While feeling connected to the ground is something I appreciate during a gym workout, I didn't think this same feeling could translate to a hike — out in the wild, a stiffer shoe is the rule. I was dubious when Merrell sent me its new minimalist hiking shoe, but after going on numerous hikes in the Proterra Vim Sport ($100), I can't wear anything else on my feet. With hiking season just about to hit, here's why the Vims make an excellent choice on the trail.
Before I even got the Vims out of the box, I was struck at both the weight and size of the shoes. The Vims weigh in at only 24 ounces; surprisingly lightweight for a hiking shoe. On my first hike out, I found that I appreciated how light the Vims are; it made maneuvering the trail much easier, and unlike my other hiking shoes, I wasn't keenly aware of the added weight on my feet. This helped me move a bit quicker, and also added to my comfort level, which was especially important on a recent 10-mile hike. While many hiking shoes use steel to offer stability, Merrell saves ounces by using Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) in the arch, which allows for more flexibility. While I felt more connected to the ground in the Vims — but not so much I felt every twig and rock under my feet — they're still built with stiff support. In addition to stable arch support, the midsole is built with PU to offer added stability. While these shoes will definitely be my go-to for most day hikes, I would probably opt for a steel design for any difficult hiking with rough terrain.
Keeping reading to learn even more about the Vims!