Merrell Capra Sport
Capra, where have you been all my life?? The holy grail (for me, anyway) of light hikers.
- Excellent fit
- Super traction
- Good value for the $$
- None so far
I have always had a difficult time finding hiking shoes/boots that fit. I have a number of issues: while my left foot is a solid size 14, my right foot is slightly larger, more like a 14.5; I have large bunions on both feet; severe over-pronator; narrow heel, but wide forefoot and long toes.
Often I will find a shoe which feels great on the left side, but awful on the right.
In my current quest to find a great shoe for ultra-light backpacking, and fast day hiking, I tried dozens of shoes. I've not had great luck with Merrell in the past, so skipped over these for awhile. But the Backpacker gear guide gave it a good review, so I gave them a shot.
Fit: The fit is quite good on both feet. The usual tightness I feel in the forefoot was non-existent here, and the first couple of times I tried them on, I couldn't believe it. The lacing system, while not going all the way to the toe, appears to be flexible enough to tweak should one need it (surprisingly, I didn't).
Comfort: Nice cush where you need it, but not too much where you don't. No pressure points have been felt, so far.
Support: The midsole feels fairly stiff, and I felt like it needed some break-in. I did some neighborhood walks in them for a week before I went on a real hike, and that seemed to do the trick. On a steep eight-mile hike in the Armstrong Redwoods Natural Preserve, I never felt off balance. I will be interested to see how they support with a overnight load, but so far they are promising.
Breathability: I've always been one of those people who usually buy hiking shoes with a WP lining, "just in case." But in general, my feet are always hot, and I rarely find myself hiking in very wet weather. The Capra sport comes in both a Gore-tex and non Gore-tex model. This time I decided to get the non WP version. Ventilation is excellent, and I had no blisters on a very warm steep hike.
Traction: The Vibram Mega-grip outsole is excellent. On a steep descent of the Armstrong Redwoods East Ridge trail, I experience no slippage whatsoever. This combined with the excellent support kept me feeling completely secure, no matter the footing.
Construction and durability: They appear to be well made... no loose stitching, and they feel pretty solid. Will be interesting to see how they hold up over time.
Conclusion: After a long and steep hike (both uphill and down), I would normally be ready to take the shoes OFF. I found these still comfortable at the end of the day, and really could have driven home in them. Very excited to continue using them during the summer hiking season. Possibly the most comfortable hiking shoe I've worn in years!
March 2016 update: Still love these shoes. I wore them on several backpacking trips last summer, and the support is still great, even with a 29-lb load.
The Gore-tex version has popped up on sale in several places, so picked up a pair of those too. Same great fit and support, but with the GT lining for waterproofness.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $104
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Historic Range: $38.99-$130.00
Reviewers Paid: $104.00
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