User Review: Merrell Wilderness
Use: Medium to Heavy Packing, Light Mountaineering
Break-in Period: none (really!)
Weight: 3+ lbs
Price Paid: $225
You can take my pack, my ice axe, my tent, or my sleeping bag, but DON'T TOUCH MY MERRELLS.
I bought these 8 years ago and use them about 20-30 days per year. They are currently being resoled the second time. These boots conformed to my feet the moment I put them on. I don't know if it's just that my foot matches the pattern, or whether the leather is very adaptable, but there was no break-in.
Other reviewers have spoken of their tendency to delaminate. Yes, they do. But you'll get a lot of use till then, and the Norwegian welt construction makes resoling very easy.
The great thing about these boots is that they feel like running shoes, but can take both step-in and strap-on crampons. Since the uppers are not too rigid (good for comfort) I wouldn't use them for anything requiring extreme stresses, like front-poining with crampons on ice faces. But they're great for lighter uses.
P.S. -- When I had them resoled, I asked the boot maker to replace the Merrell shank with a full length steel shank. If you plan on using them as a mountaineering boot, rather than just for backpacking, I recommend this.