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Merrell: Excellent Customer Care & Service

Discussion in 'What equipment should you use and take' started by Wily, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    As I mentioned in my recent posts from the Inglés, we walked eight out of eleven days in the rain. Knowing that we were in for rain, I chose wearing my Merrell Moab GTXs in lieu of my non-waterproof trail running shoes. Although it was probably the best decision, I, nonetheless, still ended up with wet feet every rainy day. I would describe the Moabs as more water resistant than waterproof. Or, maybe there was a problem with my particular pair.

    In any case, after calling, describing the problem, and sending off photos, Merrell got back to me within 24 hours with their offer to replace my year old shoes with their newer comparable model. In their opinion, the Gore-tex should have kept my feet dry. Merrell will also be replacing my wife’s Moab 2 Waterproof shoes with their upgraded Moab 2 Gore-tex model for the very same reason. The Merrell Moab continues to be a very comfortable hiking shoe and one that works well on varied terrain. Hopefully, our new Moabs will be as waterproof as they are advertised to be. Great customer care from Merrell!
     
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  2. davebugg

    davebugg DustOff: "When I Have Your Wounded"

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    I test equipment for various manufacturers, including trail shoes and trail runners. You Moabs performed just fine. It is well known that the Goretex products will not keep feet dry during continuous or prolonged exposure to wet conditions. They will help keep feet dry in sporadic and light rain, drizzle and wet undergrowth.
     
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  3. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    Any suggestions as to equipment?
     
  4. davebugg

    davebugg DustOff: "When I Have Your Wounded"

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    Did you have any specific type of gear in mind? :)
     
  5. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    Nothing special. I have made many less than great selections over the years. I was hoping for some insights in general an out equipment ggat I am likely to carry on my back and trust my health and happiness with. (Not very much is it?)
     
  6. davebugg

    davebugg DustOff: "When I Have Your Wounded"

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    A lot of the gear testing that I have done, and will be doing over the summer, involves many of the "cottage industry" backpacking gear companies. These are the guys who revolutionized backpacking gear into the light and ultralight categories. I don't do reviews for the media (magazines, blogs, etc). I task myself to find the weaknesses in a piece of gear --- usability, design, unusual and abnormal wear/toughness, comfort, adaptability for a variety of backpacking seasons and terrain, and bang-for-the-buck. I provide honest and frank reports and feedback to these companies. If something sucks, they will know why and what would make it unsuck for my usage. If there are slight tweaks or a major re-thinking that needs to be done from my perspective, they will get a detailed guideline of what changes will improve a good design.

    I can tell you my favorite stuff that works better than other stuff that I've tried, and chances are you might like it as well. But I am usually one of a panel of users, representing a wide range of individual types -- male, female, young, old, body shapes, type of backpacking (overnight, long-distance, a few days, off-trail, Pacific Crest Trail type backpacking, bushwacking, desert, mountain, etc.).

    In other words, I can tell you what will be lightweight, a good design, and long lasting; but, comfort and fit are still very much an individual thing.

    Example ---- I spent a lot of time testing the Gossamer Gear Mariposa and Gorilla backpacks. These are terrific, and my current personal favorites. The Mariposa is under two pounds in weight, and the Gorilla is slightly less than that.

    The outside pocket layout and sizes are great, the bag's material is superb, the shoulder harness and hipbelt padding and adjustments are among the best among I've run into. And even a little thing, like the volume of the hipbelt pockets and the buttery ease at which they open and close, is quality. I wore the Mariposa, and was purposefully tough with it, on a 1 month thru-hike of the Colorado Trail.

    I carried the gear I needed, plus a 7- 10 day supply of food and fuel between resupply points. My base weight for the pack on that trip (all gear and clothing, but no consumables like food and fuel) was about 13 pounds. Total pack weight with food and fuel was about 22 pounds. Their was very little evidence of fabric fatigue, poor stitching, problems with the zippers or fasteners or straps, undue compression of the padding.

    It rode well and never threw off my center of gravity, nor did it draw attention to itself while I was carrying it, screaming "notice me, I demand attention". Making small adjustments to the shoulder harness or waist belt on-the-fly was intuitive and easy.

    But you know what my biggest, hugest complaint was? Back sweat. The amount of sweaty back from the Mariposa or Gorilla was not above average compared to a lot of backpacks, but I felt it could be made better. I made an emphatic point about it to Gossamer Gear, as did some of the other testers.

    I personally used the Mariposa on Camino last September, and made sure that Gossamer still knew I thought the back ventilation could be improved.

    Lo and behold, in January I received a new upgrade to the back panel pad. Instead of ventilated foam, this pad is like a very airy, flexibly cushioned, open mesh synthetic fabric. The breathability is phenomenal. Even more importantly, they kept the functionality of the back pad to be able to quickly pull it out of the upper and lower pockets into which the top and bottom of the pad are seated while it is being worn. So if you want to sit down during a rest break, you can quickly pull the pad out and use it to sit on.

    So... that is my perspective on a good and near ultralight backpack. What I can't tell anyone for sure is if their body type will also feel as good with it on. It is a good bet that, with the correct size, it will. Thousands of serious backpackers love both the Gorilla and Mariposa. The Mariposa is also a "Best" pick choice of a couple of major backpacking publications last year and this year.

    Should one automatically ditch a backpack just because a new generation is lighter, tougher, or has increased usability? It depends. If the old one is comfortable BUT, it is getting worn, is significantly heavier, and causes a user to be irritated by a deficiency in a feature set, then it probably makes sense to upgrade. After all, if one has a lot of backpacking to do in the years ahead, the per year cost of a new piece of gear is going to be low, with an increased satisfaction while using it.

    ULA (Ultra Light Adventure Equipment) also makes stellar backpacks that are used by a lot of long-distance thru-hikers as well.
     
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  7. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    @davebugg Thank you for an excellent reply. This is great information about small, responsive, manufacturers that I never knew about.

    I got worrying that I was asking for too much. Are you paid for your reviews? If so I apologize for taking advantage of your expertise. I am willing to read publications to get information, but taking unpaid advantage of someone's knowledge, if they use that knowledge for support is unfair.

    My normal choice of hiking/camping equipment is what local stores carry and in the last 10 years at least 4 have gone out of business. This leaves REI and Big-5. REI is great but tends to only carry well known equipment. I strongly disapprove of buying on-line as I want to support local businesses.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018
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  8. davebugg

    davebugg DustOff: "When I Have Your Wounded"

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    Don't worry, I am not a reviewer. All I do is test equipment for manufacturers. Everything that I report on is for their use in product improvement or development, not for making a living by publishing.

    I understand how you feel about local business support. I admire that. I do that for mom and pop local grown businesses here at home, as long as they carry what I need. I don't consider Big Box Corporate stores as local businesses, though. When REI left Seattle and expanded all over the place, it stopped being the same REI which I joined as member number 25,018 back in 1967. :) I also think it is important for the big box guys to look at who is producing superior gear, and the fact that people want it, in order to expand their inventory beyond the low and middle range offerings in each category.

    For example, the number of truly ultralight gear offerings from REI is only a smattering of their inventory. A cottage manufacturer like Zpacks produces a superior, true 2 person tent which weighs under a pound. The lightest REI two person tent in their inventory is over 2 pounds, but even then can only achieve that weight by tightly cutting down the length and the width and headroom, making it more of a one and a half person than a two person.

    What I never do is to take up a salesperson's time answering my questions about a product and then going to an online store to purchase the same item because I can get it cheaper. That's just isn't right. However, if I want an orange, and all they have are bananas, apples, and grapes, I will then go online in order to get my orange; I won't settle for only what the local store is offering.

    If you do have any equipment questions, UnkleHammy, feel free to PM me. :)
     
  9. danvo

    danvo Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I think better option is to stay here, on"visible" thread, than pm. Gear questions have many people.. Thanks @davebugg for your posts.
     
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  10. Canadian Wander

    Canadian Wander When in doubt, rack out...

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    Good idea with the testing info, so many people have such concern before their first Camino...followed by so much 'after thought'.
    For myself, I was happy to the extreme with my choices for my 2015 Camino France, and will use the exact same for the Portugal route in Sept this year.
    Thanks for the info Dave...and love the Avatar...familiar part of my background!
    cheers
    Rob
     
  11. Ian Mackenzie

    Ian Mackenzie New Member

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    Hi Willy, I am planning to walk the French Camino beginning August 13. I have been training here in Australia with my Moab GTX 2 mid boots and have found them to be quite hot although we have had a very hot summer this year. I would like to also take with me a pair of much lighter shoes that I can wear at the end of the day and also when walking if i feel the Moabs are to hot. My problem is that I have a US size 15 shoe size and find it very difficult if not impossible to purchase gear that size in Aus. Could you suggest something that would not add to much weight
     
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  12. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Ian - Welcome to the Forum. If you haven’t already checked out the archives on this site, you’ll find quite a few threads about footwear that might be helpful.

    For my after-hiking shoes, I carry a pair of PR Soles Recovery Sandals with me. They’re very light weight and are a nice change from the hiking shoes. However, although they’re fine for light sightseeing around town, I wouldn’t consider them appropriate for the trail.

    It’s only because of minimizing the weight that I carry that I don’t bring a second pair of hiking shoes. But, if I were to bring along another pair of shoes that could either be used post-hiking or on the trail, I’d choose my Saucony Exodus 6 trail running shoes or my Omnium Tevas. You will see a great number of people on the Caminos wearing running shoes. They would work fine as either your primary or secondary shoe. I’ve hiked here at home in the Adirondacks in my Tevas. In dry conditions, they’re great (except for the occasional stone you have to deal with). But, to bring either along with me would add another pound plus to my backpack load which I haven’t wanted to do. If you can keep your backpack load down to around 6 kg, then you might not mind adding a second pair of shoes. Buen Camino!
     
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  13. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Wily

    Glad to hear that Merrell customer service were so responsive. Last year I took a pair of Moabs I had bought about 4 months previously back to the shop where I bought them. I had only walked a couple of hundred kms in them but the padding in the heel was beginning to fray. The shop took a couple of photos and forwarded them to Merrell. A week or so later they presented me with a new pair of the Moab 2s. No quibble, no messing. That's the kind of customer care that keeps people coming back.

    Personally I have loved my three pairs of Merrells. I know they are kind of a compromise between the rugged hiking boot and a light trail shoe but I really do think they fit well for the Camino. I've worn them in up to 30 degrees of heat and last week through snow, sleet, hail, rain and mud. As you and others have said the goretex will not keep you completely dry but I have to say that when combined with gaiters (Rab Hispar Event in my case) and superwool socks my feet stayed dry for the most part and even when wet/damp the superwool socks kept them warm.

    I suppose as others above have said it comes down to a combination of things - good foot care, good shoes, good wool socks, using something like bodyglide, staying hydrated, packing light, listening to your body (especially your feet) and good luck. I met a German and a Canadian guy last week. The German guy had 16 blisters!!! The Canadian had less but was still in trouble. Both had use wool socks and followed all the recommended steps. I met a Texan on his third Camino who was suffering from shin splints and who was struggling.

    One of the interesting things I came across was the refusal by some people to take a break when it was obvious their body needed it. I know some people are under time pressure so taking a day out wasn't necessarily possible but there are always buses or taxis. I felt with some I discussed it with that they felt it might be a failure to give in and not walk every "faithful" inch (as one Canadian lady put it last year).

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018
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  14. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Greg - What a wonderful set of thoughts posted here! Although I may have had unrealistic expectations regarding waterproofing for my Moabs, in part based on Merrell’s own advertisements, I, too, think that they’re a great hiking shoe. At the end of a rainy day, although my feet were wet, they were not as wet as when I walked the CF in non-waterproof shoes. At this point, I don’t see a better alternative for myself than the Merrells since they provide a comfort level that really works for my particular feet.

    Your advice about all of the variables that affect walking is spot on! Keeping your feet healthy is not a simple one dimensional issue. If folks think about what you’ve identified above as key factors for the feet, hopefully they can avoid situations like you’ve described above. Wise words about taking breaks and listening to your body. As we know, it’s a long road to Santiago, so one must take care of themselves along The Way even if it means changing plans from time to time. Buen Camino!
     
  15. Greg Canning

    Greg Canning Well-Known Member

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    Hi Wily

    I don’t think that expecting shoes sold as waterproof to be waterproof is really expecting too much. Maybe they aren’t delugeproof but as Davebugg suggests we might need to take some claims with a pinch of salt. Funny thing is that I have walked in quite heavy rain and been fine but felt little ingresses of water when walking through wet long grass. Perhaps it’s something to do with the way goretex works. I also noticed that any contamination with sand or dust can undermine the protective nature of the membrane.

    Still they will stay my go to walking shoe for now.

    Buen Camino

    Greg
     
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  16. Wily

    Wily Francés 2016; Portugués 2017; Inglés/Fisterra 2018

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    Hey Greg - Yes indeed! Dave provided some excellent information on footwear. In particular, I liked his idea of carrying along a second pair of insoles. As they weigh next to nothing, a change of socks and insoles could make the second half of hiking on a rainy day much more tolerable and comfortable. So, one new addition to my gear list! Buen Camino!
     
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  17. Jo Waller

    Jo Waller Member

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    Ive just purchased my first pair as the offer was too good to miss. My usual choice is North Face Hedgehog GTX. My new pair kept my feet dry in the recent horrendous floods and wet conditions on the Camino Frances for all but one day. This was due to being totally submerged. We had to remove shoes and socks at one stage just outside Ronscenvalles to cross a stream. Waded through water above the knees. One guy was swept in and thankfully the route was closed after this incident.
     
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  18. Ian Mackenzie

    Ian Mackenzie New Member

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    Hi Wiley, Sorry about the incorrect spelling of your name in my previous post. I took your advise and went searching for a pair of sandals. I ended up purchasing a pair of Keens Arroyo 2. They are great to wear but unfortunately size 15 weigh in at .9 of a kg. I will still take them with me because I have managed to keep my pack weight so far to around the 6kg mark. (without the sandals) Thwe other thing that i have purchased that may interest the Australian members is some 80% Merino socks from a company called Lindner socks in Crookwell NSW. Apart from being very comfortable they have a loose fitting top so you don't get tension marks around the ankle which is great if you have a problem with foot swelling.
     
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  19. BROWNCOUNTYBOB

    BROWNCOUNTYBOB Well-Known Member

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    Ian, for both of my Camino Frances, I wore size 13 mid-height Patagonia hiking boots with Vibram bottoms. Both caminos we departed St Jean in early / mid Sept and arrived in Santiago mid / late October. The boots worked great, mostly keeping my feet dry and my feet did not overheat. The second camino, my wife and I brought along a pair of Outdoor Research gaiters. I only wore them a few times since the last 32 days of our camino was dry and blue skies. For our third camino frances to begin next Sept, I retired my Patagonias and purchased a pair of Merrell Moab size 13. Already breaking them in. They seem to be quite comfortable, right out of the box so far. In terms of alternate footware, the first camino I brought a pair of Simms hiking sandals. They have a closed toe box and were great for wearing around town. I only wore them one day when I was hiking and that was just across Leon to the parador. They were fine, but I was concerned I would not get enough ankle support to wear them on the trail. The second camino I wore PR Recovery Soles around town at night. They were light as air, but not sturdy enough for day hiking. And I got hot spots from wearing them without sock liners or socks. I'll bring them with me for camino 3 next year. Bob
     
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  20. Ian Mackenzie

    Ian Mackenzie New Member

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    Thanks for that Bob, I think I will leave the sandals at home and take my trusty Skechers slip ons for around town and on the plane. I wear them all over town now and they only weigh 400 grams.
     
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  21. Richard

    Richard Member

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    I've just completed the Frances.
    Followed the advice and purchased Moab 2 GTX.
    Had some atrocious weather, but shoes held up well, kept feet dry in all but very worst conditions when tramping through a quagmire.
    After 799 kms, shoes in good condition. I did experiment with different insoles but ended the camino with the originals, as replacements had flattened out. Plenty of walking shops on the way if you need to purchase walking gear, so don't carry heavy items unnecessarily.
     
  22. Jo Waller

    Jo Waller Member

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    Although my Camino was cut short due to ankle injury and Plantar Fasciitis in both feet, my North Face Hedgehog GTX shoes kept me dry all but one occasion in the recent floods across Spain, which is amazing considering the conditions and was only because the water came up to my ankles as I didn’t gauge the depth correctly!
     
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