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Trail and Scramble Shoes

Merrell Choprock Trail Shoe | Review

For journeys involving water and lots of it, this new trail shoe, the Merrell Choprock, could be a very useful asset

Why We Chose The Merrell Choprock: Lightweight, very grippy, very ventilated.

There are a few of these watersports/sandal/trail shoe hybrids popping up these days. If we’re going to put our finger on why, our guess would probably be the rise of swimrun. In this, competitors race from one point to another, tackling a mixture of land and water along the way and never stopping to change their footwear. Therefore, what they wear on their feet needs to be light, grippy, and more importantly, able to drain and dry as quickly as possible.

We’ve pretty much described this shoe, the Merrell Choprock. One of Merrell’s big launches for 2019, it’s something that we see as being very handy, not just for swimrun but for a number of activities that mix aqua and terra. Like, paddleboarding and kayaking for sure, but also perhaps for any hikes or trail runs where you know you’re going to be needing to cross a lot of streams. We’re getting a bite niche now, but if you were into coasteering, gorge walking, sawanobori (that’s worth looking up) or ghyll scrambling, these would be absolutely ideal.

“This is for those hikes that involve deliberate forays into water as opposed to accidental ones”

Let’s look at these from the hiker’s perspective though. What we have here is a shoe with an upper designed to get rid of water as quickly as it receives it. The upper is made from a mix of gauze-like mesh, webbing, and synthetics with a number of little channels through the insole and base to drain away water. It’s carefully enough designed to be able to prevent most debris from getting in, while to stop it all entering through that big old hole in the top (where your foot goes in) there’s an elasticated cuff that provides a secure, sock-like wrap.

When you’re hiking through water, as well as needing good drainage, you’re also going to need protection, because the risk of slipping on wet rocks or stubbing your toe on them is obviously very high. Fortunately, the Choprock has you covered there. There’s that oversized toe bumper, which is solid enough to protect you, then there’s the grip, which features a Vibram Megagrip compound and 5mm multi-directional lugs. This outsole is actually very similar to the one you’d find on a number of Merrell’s mountain running shoes, including the Allout Crush.

The Merrell Choprock reflects the rise of swimrun. Photo: Chris Johnson
Vibram Megagrip compound meets 5mm multi-directional lug. Photo: Chris Johnson
That oversized toe bumper will protect you when you're on the move. Photo: Chris Johnson

What you also get with the Choprock is a well-cushioned midsole thanks to a mixture of compression moulded EVA and a padded removable insole. The stack height (aka the differential from heel to toe) looks about 8mm – about average – and there’s a bit of rock which is common across most of Merrell’s shoes

Admittedly, this is definitely not a shoe for everyday UK hiking. But it’s not made for this. This is for those hikes that involve deliberate forays into water as opposed to accidental ones (like getting stuck in a Highland bog). Yes, that makes them pretty niche, but, if that’s exactly what you need, then, well, it’s absolutely spot on.

Tester’s Verdict

James Forrest, Outdoor writer and munro bagger

“I tried these out in place of my normal hiking shoes during a long day in the mountains of the Brecon Beacons and found they were comfortable straight away. On the trail they felt light and very grippy on the muddy downhills – I didn’t slip at all in them. I don’t think I’d want to use these for trail running in the UK but they’d be absolutely ideal for exploring a coastline, for paddleboarding or for any journey with regular river crossings.”

Merrell Choprock Trail Shoe

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