When I read the marketing which arrived with the Merrell Wilderness Canyon boots with its references to retro design, limited editions and their recent showcase alongside finely tailored suits at catwalk shows I was instantly concerned that these were the â€˜Chelsea Tractorsâ€™ of footwear; they look the part but are not really designed to venture off tarmac. My fears, although not completely unfounded, were a little extreme.
The boots are based on the original 1982 award winning Wilderness range, once voted Backpacker Magazineâ€™s â€˜Best boot in the worldâ€™, launched now to celebrate Merrellâ€™s 30 year anniversary.
The boots have a traditional no frills appearance and are the first pair of boots which were instantly comfortable and did not give me any discomfort as I broke them in. In fact, I took the bold step of wearing them on the hill after only a couple of hours’ wear in the house and did not regret the decision.
The Vibram sole is broader than you would get on a modern boot which may, over time, result in separation from the upper after hours of tripping over boulders and stubbing toes but in the present adds to the feeling of stability and provides good grip.
They are made of good quality supple leather and provide good ankle support and padding.
I have two gripes, one of which is easily fixed. To customise the boot you receive red, blue and black laces. Itâ€™s not the colour choice which upsets me but the fact that they are the modern plastic things which donâ€™t grip and spend more time flailing around un-done that holding the boot on your foot. This is easily fixed by a trip to Timpsonâ€™s.
The other problem is more fundamental and limits their seasonal use. They are not waterproof. It appears that in their ode to 1980â€™s design Merrell have reverted to 1980â€™s technology, ‘dubbin’, to keep your feet dry. With that in mind I can thoroughly recommend these boots for one to two season use for those who like a boot that looks and feels traditional. A Goretex lined version of these boots would turn a good boot into an excellent one.