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Reviewers Paid: $150.00
This review is for older women only that are light hikers. I just bought Merrell Ridge Gore-Tex II one week ago. Walked a mile around the neighborhood to break them in and just hiked about 5 miles yesterday on a muddy, tree rooted, narrow, steep, worn out shore trail around Acton Lake in Houston Woods in Oxford, Ohio. The trail is pretty much eroded in certain parts that the ranger said they were going to make a new trail up higher because of the danger. On one part, you almost need to jump over because there is no grip unless you have cliff climbing boots on.
Now, I am talking as a woman, 58-years-old who likes to go on somewhat lightly steep trails and forested ones with streams to hike over. My husband and I like the gorge state parks of our area which is southwest Ohio. We have also hiked in the smokies on Alum trail and above Laura Falls. We are not backpackers, only 1/2 day hikers depending on the strain of the trails.
I have a pair of Lowa ultra light ladies nubuck ankle height for the last 7 years. They are still in good shape with leather lining and were my first hiking boots. They are terrific, but I wanted a higher boot and also more waterproof. On Mother's Day, we hiked in the Smokies and my feet got wet in a heavy rain storm coming down the mountain. My boots got damp inside from the rain through the top. They were my only boots. They did dry for my next day hike, but I realized I would need another set of boots in case something ever happened to them. I have always been fussy about shoes and do not like blisters or bunions. I bought the Merrell Gore-Tex Ridge II even though I saw many reviews a few years ago about not buying Gore-Tex in hiking boots. However, I have found the gore-tex is very comfortable on the foot and helps just like the leather linings do against "hot spots" and blisters. Of course my smart sox also aid in that problem. (I do not like liners--tried them). I only wore my hiking sox, not the expedition trekking sox that I use in my Lowa and my foot was just as comfortable. I thought it might be a little warm compared to the leather and the boots were hot the week before on sidwalks but it was 85 degrees with 90% humidity.
Yesterday, it was about 80% and low humidity and cooler around the lake. I stood in running streams up to the tongue to see if there would be any leaks. There was none. My foot stayed dry and warm in the water. I did not submerge the whole foot and ankle into the water, but walked over and stood in the water trying to get the mud out of the soles. The water came over the toes and front foot. I also like the large grooved wide heel for balance. I use my hiking poles also for support and balance. I have arthritis and far from flexible with my joints especially on the first part of the trip. I am much better and stronger on the return. The heel did not slide in the mud. However, only problem is when the heel grooves are stuffed with mud that dries solid. I then think you would lose some grip. I only slipped once on a round log in a stream. The leather got slightly scuffed on one boot in the front because all the above ground roots I hit and fallen trees and logs. But I used regular brown show polish with wax conditioners and it covered the scuffs and shined them up like army boots. The Nubucks do not show the scuffs because the leather is already "scuffed."
I recommend the Merrell. They are also not much heavier than the my Light Lowas. The Merrell are very good all around boot for day hikes and probably light overnight and weekend hikes with a light backback though I probably will never use them for heavy backbacking. I do have a light backpack that I sometimes use for jackets and lunches. Nothing very heavy. This web site puts them as heavy-duty use. I knew they were in between day hikes and light backpacking. They are not heavy in pounds. Womens 6.5 is around 2.8 or 2.9. I think my lady lights in Lowa are around 2.5. Anything under 3. lbs are not heavy. I was worried about that but they are much lighter than older hiking boots I once tried on in the past. I think the newer materials are making the boots lighter. They are also a good price for what you get in durability and comfort. The Italian boots are much higher. You pay around $50 for the Gore-tex and 100 for the boot. Gore-tex lined boots are much more. But the gore-tex was not only waterproof which I expected, but they are softer on the feet, which I did not realize when I bought them. I did try them on and walked around them in the store--Galayns and the price there is the same as the web. I do notice that the size in Lowa run big and most others run small including the Merrell.
It looks like the hiking boot companies are trying to make all hiking boots as comfortable and "no breakin period" as possible. I wish they did that 20 years ago. Now they actually have boots designed for woman's foot. It's about time.
Materials: leather and gore-tex lined
Use: day hikes in some rough trails
Break-in Period: none
Weight: 2.8 lbs
Price Paid: $150