You may remember Beth's enthusiasm for her first pair of decent approach shoes in a review she posted here a while back and she's not the only hill walker I know who's moved from the stout boots that we were all brought up to wear for walking to the much lighter option of the approach shoe.
If you've not yet come across them then Beth described them well in her review:
Think of approach shoes as a hybrid of the sole from a walking boot and an upper from a pair of your comfy slipper like trainers.
And if I has to describe them more briefly it would be "a trainer on steroids".
Strictly speaking this is my second pair of approach shoes. My first were made by Meindl and they were fine as far as they went but I always found they pinched a bit and they turned out to be better as a cycling shoe.
That put me off the approach shoe thing so I went back to my old favourite, Hi-Tec boots, for the next few pair of walking shoes. Hi-Tec have their critics but for me they scored in two significant ways: they are very reasonably priced and their lasts seemed to match my fairly broad feet.
However the last pair of shoes I bought from them pinched and they're not getting any better so I started to look around for something else. I hate shoe shopping (actually I hate clothes shopping in general) but we were in our local branch of Nevisports and I came across these Merrell All Out Blaze Vent shoes so I tried them on and liked them straight away.
They felt good on my feet, nice and wide with good arch support. The tread, in the usual Vibram®, looked convincing and they were Gore-Tex® lined. I confess that the tart in me also liked the olive green colour.
I've just got back from my second outing in them and they've proved every bit as good as I hoped. They were comfortable to walk in and although I did slither a bit in some mud (as did Beth in her shoes) the grip didn't let me down when it mattered in a tricky scramble - the sort of rocks where I rather think my Hi-Tec's would have had some problems.
So that's down to those soles. As you probably know Vibram is a broad church - they make a lot of different soles in a lot of different compounds. This one is TC5+ apparently and I think they're on to a winner.
As for the rest of the spec according to the Merrell web site the shoes feature:
And all in all I'm very happy with them thus far. I'm sure they'll be available from your nearest good walking shop (I paid £93 for my pair of size 11s) or failing that you can also buy them from Amazon with free returns on some sizes.
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