AMSTERDAM – I tried the Merrell Proterra Sport hiking shoe in Mt. Batulao in September, hoping to make it my replacement for my beloved La Sportiva Wildcat GTX, which has worn out after so many hikes. Trail running has become a big deal globally, and with it, a plethora of footwear. I am not a trail runner but I am keen on trying shoes that are designed for quick tramps and short, easy dayhikes. Ultimately, I decided that I liked the shoe, and I brought it along in Europe where I used it to do some hikes in Italy, including Mt. Vesuvius and the trails of Capri.
The Merrell Proterra Sport offers itself as a ‘minimalist hiking shoe’ and what I immediately noticed was that it was very light, and very comfortable — to a point that you would feel that it is a bit big for the size. It doesn’t require any break-in, and you can really use straight off the box.
In terms of sturdiness in rocky surfaces, it performs well enough but I am not sure how it will stand up to a lengthy trail full of rocks such as that of Mt. Tapulao. I have a feeling that the fact that it is not Vibram will start to be felt if you’re planning to use it for major climbs. But if you are just going for a regular hike, I think this is an excellent choice. As for traction, I didn’t have problems with the Proterra.
Lightweight shoes do away with waterproofing to make the shoes lighter, and for low-cut shoes, you’re gonna get wet anyway after a while since the water will seep in. For the Philippines, a non-waterproof shoe is okay since it allows you to cross rivers without worrying that you’re shoes will get wet – provided that the shoe dries quickly. The only drawback for the Proterra is that the mesh easily gets wet and it feels wet when it’s wet and slushy – unlike the Waterpro series of Merrell,the materials of which do not absorb water.
But overall it is a nice shoe and I will use it again for the dayhikes that I’m beginning to miss. I think the move towards minimalist footwear is a welcome development and I look forward to more Proterras in the future.