Friday, August 12, 2011

Trekking/Hiking Shoes - what to look for and why I like Merrells.

Wayanad, Kerala
I love shoes. Anything with high heels especially but I must say my favourite shoes are my rather ugly Merrells.
I did not trek/hike/walk more than 2 kilometers till last fall when I signed up for an intense seven days in the Utah Desert with BOSS. This required a lot of prep work – physical and equipment wise. The biggest advice I got from people was GET GOOD SHOES. This was stated again and again. Get good shoes, with a good fit and break them in.
I was in India and could not find decent trekking shoes for women. Now that I know the place better I know you can get Quechua at Decathalon and WildCraft in Bangalore but last year I did not find any. I ultimately ordered two pairs from the US and had my husband bring them over.  After reading a thousand reviews ( literally) the two shoes I chose:
Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid
Keen Voyageur Mid
I tried them and liked the fit and ankle support of the Merrell’s though I must say the Keen’s looked better. I only had three weeks after I got my shoes till my trek so I broke them in by wearing them daily (including on my flight to the US). On reaching US I did drop by REI and got a new sole insert put in to make it even more comfortable.
I have worn the Merrell Moab for a year now. I wore it in Utah, for the Everest Base Camp trek and for numerous hikes around Bangalore, in Greece and Seattle.
During the BOSS trip seven out of nice participants had Merells – three Moabs. I walked for days in them, through water and sand and on boulders. The grip is amazing on rocks and they dry superfast after a river walk. I had no – ZERO – blisters. The ankle support is good.
Everest Base Camp too – on stony paths for thirteen days – not a single blister. Others in my team had Quechuas and found them to be very comfortable.

Boulder, Utah
Zappos just sent me a mail reminding me that my Merrells are a year old and they have new ones if I want a pair. I still have my Keen and the my Moabs are doing great but I know when they have lived their life to their fullest I am going for a repeat. I love these shoes.

What to look for in good hiking boots:
·         Fit: Try it on, if it pinches or hurts anywhere chuck it. Don’t think they will expand etc. There should be a little room for thick socks but no cutting or pinching feeling anywhere,
·         Support: Ankle and foot arch should be supported if you want something for long hikes. For the arch you can buy inserts.
·         Waterproof or not: Depends on where you want to trek a lot. Wet or dry place. I have liked Moab’s level of breathability – it is not completely waterproof but does not get my sock wet at the sight of a drizzle.
·         Traction: Make sure the soles are good. Vibram is the way to go I hear. Basically it should not skid easily. Good tread – almost like you are checking out a tyre.
Namche Bazaar, on way to Everest Base Camp
·         Weight: Lighter the better but don’t skimp on above mentioned feature just for weight.
·         Look – I’d say last on the list. Get some cool laces if it really bothers you.
Then break them in before a long hike. Wear them all around. When breaking them in look for hot spots.
Hot spots are places on the foot that are red, sore, burn etc after a long day of wearing the shoes. Too many mean a bad fit. For a rare one you can use moleskin or blister patch. Good socks help too.
Good Socks:
Try to wear a liner sock and then thick woolen socks for long hikes. Good socks are almost as important as good shoes.


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