Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Merrell shoe reviews

I don’t like clunky shoes, and none of these Merrells were clunky. Score!

They all, however, do fit quite differently and not just based on their purpose.

So, maybe my feet are shrinking in my forties, or maybe the sizes of shoes have changed and I missed the memo….but regardless, please note that although I was trying out size Tens, they all felt a good half size larger.

It’s also that lovely time of year in Vermont where going outside to train is highly dependent on our weather. So, lots of indoor experiences here.

Four different shoes, four different fits and experiences:

Proterra Hiker, Mix Master, Run Barefoot, Vapor Glove.

The Proterra Hiker: As stated earlier, felt a half size to big for me, but more importantly, they actually felt a full size too deep.  My toes swim in these shoes. They also felt as if they were pushing me into a more pronated position than my normal stride. I laterally rolled my right ankle a few months ago, so this was actually a welcome feature. I added another insole into these and now my feet feel quite comfortable, and I still get that small bit of pronation.

I’ve worn these to work and the gym many times. I stand for my nine hour shifts and these shoes feel pretty good. They feel good on the gym floor as well. I’ve squatted and dead lifted in them. They do have a bit of ankle on them, but they work just fine.

In my training I don’t need a low drop, low weight hiker. When I hike, I want a big, heavy, mud kicking, trail building boot. Whether in Vermont or Nevada, I need more foot protection for my hiking than this shoe offers. I do like the shoe for day to day use, however.

My shoe was spec’d at a 21mm stack height with a 0mm drop over 8mm of cushion. A unique color green on this shoe earned me quite a few complements.

Mix Master: Same general fit as the Proterra on me, big and deep. So I added a second insole to them and the fit is much better. These shoes do not pronate my stride at all. They have a nice neutral striding feel to them.

I wear these to work, to the gym and run in them. They are nice and light and offer just enough cushion for about anything. Although not specifically designed for trail, if I could have gotten them tighter on my foot, I would have loved to take them off road. They feel good on the treadmill and work well for box jumps.

This is definitely an athletic shoe. When I happen to wear them with a pair of jeans, everyone knows I’m a runner. Not a bad thing, but worth noting as there is nothing casual looking with this shoe. No pull tab on the back makes lashing these to my bag a bit more of a project than shoes with a pull tab.

My treads are spec’d with a 19mm stack height, 4mm drop over 8mm cushion. The bright red color on my model stands out like a fire truck.

Run Barefoot: These fit differently than the two previous. Still at a size ten, my second toe actually hits the front of the shoe a bit. However, they are not deep like the others, no need at all for me to add an insole. This shoe has a very neutral stride to it, but has a large arch in it. In fact I can only wear these for a few hours at a time as my feet start to hurt. These are very lightweight and make an excellent gym shoe. Because my toes hit, I don’t run in them, but I have done squats, jumps and olympic lifts in them. They meld with my gym floor nicely.

The Run Barefoot is spec’d at a 9.5 stack height and 0mm drop. A very nice looking shoe, it’s easy to wear this model going out when I don’t feel like being over the top flashy.

Vapor Glove: Zero everything, or close enough to it. This is a minimal shoe in almost every sense. If this shoe had been my size, it would never leave my foot.

I’ve been running in Vibrams for years and love the barefoot running concept and this shoe captures it, only without the potential of ripping a toe off in the deep woods. I have not run in this shoe, much to my chagrin, as they’re not sized right for me. I have worn them to work and the gym and they are excellent minimal shoes. Walking on concrete for long periods of time is uncomfortable, but they are excellent gym shoes. They feel great around the house and wearing them out is fine. It’s a shame its winter in Vermont, because I would wear these twenty four seven.

The color of mine though….Peach? Orange? Porange? I’m not sure what it is, but it is unique, and rather ugly.

Summary of my Merrell shoe samples: Credit where Credit is due, but also criticism where criticism is due. I provided the wrong shoe size to Merrell and it’s winter time in VT. So this makes a true fitting impossible, and also makes trying all shoes for their designed purpose challenging.

With that said though, all four shoes fit differently. The Vapor should obviously feel different, but the sizes and fits of the other three shoes, all tens, should feel the same I think. The arch in the Run Barefoot is too pronounced for my liking, but I appreciate the pronation in the Proterra. Every shoe on the market these days seems to come with a huge toe box, and these do too. I’ve never thought I had shrinking narrow feet…..but there it is.

The Proterra will definitely be a solid work shoe for me. I look forward to doing long road miles in my Mix Masters. The Run Barefoot is my gym shoe, hands down. And I hope to get a nine and a half pair of Vapors for summertime trail running. A few different purposes than what Merrell had in mind, but still functional. 

9/4/2015 Update.
 The Mix Masters lasted about 6months before they were too shot to run in. 
I had to unload the Proterra as the forced pronation was getting too uncomfortable. 
The Run Barefoots are still in good shape, I never run in them.
The Vapors are finally starting to show signs of wear. This shoe has been fantastic. It's great for wearing on road trips due to its very minimal design, it packs nice and small, it makes a decent water shoe.

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