Factory Merrell outlet store online

How to choose the best Merrell Alpine Boots outlet

The first time I went hiking was in Switzerland in the ‘90s, which sounds fancier than it actually was. I was there for summer camp and the packing list included the usual—t-shirts, shorts and sunscreen—but also hiking boots that “must be broken in.” Having grown up in Rhode Island, I was more into boating than backpacking and had never summited a mountaintop. I headed to a REI-type shop and bought a pair, but truth be told, I didn’t bother to break them in. I thought, eh, they feel comfortable enough walking around my carpeted bedroom, so I’m sure they’ll be fine on some rocky trails.

Merrell Hiking Boots

The right hiking boots can make the difference between a great hike and a torturous one. 

GETTY

Of course, I was seriously mistaken. I ended up with such painful blisters from wearing those darn boots for hours on the intensely steep Swiss Alps terrain that I swore off hiking—and hiking boots, too. Never again.

Three decades later, I found myself grappling with that decision. I went on a wellness retreat this winter in the foothills of the California mountains, where the itinerary included herbal wraps, labyrinth walks and pre-dawn hikes through 30 miles of trails. “Mountains to climb. Vistas to discover,” the description read, “Being in nature not only feeds the body but can feed the soul.” How could I miss out on that? I confronted my hiking-boot demons and bought a pair—the Merrell Alpine Hiker, to be exact.  

Merrell Hiking Boots: Merrell Alpine Hiker

MERRELL

Merrell Alpine Hiker

$95

As much as I wanted to do hours of research and try on mid to high-cut pairs to find the perfect fit, this trip came together last minute and I wasn’t super comfortable going to stores during the peak of the Omicron surge. I scanned the options online and settled on Merrell’s Alpine Hiker—it looked lightweight, yet sturdy and surprisingly stylish. I figured with a trusted, trail-tested brand like Merrell I was in good hands (or soles?). I didn’t get the shoes until a day or two before I had to leave, though, thanks to global shipping delays, which meant I had no time to break them in.

I’ll cut right to the chase: These boots were incredibly comfortable. Maybe the technology behind performance footwear has evolved since the ‘90s but this pair was a dream to wear right out of the box. The leather—which is vegan (a major plus for comfort and my conscience) wrapped around my ankles without being stiff or cutting into my skin. The laces—made from 100% recycled material—didn’t need to be tied super tight to get a secure hold. The midsoles were cushy as a cloud yet supportive and the serrated outsoles were thick but not clunky so I could move easily over rocks.  

Merrell Hiking Boots

Merrell has been turning out quality hiking gear, tested on the trails since the 1980s. 

MERRELL

With my Alpine boots on, I felt like a legit hiker on that trip. After the first day, I graduated from the beginner three-mile hike to the moderate five-mile option and, by day three, the advanced seven-mile expedition. I put on my Teva socks, Champion leggings andCotopaxi hooded jacket and tackled that terrain. At one point during a treacherously steep descent, I lost traction on some loose gravel for a second but my Alpines caught my grip, saving me from skidding out. Post-hike, I had zero blisters or soreness from my footwear.

I actually liked wearing these boots so much, I kept them on when I wasn’t hiking. Which for someone who previously hated hiking boots, says a lot. I even got compliments from fellow hikers asking where I got my boots. Now, back home, I wear them for icy, snow days and anytime I want a super comfortable yet stylish look.

My only regret is that I didn’t find this hiking-boot nirvana sooner. I could have been summiting mountains and making memories for years had these Alpine Hikers existed in the ‘90s. But what is they say on the trail? It’s all about looking forward, not back.