Merrell Sawtooth Review

Living in Canada is amazing. That is, unless you have a military gear obsession for items manufactured in the US. Not only is the MSRP twice as much in Canada, but many items cannot be shipped here. The amount of product that cannot be exported for one reason or another has ranged from Magpul DVDs to thermal fleeces, and from lasers to night vision. And while I can see why certain things have been put on the do not export list, some things really baffle me. Example: Merrell Sawtooths.

Why a boot is exclusive to the US is beyond me, but maybe the challenge and the exclusivity is what draws me towards these crazy gear purchases. I contacted both physical stores and online stores and none of them would ship to Canada. Even if I wanted to have them shipped to a US address, they were asking me for a credit card that was linked to a bank in the US.

After a bit of poking around, I talked to a few friends who knew of a store that would ship to Canada. However, when they went through customs, they incurred a $100 duty charge! Long story short, I had a buddy who was going to NY, and also wanted a pair. We called in advance to put some aside and he picked them up no problem. (Sorry it took three paragraphs to get to the actual review…just wanted to advise you that purchasing these boots was not a quest to be undertaken lightly.)

First thing I noticed after opening the box is that Merrell sizing is really weird. I was swimming in these boots! Also, after taking a look at the liners, I knew I would want to replace them. I found the thickest liners I could; after slipping them in, the boots ended up being quite comfortable. No wiggle. So if you want to grab a pair of Merrells, I suggest you try them on in the store rather than buying online. (The pair my buddy had ordered were so big that not even a bigger liner would have solved the problem. He had to take a pass on the purchase, to the chagrin of the clerk.)

The Vibram soles are well worn after more than a year of use, but still maintain traction.

My primary use for these boots was supposed to be for hiking and camping. At the time of the purchase, though, I wasn't exactly swimming in cash, so they were also going to end up doubling as winter boots. The Vibram treads are very aggressive and quite thick. You won't feel much when you step on rocky terrain, and you won't loose your grip on hard packed snow. Also, the ankle support is quite rigid, so the chance of rolling is definitely reduced with these boots.

Now, I should tell you: there are a few ventilation areas on the boot which prevent the Sawtooths from being classified as waterproof. They keep my regularly-sweaty feet comfortable in the summer, but I don't recommend stepping in any puddles. So if it calls for rain, have an extra pair of socks on hand for after you dry the boots out. They're like sponges, even after treating them with a waterproofing spray. The bellows tongue is a nice feature, though, that keeps sand and other debris from entering your boot.

The bellows tongue has done a great job of keeping debris out of my boots.

The colour of the boot, I believe, is called Walnut, and is a nice brown. (The older version was more of a grey.) The laces are quite strong, and from the looks of them, they might just be brown paracord. Another nice feature: after the lower metal lace loops, there are a set of lace locks that will hold the boots tight (without a knot) before you tie up the upper boot.

To get a better idea of what the colours of the boot are, I've made these swatches to best represent the actual colours since my crappy camera seems to make it look like I used a red filter.

One thing that I noticed after about a year and a half of use was that the inside hooks for the laces started to bend out. I guess I rub my feet together when I walk causing them to get caught on each other. I was hesitant to use pliers to squeeze the metal back into place in case I snapped them. However, they got so deformed I was forced to perform said operation, and luckily they survived.

After using these as winter boots and sometimes rain boots, 
the cement has taken its toll on the heels. 

Overall, I've been very happy with these boots. They are quite rugged and resistant to wear. They are great for hiking, and perform reasonably well in the winter, even though I suspect that they were designed with desert in mind. I don't own a pair of waterproof Sealskinz socks, but they might be a good experiment/investment. I have noticed that the heels are showing wear, but it's because I wear them on pavement a lot. (editor's note: he also drags his heels!) Once these boots were broken in, I found them to be very comfortable and were able to keep up with everything I wanted to do in the non-winter seasons.

Geardo Ratings:
Warmth: 4
Breathability: 3
Wind: 5
Water: 2
Quality: 4
Durability: 4


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