At first glance, it's not obvious why this shoe didn't score higher. After all, the Torque impressed us with all-around comfort, stability, traction, and protection. The firm sole is rockered for easy forward motion, and all testers gave the Torque high marks for trekking with bigger loads. Sounds good, and it was-for fast hiking. But when it came time for adventure runs, our testers weren't so psyched. Cushion wasn't up to the task, and at a hair more than 2 pounds, these were the heaviest shoes in the test.
Despite the weight and a full tongue gusset, the Torque stayed reasonably cool even in hot weather. And while I appreciated the roomy toebox after long, water-laden trail days in Death Valley, the extra volume folded uncomfortably on our slim-footed testers. A higher-than-average ankle and stiff sole aid stability, and reinforcements around the upper perimeter, heel, and toebox earned high scores for durability. But for ounce-counters who want a flexy runner, the Torque may be a bit conservative. Best for medium- to high-volume feet, and wide toes.
Overall: 3.4 (5=pefect gear; 1=save your money)
Sizes: men's 7-11 1/2, 12, 13, 14, 15; women's 5-10 1/2, 11
Weight: 2 lbs. 1 oz.
Contact: (888) 637-7001; www.merrell.com