What’s up guys, Joe Hernandez here and I am giving you a little bit of 411 on the Merrell Phaserbound hiking boot. I am a southern California hiker that has been doing it since I was a kid so I hope you find my experience with this boot helpful to you.
Lately here in southern California, there has been a lot of rain, snow, and more rain due to the El Nino weather system and it has done a number on some of the trails on our San Gabriel Mountains. This is especially true in the Mt Baldy area and unfortunately there have been a few fatalities due to poor trail conditions. I recently took a small early morning hike up to Sunset Peak since the forest service closed off the Icehouse Saddle trails for maintenance. The peak is about 6K elevation and all in all about 7.5 miles out and back. The boots I had on the hike were Merrell Ventilators. I had only had these boots for about 4 months and really liked how lightweight they were and how they fit on my feet, and you can never go wrong with vibram soles. The thing I didn’t like about them was that the midsole was very flexible. The trail had a few stretches where the rain and snow had washed out the path with mud and different size rocks from gravel size to watermelon size. After a while I started to realize that the bottoms of my feet were really starting to get sore and were actually getting tender with every step. This was no good because I still had a good 2 miles left in the hike before I could kick my boots off.
Fast forward to the next morning, I was at REI returning the Merrell Ventilators and in search of a new boot. I needed a boot that offered a sturdy midsole as well as waterproof capabilities. I knew I wanted to stay with Merrell though because they have always fit really well on my foot and you hikers know that a good fit is vital for preventing hot spots and blisters while on long hikes. After trying a few on, I decided that I was going to give the Merrell Phaserbound boot a shot. They definitely had the sturdy midsole I was looking for and also offered the M-Dry waterproof capability. Another feature I like was the sturdy rubber toe cover as well as the sturdy rubber heel cover. Stubbing my toe or scrapping my heel via a mis-step is no longer an issue that I have to be concerned with. The webbing loops on the boot were something that I had never seen before on a boot but they are awesome. I do not have to tie crazy knots to keep my heel from sliding up. My foot stays nice and secure in the boot with no slip or slide.
All this was nice in the store but it was time to take them out on the trail to see what they were really capable of. Once again I was up on the Sunset Peak trail taking the boots through its courses. The first thing I noticed that yes the midsole was sturdy, as was the heel and toe but I did need to do a little bit of breaking in to get them to fit right. No big deal because I knew that for how often I hike, this would happen in no time. They are now nice and broken in and feel great. Second, the boots performed great when I was going through rocky, uneven surfaces. The bottom of my feet did not feel a thing and the vibram soles gripped everything, even the snow. I didn’t slip and fall on my ass not one time, and have yet to do so while hiking in these boots. So far they had done great but I still needed to find out If they were really waterproof or just really water resistant. So I took to the foothills and chaparral behind my house for a 10-mile walkabout right after it had been raining all day previous. The trails were wet and muddy as I had expected. Once again I was pleased with the performance of the boot. Even with wet surfaces my footing was never compromised and the ankle support was fine. At times I was ankle deep in mud and water and not once did any moisture get into the boot and my feet remained dry.
All in all, I am very pleased with the Merrell Phaserbound boot, and well worth the $170.00 bucks I paid for them. They are sturdy, waterproof, lightweight and reliable on multiple surfaces. My only issue with them is that they were a little stiff at first, but within a few hikes they were broken in and that issue was resolved. Here are a few of the specifics of the boot via the Merrell website. Hope you enjoyed the write up and feel free to leave any feedback on your experience with the boot. Also, I’d like to thank Mike and Mel for the opportunity to be a guest blogger on the website. It was an honor.
• Full grain leather upper
• Metal hook and webbing loops for secure lacing
• Merrell M Select™ FIT.ECO blended EVA contoured footbed with organic odor control
• External instep and heel stability arm
• Vibram® TC5+ outsole
• 5mm lug depth
• Weight: 2lb 14oz
Thanks to Joe for this great review! What boots you all are wearing this year? Let us know in the comments!