Good "Minimalist" (More "reduced" than "minimalist")…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $75
Good "Minimalist" (More "reduced" than "minimalist") trail shoe/boot.
- Traction isn't amazing on rock
- Clammy, don't breathe very well
I got these only a couple months ago, so I'm not sure how they perform in the summer conditions. Ground feel could be much better to be considered a "minimalist boot", they are more like a reduced boot. The ground feel is better than your average hiking boot, but nowhere near close to the ground feel of my New Balance MT110's, and they have a rock plate in the forefoot.
The "breathable" waterproof membrane that Merrell uses could benefit from a little more breathability. They are waterproof, and have kept water out on recent muddy/shoeshoeing hikes very well, but being waterproof is only beneficial until your feet sweat so much that your socks are soaked anyway. I wear Smartwool hiking socks, so it's not like I'm wearing cotton socks that hold moisture.
These boots could also benefit from some more sticky rubber on the sole. In the alpine zones I noticed that they just didn't grab the bare rock as well as I would expect. They could definitely benefit from some Vibram rubber, and I'd pay the extra.
If Merrell made this shoe/boot in a Gore-tex membrane and Vibram sole, I would spend the extra $40-50 for those features because this is pretty close to the perfect minimalist boot I was looking for otherwise.