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Gear Review: Merrell Col Mid WP Hiking Boot

Killer traction in all sorts of slippery terrain
gear guide boots merrell col mid WP 445x260Merrell Col Mid WP (Courtesy Photo)

Best Grip
There’s nothing better than a wintry mix of icy-wet rock and half-frozen mud—with a dusting of light snow for good measure—to test a boot’s traction. The Col passed with top marks, thanks to a Vibram sole with sharp-cut lugs that grip and brake effectively while also quickly shedding mud and dirt. “I spent a whole day up to my ankles in slippery mud, and I was the only one in the group who never fell on his rear,” reports a New Hampshire tester. “And I still had dry toes at 4 p.m.”

The proprietary waterproof/breathable liner proved totally reliable during months of testing. And the underfoot support and protection match the tread: capable of handling rough conditions. A full-length nylon shank and firm polyurethane heel insert help offset rough-trail pounding, while the rest of the midsole has EVA cushion for maximum trail-striding comfort. The full-grain leather upper, with wrap-around toecap and sturdy metal hardware, looks new after all the abuse.

Caveat: While the traction and support are big-trip ready, the relatively short ankle cuff makes the Col best for hikers who don’t need extra joint support when carrying 30-plus pounds (and who won’t be crossing deep streams).

Bummer: The membrane is not as breathable as the best. $145; 2 lbs. 11 oz.; m’s 7-12, w’s 5-11

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