Reviewed by authoritay from Clovis, CA on Thursday, August 30, 2012
I've owned the same pair of Merrills for the last 10+ years. They were a bit heavy, not the most stable, but they were broken in and comfortable as the day is long until this year. The soles tore off, the ankle braces cracked & shredded, and they gave up the fight. So, I needed new boots. I had tried a pair of Asolo's about 7 years ago that I picked up at an REI used gear sale. I found them to be too narrow with a really sloppy heel pocket. So I was skeptical trying these. I didn't want to spend $250 on a pair of boots, so I looked around A LOT, and came upon these at what I figured was a pretty good price. I hemmed & hawed for a couple days and finally pulled the trigger. Boy am I glad I did.
First off, don't expect these to be broekn in out of the box. They're not. But, they are comfortable enough that my first hike (albeit a little stiff) didnt leave me with any blisters. The fit was perfect, no sloppy heel or narow toe box. If you're a bit old school like me, the boot will more than adequately take a pair of liner socks under a pair of wool socks if you want to double up. The support is considerably better than my Merrill's ever hoped for. The construction is top notch, plenty durable, and the seams & stitching are both razor sharp. I read some other posts pointing out issues with sole bonds failing, and laces shredding. I've beaten the dayllights out of these things. The laces look new and the soles have held up well.
If I were to complain about anything, it would be the width of the heel. My Merrills were a fairly wide-soled boot, so they were plenty stable on any terrain. The sole on these isn't nearly as wide as the merrills, but it is satisfactily stable. These boots are much stiffer (the shank is, at least) and the materials, even after being broken in, hold their shape better. So, while the sole may not be as wide, the boot makes up for it through the use of stiffer materials (It's really about the mechanics of the boot: The moccassin-like feel/ construction of the Merrills vs. The stiff exterior and surprisingly soft cushiony feel of the interior fo the Asolos.)
I'm a fairly steady backpacker. I put about 1500 miles on my Merrills in 10 years, and my Asolos have seen about 100 thus far. I'm 6'4" and tip the scales at about 235. My pack usually comes in around 55lbs. My regular summer trips are usually 8-10 day trips between 75-125 miles, with 25% or so off trail through some tough terrain. My Merrills never leaked a drop through the Gore-Tex membrane, and neither have my Asolos (though I've given them plenty of chances to.) I would say soggy feet will only occur if you go ankle deep on a stream crossing.
Bottom line about this boot: It'll need some break-in time (about 10 miles or so) but after that it's all butter.
Best Uses: All Weather Conditions, Grass, Mixed Terrain, Paved Trails, Rocky/Unstable Terrain