The Merrell Capra Mid Sport Gore-Tex is described as a “speed hiker”, which suits me as I do like to get a wiggle on when I’m out hiking on my own. The boot is designed for all kinds of hiking, including climbing and scrambling. As durable and waterproof as you would expect a Merrell Gore-Tex product to be, it is also a lightweight boot, offering something that you won’t mind wearing for hours on end.
Features of these boots include a Gore-Tex membrane providing a waterproof and breathable upper, and a vibram “mega grip” outsole to make sure your footing is always solid. There is also a moulded nylon arch shank and a “stratafuse exoskeleton” (sounds bionic!) to provide lots of support for the foot and ankle while you are bounding over fells and along rocky paths without adding the extra weight a more solid construction might. All of that makes a boot that looks something like this…
It was the cushioning inside the boots that caught my attention when I first put these boots on. Rather than just being a standard footbed, Merrell have placed the layers of cushioning “strategically” so you get more of it exactly where you need it. There is plenty around the heel, actually an air cushion, which is good for me as I appear to be prone to a heel blister or two after my feet got soaking wet a few hikes ago – very annoying as I’ve never suffered from blisters before that. There is also less cushioning at the toe end of the boot to allow your toes to feel the ground more and do their thing when it comes to keeping you stable on all kinds of terrain.
They are quite bright. I mean, they are not grey or brown, which most hiking boots tend to be – much more interesting, but so very obvious when they’re new. This shouldn’t bother me, should it? But I admit that on that first wear I was hoping for a few muddy puddles to dull them down a little bit – just so they didn’t look quite as new… I’m really only learning to do colourful now, I’ve always been quite a muted person! They still look nice and bright now, a good 30-40 miles later, despite a couple of rather muddy wanders and some farmland paths this weekend. I can’t fault the Gore-Tex layer; my feet have stayed completely dry. And the bellows tongue is very handy in keeping any debris out, helping to prevent any blisters that might arise from bits of dirt that make their way between your boot and your sock.
The first time I wore these out I didn’t bother with proper hiking socks – I was only going to amble for a handful of miles around my favourite country park, after all. But that was a mistake. The top of these boots is designed differently to anything I’ve worn before, around the top of the ankle acts like a sock enclosing the top of the boot to your leg, keeping debris and most importantly rain on the outside. I tied the boots up as I would normally, nice and tight, but that cuff around the top dug in and made my skin sore through my cotton every day socks. Since then I have made sure I have a) worn proper hiking socks which offer a bit more cushioning and b) not been so strong when tying up the laces, allowing for some movement. Both of these things have made the boots so much more comfortable – and of course now they are broken in, too, the top of the boot is more supple.
Stood at the ruins of Barlings Abbey, Lincolnshire – with my Merrell Capra Mid Sport boots on my feet.
On Saturday I walked 16.5 miles in these boots along all kinds of low level footpath, including gravel, mud, fields, grass tracks, country lanes and bog standard concrete pavement. They felt light and comfortable, and as with any decent pair of walking boots I didn’t really notice them. I found the out sole gripped well when I needed it, the food bed provided plenty of cushioning, and the ankle support delivered was excellent. I arrived at my destination with happy feet, and I have these boots (and my Bridgedale socks) to thank for that.
The Merrell Capra Mid Sport Gore-Tex are £140 and come in UK size 3.5-8.5 (medium width). A great choice for fast hiking.
Thank you to Merrell for sending me a pair of these new hiking boots to help with my Lyke Wake Walk training.