This is a 2 stage review. The 1st stage is written on the first day of testing, the 2nd stage after a month of use.
They Say – Itâ€™s a brand new world for hiking shoes. Our ultra lightweight Proterra Sport feels like second skin with its revolutionary glove-like upper. Itâ€™s designed for optimal natural movement via durable, lightweight Stratafuseâ„¢ technology that eliminates bulky construction. The low profile midsole delivers more heel to toe ground contact for enhanced control and agility, and low bulk, carved-out reverse lugs flex for infallible traction. The result: an unparalleled, responsive ride that never stops.
â€¢ Mesh upper
â€¢ Merrell Stratafuseâ„¢ upper provides a glove-like fit for lightweight durability and natural movement
â€¢ Bellows tongue keeps debris out
â€¢ Protective TPU rand and toe cap
â€¢ M-Select FRESH naturally prevents odor before it starts for fresh smelling feet
â€¢ EVA removable footbed
â€¢ 4mm Drop / 10mm Cush / 21mm Stack Height
â€¢ Molded TPU arch shank
â€¢ Minimal design PU midsole increases ground contact and enhances stability
â€¢ 2.5mm lug depth
â€¢ M-Select GRIP tunes each outsole with durable traction that grips when and where you need it
We Say – Stage 1 – My pair came in black and red, which I preferred to the grey/blue/yellow shades shown online.
You can see how wide the shoes are at the front, offering plenty of space for feet plus hiking socks.
The tongue is made from a soft, flexible material, nice to the touch and seemingly large enough to keep the stones and twigs out as I walk.
They’re very lightweight, more like a trail running shoe than a hiking shoe.
My first outing with them was a simple walk down town, and then along the pebbly beach. Only about 6km in all, a gentle stroll. I found them extremely comfortable, very ‘close to the ground’ in feel (not very padded but at the same time very stable and protective), and performing like I’d worn them in for a few months. Their look was also equally at home in town or out. Ok, we’ll see how they go over the next month.
Stage 2 – Over the last month I’ve worn these Proterra Sport shoes in the forest, on wet ground (grass/mud), around town all the time and also on a 10km run. They’re not really made for running, but I thought they felt quite like barefoot running shoes so I’d give them a go.
They worked ok on the run, you can really feel the ground under you without it punishing the soles of you feet, but when I got onto tarmac they didn’t have the padding to give me a comfy ride. The tongue worked ok but the amount of debris that gets kicked up as I run the tongue wasn’t large enough to deflect all of it away. So, I’d say they are allright for trail running if you have no specialized shoes for the job, but I wouldn’t recommend them for this activity.
Wearing them as a hikingÂ shoe though and they are very good. Today, the last day of the test, I’ve been messing around on wet grass for a few hours – not long grass, the sort you get on sports fields – and my socks were as dry at the end as they were at the beginning. The grip performed well too, no slips at all. That was on grass. When I walked onto wet cobblestones or wet, mossy rocks, they didn’t grip well. In reality probably the only thing that grips well on mossy rocks is the bare foot, so saying that these don’t isn’t too much of a criticism.
I like this new trend towards less padding, you really don’t sacrifice anything in comfort but you do feel the contours of the ground underneath you more. I personallyÂ really enjoy feeling the rocks underfoot without them hurting me, it feels like there’s less between me and the world and it does bring me closer to the place I’m walking.
Another feature I like is that the material between the toe are and the lace area is soft and flexible. This means that when I’m going forward uphill, there’s a great amount of ‘give’ as my toes bend and my foot moves upwards, resulting in no tension at all around that part of the front/upper foot.
These are half the weight of my regular hiking boots yet they’re doing much the same job, or the have done, so far. The fact that they’ve shaped like shoes so have got no ankle support says to me that they may not offer the protection I want if I’m off hiking alone in a stony landscape, where chances of twisted ankles are higher than usual. So, if you’re going into the upper peaks of the Lake District, or worse still the Sinai desert where the floor is strewn with relentless debris but you really can’t afford to hurt your ankles because there’s no chance of emergency service call out, then try these out well before you go. I haven’t had the chance to check them on such terrain though, so can’t say for sure.
For me, I’ve been sufficiently impressed to say that these are the shoes I’ll wear when I go to Sri Lanka next year. The trip will take me through thick jungle and I reckon these will cope well with the conditions. The toe cap will protect me from tree roots and occasionally rocks hidden in the undergrowth, the Gore Tex lining will keep me dry (it’s going to rain a fair bit there, apparently) and the flexibility and lightness of the shoe will hopefully prevent me from getting injured on what will be long days spent on varying terrain.
So yes, these shoes are well worth considering. I’d advise going into a stockist and trying on a pair, I reckon you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
See the Proterra at:Â http://www.merrell.com/UK/en-GB/Product.mvc.aspx/31520M/0/Mens/Proterra-Sport