heel. Once broken in, I have been tremendously happy with them. It's a sturdier, more supportive boot that fits my foot better than the Merrell. It's too early to say whether the boot is more durable, but it's certainly looking that way. i purchased mine by mail, traced and measured my foot, then had a conversation with the people at Limmer to agree on sizing. They know a lot about fitting boots, so having the opportunity to visit their shop would be helpful, i think.

Most significantly for you, I don't think Merrell makes the Wilderness in wide sizes any more. That's pretty important and worth investigating.

These are both old-school boots, more or less, and they are great. There are more updated designs with molded soles, gore tex, multiple pieces of leather, that may be perfectly comfortable and still solid - Asolo or Scarpa leather hiking boots, for example. i'm just not familiar with them.

best of luck.

4:53 p.m. on January 13, 2010 (EST)
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I bought new Vasque boots on sale at REI and hardly much time needed to break them in. A year later and they are still pretty sturdy. I cannot recall the model but they have a small yellow emblem/marking on the toe. Very comfortable on rough parts of the AT. Good traction on ice.

11:12 a.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. You guys.

You have to pick the REAL Merrell

http://www.merrellfootlab.com/gallery.htm

5:43 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Randy Merrell, Charles Van Gorkum, Limmer all make custom hiking boots. Prices vary a lot, and waitlists may be months, may be years. I can't speak to any from personal experience. My old Merrell Wilderness boots were very, very good, and i like Limmer's boots a lot. Have heard great things about Van Gorkum's boots too. i'm sure that getting a custom fit pair of hiking boots is great. expensive, though.

8:24 a.m. on April 12, 2010 (EDT)
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Thank you all very much for taking the time to give me your advice and opinions. I am going for the Limmers as soon as I save up the cash. I wish you all good, long hikes.

July 31, 2014
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