Now that the seasons are changing once more, clothing and gear for having a comfortable and safe outdoor experience also change.
One very important part of the outdoor attire for hiking, climbing or any activity is also footwear. Boots and hiking shoes, to be more specific.
We often focus on jackets and brands that specialize in jackets for a variety of activities, ranging from the easiest and simplest ones, to extreme sports that require high-performance and technical clothing and gear.
Well, it is time to look at footwear, as one of the most important things to ensure that you purchase correctly as it can make or break your experience out in nature.
While there are shoes that can be versatile and suitable for a number of sports activities, this does not necessarily translate into them being proper footwear for those who are looking to challenge themselves. This is why shoes and boots made for a specific activity, for example hiking, are an essential part of your wardrobe.
However, today we will not be looking at different types of boots and hiking shoes, but rather at two brands which are renowned for making quality footwear, Salomon and Merrell.
Let’s get started!
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A short history of the brand
Salomon Group was established in 1947 in Annecy, France (here are some other French outdoor clothing and gear brands). Nowadays, the brand makes a variety of outdoor clothing and gear, but they started out as a metal working shop, specializing in saw blades.
What’s common between metal working and sports gear?
Well, skis, for example. Not only did Salomon make steel edges for skis, they also invented their very own ski binding type, moving away from the typical leather binding straps.
Throughout the years they expanded their product range to cater to a number of other activities, but their focus remained footwear and skis.
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They are primarily renowned for their snowboarding, hiking, trail running, adventure racing and, of course, skiing gear and clothing, including options for different ages and genders.
Salomon boots and shoes are made from a variety of materials, depending on what the design is intended to do. Based on that, then whether it will be a textile shoe or a leather hiking shoe will then be decided.
Their footwear ranges extensively in performance, from those who are lightweight and made for activities that require comfortable shoes but nothing too fancy, to those that are suitable for hours and hours of long walks out in the woods.
Salomon shoes are made utilizing a variety of manufacturing techniques and materials, but they also rely heavily on technologies, in order to ensure the quality and performance of the finished product.
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The Gore-Tex membrane is one of those technologies. We have previously discussed a number of Gore-Tex products, as well as brands that rely on it for their high performance garments, due to the quality and weather-resistance abilities of this technology.
Another detail that bears mentioning is the Contagrip® TD outer sole, which helps with traction and makes hiking shoes and boots secure in difficult terrain due to its innovative pattern.
Their OrthoLite® die cut insole technology provides great cushioning to the foot, along with high breathability that makes this insole extremely comfortable.
These are just some of the features in several of their footwear, but SensiFit™, Advanced Chassis™ and others also bear mentioning.
Usually, their hiking footwear feature a protective toecap, too, along with a gusseted tongue that helps prevent the inside of the shoe from getting dirty as you walk.
Now let’s take a look at one of Salomon’s popular products, as we usually do in brand comparisons.
Salomon X Ultra 3 Wide Mid GTX Hiking Boots
Men’s version: Check it out on Amazon.com (paid link)
Women’s version: Check it out on Amazon.com (paid link)
The design we picked by Salomon is the X Ultra 3 Wide Mid GTX hiking boots, which come in both men’s and women’s version.
This is one of the brand’s bestseller hiking boot, which comes with a leather upper, coated with PU to help it withstand the elements better, further helped by Gore-Tex.
It is lined with a breathable mesh fabric and comes with both a protective toecap and mudguard, which is a wrap around the base of the foot that serves to protect the sides.
The Advanced Chassis™ makes this boot more efficient during movement and the SensiFit™ provides a highly comfortable fit that makes hikes easier and more enjoyable.
Salomon’s prices on their hiking shoes and boots vary quite a bit depending on the design, with options that can start at around $90 and go upwards of $200.
Are these products worth their price?
Taking into consideration their comfort and quality, as well as the online consensus when it comes to their performance, Salomon shoes and boots are some of the best you will find on the market.
A short history of the brand
An American brand established in 1981, Merrell was the vision of Randy Merrell, Clark Matis and John Schweizer.
Randy brought his skills and expertise in making boots and other footwear, whereas Clark and John brought their knowledge and experience in skis and outdoor adventures. Their primary focus was to design a hiking boot that would be high performance, while at the same time affordable for the average buyer.
Throughout the years, despite their main expertise being in footwear, Merrell’s product range expanded to include clothing and other accessories that are essential for being out on the trail.
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Nowadays, Merrell continues to be one of the top brands recommended when it comes to affordable but high quality footwear, and clothing for adventures out in nature.
Quality footwear requires quality materials and craftsmanship, and Merrell does not disappoint in either. Like Salomon, Merrell, too, relies on sustainable means of production and that includes making a high quality shoe or boot that will last for a long time, lessening the impact on the environment.
The brand relies on both synthetic and natural materials, including options made of leather or polyester and nylon textiles, the majority of which are accompanied by mesh linings that add breathability.
The most renowned technology used by Merrell is the M-Select Dry, a waterproof membrane technology similar to Gore-Tex, that allows your feet to breathe while protecting them from the elements.
However, they use Gore-Tex as well in some of their more resistant designs, which are meant for longer hikes and harsher conditions.
For their outsoles, Merrell rely on Vibram®, which is one of the best makers of outsoles in the market, renowned for their Arctic Grip sole and other similar ones, designed to make shoes grip better in challenging terrains.
Lastly, the insoles used in Merrell footwear are the Kinetic Fit, a design that provides great support to the heel and arch of your foot. For those who require further cushioning, the M-Select Fit is also an option in some designs.
Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Ventilator Hiking Shoe
Check it out on Amazon.com (paid link)
One of the most popular designs that comes up for Merrell footwear is definitely the Moab 2 Vent, which is a bestseller among those who are more keen on short hikers.
It is a shoe made of suede leather, in combination with mesh fabric that helps with breathability. It comes with a protective rubber toe cap and a tongue designed to protect the inside of the shoe.
This is a comfortable design, which provides good cushioning and support thanks to the Vibram TC5+ outsole and the sculpted insole that also helps the foot to stay in place, preventing blistering and discomfort during walking.
As we said earlier, Merrell provides a reasonable price range for most of their designs, which start at around $80 for their lighter and less-technical designs, and go up to around $250 for designs that are made to provide impeccable grip, comfort and protection.
Are these products worth their price?
In short, the answer is yes. Merrell provides a great range of designs that are reasonably priced when taking into account the overall quality and performance.
3. Which Brand is Better?
This question never has a clear-cut answer, because it depends on what you are looking for.
Regarding these two brands, if you want affordable options but of a nice quality, then Merrell has you covered. Their footwear are renowned for their lightweight and comfort, and the numerous technologies developed by the brand and used in their designs provide a great range of options.
However, those of you who are looking for hiking shoes or boots that come jam packed with features for extensive hikes and challenging terrains, Salomon, in our opinion, provides better options in this regard.
They are best known for the high performance of their shoes and boots, therefore if it’s technical designs you are looking to purchase, we would go with Salomon.