In these strange times, when we can’t venture more than a few miles from our homes, or meet up with friends and family, we all need to take advantage of our daily exercise allowance in order to relieve the tedium of our confinement.
My family and I have been hiking around our local area, exploring trails off the beaten track in order to avoid coming into contact with others as much as possible, however my walking boots had started to disintegrate after owning them for over 12 years & my walking shoes had seen better days, so I needed to splash out on something to keep me plodding along.
As great as my old Scarpa boots had been, I wanted a bit more versatility, so decided to look for walking shoes.
My old walking shoes were the Merrell Moab 2 GTX which, thanks to gore-tex were waterproof, but unlike the boots I’d had, didn’t benefit from the Vibram soles. In the past I have found Vibram soles to provide a great combination of grip & longevity.
I wanted something that had both gore-tex & Vibram. It was also a plus if the manufacturer was one I had used before, so that I would know what the sizing was like, being unable to try them on in a shop given the current circumstances.
Enter the Merrell All Out Blaze 2 GTX, more specifically, the low rise version (there is also a boot available).
The upper is constructed from a full grain leather & mesh combination, the leather add to durability, as does the die-cut rubber toe cap, where the mesh helps with breathability. For waterproofing there’s the aforementioned gore-tex membrane, but the shoe also has tongue bellows, which helps prevent ingress of water & debris at the sides of the tongue. As these are a shoe, they’re obviously not going to be a match for a boot in terms of waterproofing, as the lower cut will more easily allow water over the top, but this does allow a greater degree of movement than a boot & if you trudge through water that is deep enough to slosh over the top, then you should have worn your boots.
Having just received these, I did what any sane person would do and immediately went out in them for a 5km hike. I would usually say this is ill advised, it’s wise to wear them about the house & or office for a short time to break them in before you go out on a longer walk.
The first thing I noticed, when putting them on, was that the laces needed to be taken out of the top hole, they came quite high on the tongue, perhaps that lace configuration is for people with thinner ankles, but after reconfiguring, they were comfy. The toe box allows ample width, so no rubbing resulting in blisters & there is a lot of cushioning from Merrell’s Air Cushion Viz, it feels like there is a little too much initially, but it settles after a short walk.
During my walk I encountered a variety tarmac, gravel track, stoney & grassy surfaces, although very little mud as we’re experiencing good weather at present, and the Vibram soles offered great grip & stability as I’ve come to expect from them over the years. I ventured near a river, so got a little water on them & had no issues with water ingress, the only problem I had was some tightness in my right foot, do to me over tightening the laces, a quick stop & adjustment resolved this & I was off again.
At the end of the journey, my feet felt fresh, no aches or sore bits, which is pretty impressive for box fresh shoes. Overall, my brief experience with these shoes has been positive, feet come in many shapes, so I’m sure they won’t be perfect for everyone, but in these early stages I’m happy with them. Hopefully that happiness will last for many miles, but only time will tell.
Disclaimer: This is my own review, I’ve not been asked to write it.
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Update 28/04/2020: The weather turned out to be a bit more Welsh today, but these are definitely waterproof.