merrell grasshopper air hiking shoes

Project Half Dome: Proper Hiking Shoes

By Heather

Up until just a couple weeks ago, I had been hiking in the same shoes I wear to the gym. They’re not even proper shoes for me to begin with, since they’re actually running shoes, and I make it a point of not running too much. I know, I’ve always had a problem with suitable footwear.

But at some point, common sense kicked in and I thought, “Self, you need to get a proper pair of hiking shoes if you’re going to be serious about it.”

There is just no way I could climb Half Dome, Mount Whitney or even Mount Baldy in my flimsy pink runners.

Good shoes are especially important on Half Dome, because the rock has been worn slick over the decades, so you re-a-a-l-l-l-l-y want good shoes with a nice grip.

The best hiking shoe so far

The brand of shoe was an easy choice: Merrell.

Darren has a pair of Merrells he’s been camping and hiking in for a couple years, and he’s never said a bad word about them. A fellow hiker I know also swears by them.

I read the reviews, looked at the styles, researched the best prices, sought out discounts and tried on a half dozen contenders. Hey, when your hiking shoe makes the difference between remaining on rock and plummeting to your death, you’re going to do your research.

I also knew that I didn’t want boots or anything higher than a mid-rise shoe. It’s a quirk of mine that I detest having anything touching or rubbing my ankles. Thinking about it is giving me the heebie-jeebies.

I also researched the difference between trail runners and hiking shoes. Trail runners are nice, but from what I’ve read, the soles aren’t as durable as hiking shoe soles. For $150 and up, forget that. Plus, hiking shoes are more versatile and better able to handle different kinds of terrain and conditions, according to the people who live in my computer.

And the appearance of the shoe is a factor, too. Most hiking shoes are ugly. Am I right? They don’t have to be super girly cute, but something even vaguely pleasing to look at would be nice.

So, based on all of that, these are the chosen shoes:

merrell grasshopper air hiking shoesNo fugness here!

I’ve already put them to the test, too. A couple weekends ago, Regina and I went on a 13-mile hike in the Santa Monica Mountains and my shoes were so amazing.

I didn’t even get a hint of a blister, and my feet felt about as good as they could after hiking 13 miles, but the shoes weren’t responsible for any pain. And bonus, they’re really, really light – you might say… like air!

We’ll be doing more intense hikes in the coming months, including one this weekend, and I’m eager to see how these shoes hold up.The soles feel plenty grippy, but I’ll have to find some rock to test them out for sure. I did notice on the 13 mile hike that I was tripping a lot less, which is a miracle. These shoes are actually making me less of a klutz.

Based on the early results, I’m completely in love.