Merrell Allout Blaze Sieve walking shoe photographed by Charles Hawes

It seems that we decided we had had enough of getting cold, dirty feet and grit between our toes between 26,000 and 40,000 years ago. The hide of animals seems likely to have been the most favoured material early man used to clothe his feet and it has stood the test of time, although only the poshest shoes now have leather soles.

Shoe construction has become very sophisticated. In the last few years walking shoes and boots (I know, “What’s a non-walking shoe?” , you ask, but you are just being picky) have become very high-tech and very funky. Leather and synthetic, stretchy, breathable and very colourful materials are combined to produce works of design art. Jimmy Choo eat your heart out.

Merrell Allout Blaze Sieve walking shoe photographed by Charles Hawes

For me, a decent walk is around 10 miles and although I do appreciate an “easy” surface, I am happiest on upland and coastal paths, which can be rocky and are often uneven. Up to now I have always worn a walking boot that comes up to just over my ankle, providing it with support and protection. These are called “mid” boots. Why “mid” I don’t know.

I have two pairs of such boots, one made by Merrell and one by Berghaus (see my blog of 2012). In fact my Merrells have already been replaced since my post and I now have a pair of their Chameleon Evo Mid Synthetic. They are light (about 550 grammes a piece) and jolly comfy, although I think the wider fit of the Berghaus ones suit me slighter better.

Merrell Allout Blaze Sieve walking shoe photographed by Charles Hawes

But sometimes if I know that I am doing a walk on an easy, relatively flat surface I had thought it would be nice to have a shoe that was lighter still and better ventilated. Although my mid boots are Gore-Tex lined and so are waterproof and breathable, they don’t breathe as well as they would if they had holes in.

So it came at just the right time when those nice people at Merrell wrote recently to ask if I would like to review one of their new shoes that appear to tick this box.  I went for the quite strangely named Allout Blaze Sieve. The flyer that I was sent showed the shoe in a shocking pink which I thought just a little too funky so I chose the rather more subdued Castle Rock/Green Oasis version.

 

At just 297 grammes these are really light for a walking shoe.  They are a “pull on” fit, with a Lycra neoprene stretchy collar and a clever little sliding toggle to adjust their tightness. They immediately  secure and comfy.

Merrell Allout Blaze Sieve walking shoe photographed by Charles Hawes

The Vibram (good for grip) sole has an incredibly complicated design of all sorts of lumps and bumps and incorporates a yellow zig-zag that will be much appreciated by fellow walkers when you have your feet up on the table or if you are careful to leave the shoes upside down when you take them off.

Merrell Allout Blaze Sieve walking shoe photographed by Charles Hawes

To test them out before doing a “proper” walk, I wore them for several days of just being “out and about”.  I wore them with socks and without socks. A comfy shoe is one that you don’t really notice and socked or otherwise they were fine though  I preferred them with socks as without they felt a little sticky. I don’t think of my feet being particularly sticky and I don’t have that sensation when wearing my Clarke’s leather sandals so I assume that  the sticky response must be to the material that the sole is made from.

Merrell Allout Blaze Sieve walking shoe photographed by Charles Hawes

They have some support for the arch of the foot and according to the blurb they also have an “aggressive responsive trail platform”. They may well have been aggressive but I never felt they became angry, which is just as well cos who wants angry shoes? Life’s got enough hassles as it is.

Having passed the initial test of being comfy and well-tempered I decided to test them on a proper walk. Having nearly completed the Wales Coast Path I have been wondering what to try next. Wales  has so much fabulous countryside and since I also live there is very conveniently placed for trekking. I came across the website of the Cambrian Way and immediately felt drawn to the coast to coast (from Cardiff to Conwy) concept and the description on the website as it being “a tough high level coast to coast walk through wildest Wales”.

I asked my friend Neil (who you will have seen several times if you follow my blog) if he fancied undertaking the path as a joint project and he was well up for it, so on a warm day in June we met in Cardiff to do the first 10 miles or so to Castell Coch.  These were not a very tough or high level 10 miles – in fact they were a very pleasant doddle on the banks of the River Taff.

Merrell Allout Blaze Sieve walking shoe photographed by Charles Hawes

Because it was warm I wore them without socks and within 4 miles or so I noticed I was getting a bit sore on the ball of  one foot. By 5 miles I had got a blister and at around 8 miles the balls of both feet were blistered and really quite sore. This was rather disappointing. When I got home a found two near identical blisters of around an inch and a half across. I’ll spare you the pictures.

I hadn’t had a significant blister from my long walks for ages. I put this down to a fairly strict regime of  usually powdering my feet before putting my socks on and then wearing a thin liner sock and a walking sock of variable thickness on top depending on the weather.

These new shoes declare themselves to be “water ready” and suitable for “multi purpose hydro trekking”.  Now generally speaking I tend to jump over streams rather than walk in them and if its raining I hope my boots will keep my feet dry.  Wet feet walking is a new concept to me. Perhaps if my feet had been sweating profusely I might have been alright.

Perhaps, then, I should have reserved using these for a day of deluge, though the chances are that if I had a choice I would probably turn over in bed and go back to sleep if  had earmarked such a day for a walk. I can’t think that I am going to risk them again on a proper walk come rain or shine. But I will continue to wear them when I am “out and about”. And if you ask nicely I’ll show you their snazzy soles.

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The British Mountaineering Council are organising a charity Auction for relief in Nepal . Here is a link. Do please have a look.

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/celebs-join-forces-with-everest-heroes-in-onceinalifetime-charity-auction-for-nepal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wales Coast Path: Beaumaris to Benllech

June 21, 2015
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 Date walked: April 11th 2015 Distance: around 15 miles Map used: OS Explorer 262- Anglesey West From today and for the following 4 days I had arranged for a bag to be transferred between overnight stops by Anglesey Walking Holidays. I had to pay for their minimum of two bags rate of £16 a day. I […]

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Wales Coast Path: Menai Bridge to Beaumaris

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Date walked: 10th April 2015 Distance: About 5 miles Map used: OS Explorer 263: Anglesey East ************* It felt like a long time since I had finished my last section of the Path at Menai Bridge. And it had been – over 7 months. So I was quite excited to be giving myself the best […]

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May 24, 2015
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  A very pleasant walk in the hills between Cardiff and Caerphilly through old Beech woods and some historic sites of industry. Date walked: 27th March 2015 Distance: around 9 miles Map used: OS Explorer 151: Cardiff & Bridgend ************ My friend Neil and I have been going for walks together since we were in our […]

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Sixty on Pen-Y-Fan

May 17, 2015
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Date walked: May 2nd 2015 Map used: None – but the route is covered by OS Explorer OL12 Distance: around 5 miles ************ I had been wondering how to celebrate my 6oth birthday for some time. Years possibly. I had no appetite for throwing a party, where I would have probably have spent most of the […]

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A walk around Cribarth, Ystradgynlais and Cefn Mawr

May 10, 2015
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A wonderful walk though rugged moorland in the western Brecon Beacons National Park, taking in Cribarth, Cefn Mawr and a World War II plane crash site Date walked: 7th April 2015 Distance: 15 miles Map used: OS Explorer OL12  Brecon Beacons National Park ************* Paul and I were due to meet at 1.30pm – late […]

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A wildnerness walk in the Cambrian Mountains

May 3, 2015
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Quite a demanding trek over quite boggy ground in the Cambrian mountains below Plynlimon Date walked: 27th February 2015 Distance: around 12 miles Maps used: OS Explorer 215 Newtown and Machynlleth and 214 ********** Bob and I had stayed the night at The Mount Inn at Llanidloes. It wasn’t an altogether agreeable experience although the public […]

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A Legacy of Lead: getting lost with Kevin Walker in mid Wales

April 26, 2015
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A fabulous 12-mile hike around the disused lead mines near Dylife in Powys, Wales. Date walked: 26th February 2015 Distance: around 12 miles Map used: OS Explorer 215: Newtown & Machynlleth ********* The mountain road between Llanidloes and Machynlleth must be one of the finest drives in Wales, passing by the Llyn Clywedog Reservoir, the extraordinary Twymyn gorge and […]

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Canterbury Ways: a horseshoe walk along the Saxon Shore Way and Wantsum Walk

April 19, 2015
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Date walked: 27th October 2014 Map used: OS Explorer 150- Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet Distance: About 8 miles ************** Upstreet, on the A253 out of Canterbury, is something of a walkers hub, with three designated paths converging on the Great Stour river at Grove Ferry, just a couple of hundred yards down the […]

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Canterbury Ways: Saxon Shore Way from Upstreet to Sandwich

April 12, 2015
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An easy walk alongside the Great Stour River, finishing in Sandwich, and enjoying several sightings of Kingfishers. Date walked: 31st October 2014 Distance: about 10 miles Map used: OS Explorer 150: Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet ********** A bus from the city centre dropped me off at Upstreet, where I finished the last walk. A short stroll […]

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)