It doesn’t really matter what stage of airsoft you are at, there are two things that never change in their importance: Good, appropriate eye protection and suitable footwear. This review focuses on latter, specifically the Merrell Intercept walking shoe.
Now usually I’d advise a good pair of boots, to help protect the ankle from getting twisted/rolled and it has been what I’ve been using since starting airsoft. I only recently swapped to these Merrell’s as a more lightweight shoe, in particular for the AI500 event that happened in August. If you’re after the specs of what the shoe is made from etc, then check out Merrell’s own website: https://www.merrell.com/UK/en-GB/Product.mvc.aspx/15691M/0/Mens/Intercept-Moth-Brown-(Leather)
If you don’t know who Merrell are, they are kind of a big deal in the walking/hiking market and have been making some pretty decent footwear for a long time, and have been found in the likes of Afghanistan and Iraq on the feet of some pretty high speed guys, so they’re probably worth a look.
This review is focussing on how these have fared at recent game days and being worn at the AI500 weekender, and also my thoughts against a more regular boot.
As a background, I bought these two weeks before the AI500 weekender happened and the only ‘breaking’ in that I did was a short 2-3 mile walk, mainly on roads with a little bit of countryside. Other than this, the first time they got some serious wear was at the AI500 weekender, which for those that went, and any of those that have heard the MAC Away team stories, we got stuck in pretty hard and were constantly on the move, on a site that was pretty tough on the feet. There wasn’t a hint of a blister all weekend, which for a walking shoe is pretty good going compared to previous experience.
Whilst these do not provide the same level of ankle support as a boot, there is plenty of strength in the side of the shoe to give you the support you need when trying to clamber over awkward terrain. I’ve always been prone to rolling my ankle, which is why I’ve always gone for a boot, however over the AI500 weekend and game days since I haven’t felt any hint of injury and I haven’t changed the way I’ve played airsoft to try and be more cautious. Because of the ventilation on the boots (as seen on the pictures), they are much cooler than a regular boot, however it does come at a cost, and that cost is being waterproof, put a foot into a puddle and it will come out soaked to the bone, but they aren’t advertised as a waterproof boot so there isn’t much you can complain about.
Thanks to the Vibram ousole, and the ‘Merrell In-Board™ Compression moulded EVA foot frame’ (to steal Merrell’s jargon) any heavy landings are very well cushioned, and your feet don’t suffer from pounding your way across a skirmish site, whatever the ground. As can be seen from the photo above, the grip on the sole of the shoe is fairly substantial and gives a good level of grip across most terrains you’d find them getting used on (and they seem to do alright in the mountains of Afghanistan so they’ll probably be alright on a few Manx hills).
So whilst these shoes heavy a heck of a lot of upsides, there are a couple of downsides. Firstly, the provided laces aren’t of the highest quality and are already showing signs of getting worn out. An easy fix but something I’d have hoped would have held up a little longer before needing to be replaced, especially as they are meant to be used and abused on all kinds of terrain. The other downside that comes with walking shoes rather than boots, is that sand and other debris will find its way down into the shoe, which can be a little annoying, especially on our site which features a whole load of sand, but that is a downside of the basic concept of a shoe rather than a boot so can’t be held against Merrell specifically, but something to be considered when looking at purchasing footwear.
- Lightweight and breathable, keeping your feet cool.
- Well supported and cushioned to protect your feet from heavy landings.
- High level of grip.
- Easy to clean
- Provided laces are a bit crap and will need replacing quite soon after purchase.
- Due to being a shoe rather than a boot, sand and other debris can get down the side of the shoe.
- Less support than a boot (although still suitable).
I’ve owned these boots for about 2 months now, in that time they’ve been subject to about 4-5 full days of airsoft, getting dragged around UCAP Sandpit, and the only sign of wear is on the shoe laces. Otherwise there is next to no marks on them.
Will need to wait for longer durability testing to see if this rating holds up.