Recently, I decided I wanted to get a good pair of “general purpose” boots.
Now, here’s the thing …
I’ve been a “flip flops” kind of guy for most of my life. I mean practically my entire adult life. Because I spent so many years going in and out of dojangs (martial arts schools) — I have worn flip flops 80% of my walking career.
The good news is: wearing as little as possible on your feet is great for your foot, ankle, and toe health (I don’t have time to get into it here, but you may have noticed that “barefoot running” has become all the rage the last few years. That’s why).
The bad news is: I knew almost nothing about what makes good boots, what is out there and how to wear them for things like hiking/rucking. Now I know a little less than nothing.
So I started doing research …
Take a look at this Spec Ops group from the Sandbox:
All the sources I’ve read label these guys as Navy SEALs, but the point is almost all the spec ops guys overseas ditch the standard issue desert boots for high(er) end commercial/civilian hiking boots (case in point, 3 out of the 4 guys in this pic are wearing Merrel).
After doing some research and looking for a pair of “light duty” hiking boots/shoes, I decided to get my feet wet (hopefully not literally, it hasn’t happened yet) on the Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe pictured below:
I knew I’d be doing some light hiking/rucking with a “light” pack (less than 50lbs), plus general walking around/outdoors stuff, so this was my first foray into the hiking shoe/boot world.
The first thing to notice when you click here to check these puppies out on Amazon, is the 4.4 out of 5 star reviews. Obviously, this is a popular entry level hiking shoe.
So what do I think so far?
Well, as I said, I’m far from an expert, but here are my impressions.
*** Standing all day: at the one-day Dynamic Shooting Class I took, my heels and lower back were KILLING me from standing up all day in the concrete floored inside shooting range when I was wearing New Balance minimalist street shoes. I’m conditioned to short runs/sprints in barefoot running wear. I’m NOT conditioned to standing up all day at all, so the minimalist footwear didn’t help at all. And that was just 8 hours.
After getting the Merrels before my last class at Academi, I got to see how that was. The Academi class was outdoors (little more forgiving rockbed shooting range) but it was 2-days. My feet felt great afterwards. Not a perfect test for sure, but meaningful to me since it seemed to help. Also, I wore these during the 3-day instructor bootcamp out in Utah, and through all the traveling (airports, more indoor walking/standing, and they were great).
*** Hiking/Rucking: I’ve only worn these hiking/rucking with 25lbs in a pack once since I got them. They held up great, my feet definitely did not hurt at all and I obviously had plenty of grip, etc in the mild woods near my house.
*** Support: I look at this two ways: I’ve never felt like I have weak ankles (knock on wood), so “high top” shoes never felt more supportive to me. But, I can definitely feel — even with these low tops — more support in the heel region and with more weight over my feet (with a pack on, etc).
*** Looks: I think these are pretty popular from what I can tell (1,278 reviews on Amazon as I type this). And they don’t look too “military” or anything. I feel like you could wear these almost every day and most people would not bat an eye (which is good because I don’t think anyone wants to look like a “crazy survivalist”). I got the regular walnut color but Amazon shows like 11 colors so you can match them to your purse (if you’re into that sort of thing) …
*** Price: I gotta say, jumping into the “good shoes/boots” market had me a little scared. These are under $90 shipped from Amazon. You can’t beat that.
*** Final Verdict? For what I bought them for — light duty hiking/rucking and general wear during the winter or outdoors — they are great. I know they’re not water proof, but I hope they’re a little water resistant, I’ll probably get to test that this winter.
Now, when I get into doing some serious miles and rucking with a bigger pack, I might move up to a more serious hiking boot such as the Merrel Sawtooth (very popular with SOF too) pictured below.
Merrell Men’s Sawtooth Hiking Boot
But until that time I’ll be putting these Merrel Moabs through their paces.
One more thing:
I bought a couple pairs of “hiking” socks to try out because … well I’ve never had “hiking” socks.
I tried both these Wigwams:
Wigwam Men’s Cool-Lite Mid Hiker Pro Quarter Length Sock
And I also tried these “Darn Tough” Merino Wool Socks:
Darn Tough Vermont Men’s 1/4 Merino Wool Cushion Hiking Socks
I really don’t know what I am doing when it comes to good hiking socks, but I heard the Wigwams were good and I wanted to try some type of Merino Wool.
Both worked great! That’s about all I can tell you now as I haven’t worn them multiple times each but the Wigwams seemed very “breathable” and your feet dont sweat while the Darn Tough Merino Wool’s kept my feet warm in Utah mornings in the desert and … not too sweaty when it warmed up to like 60F and sunny.
Anyways, if you’re in the market for some hiking shoes check out the ones I recommend.