The Wind River has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best backpacking boots for 2020.
Historic Range: $89.95
Reviewers Paid: $99.00-$150.00
Historic Range: $50.00-$100.00
Over the years, I've owned several pairs of these boots and I've always found them to be pretty solid boots, often lasting several years. I typically hike in the Canadian Rockies (though Nothern Sheild and Costal Mountains aren't unheared of) and these are my go-to boots for day trips, shorter multi-day trips and trips on gentler trails.
I'm a fairly heavy guy, 220lbs, and these boots always seem to offer a strong balance of support and comfort, which is really nice on shorter hikes where fatigue isn't really an issue. Furthermore, the boots offer decent water-resistance and good grip in a variety of soil/rock/weather conditions.
However, these are not the most supportive boots on the planet. I find that when either hauling a heavey pack or negotiating rougher terrain (or both), these boots do not offer enough support and it is rather easy to get the feeling that you are about to roll an ankle. Granted, these are not meant to be really heavy-duty boots as there are substantially heavier ones in Merrel's line up, so this is more of an observation more than anything. Also, the uppers tend to hold up well for quite a long time, but fail catastrophically (often collapsing completely) once their time is up which has left me scrambling for new boots.
All in all, this is a great heavy hiker/ light pack boot. It offers solid weather-proofing, a secure yet comfortable fit, excellent grip in most conditions (anything out there grip well on slick wooden bridges?) and have good support FOR THEIR INTENDED USE!!!
Though these look similar to a heavy pack boot, they really are just a hiking boot on (a little bit of) steroids. That being said, I will be continuing to use these as my "light" boots for the 7th season in a row.
Use: dayhikes, shorter multi-day, lighter packs, better-manicured trails
Break-in Period: 15km, give or take
Price Paid: $150
If you're looking for a good looking, comfortable, lightweight, goes-with-everything high-top hiker, I'd highly recommend this shoe. They don't feel like boots, so I'm referring to them as shoes. :)
I've owned my first pair for 20 months and although they're starting to look worn, one shoe only starting coming apart in one little spot in the rear ankle, and I'm pretty tough on shoes. Other than that, these still look pretty good for wearing them solid in work and play for almost two years.
You should also know I've worn these 90% of the time, even in the summer and they never feel hot. I haven't worn them in the snow however, so I can't comment on freezing weather, but I think they'd hold up. They've seen their share of rain though.
Earlier this year (2005) I had heard Merrell discontinued them, but I just found out they're back and I bought two pairs this time. I haven't really found another hiker I like as well--many others look stupid IMHO. I hope they keep making this style for years to come.
Use: normal every day use
Break-in Period: 2-3 weeks
Price Paid: $99
Due to the leather upper, this boot is a little heavier than its nylon counter parts. However, it provides more ankle support. The boot is awesome. Comfortable, lightweight for a "heavy weight" boot. If you are carrying extremely heavy loads you may want to purchase a heavier boot. However, for the 1-day to multi week backpacker/hiker, don't pass up this boot.
Materials: Leather upper, Vibram yellow label
Use: day hikes, backpacking
Break-in Period: 1-2 light days around the house
Weight: 3.5 lbs
Price Paid: $99.97