A good boot for countryside rambles, long forest walks and the odd hill day. Despite its all-leather construction, the Merrell Forestbound Mid is reasonably light and instantly comfortable, as well as being great value too.
Great everyday walking boot
Some durability concerns
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Merrell Forestbound Mid: first impressions
An all-leather, mid-cut budget hiking boots the Merrell Forestbound Mid Waterproofs are designed to prioritize comfort and protection. This is achieved thanks to their quality leather uppers, a waterproof liner plus plenty of ankle padding and generous underfoot cushioning. The midsole features a moulded nylon arch shank embedded in an EVA foam midsole for stability and flex. At under 500g in a men’s size nine, they’re lightweight for a leather boot too, which ought to further alleviate foot fatigue during long hikes (see also Hiking injuries and ailments: how to avoid and treat them).
The fit is fairly neutral, neither narrow nor broad, though it certainly didn’t seem to be as wide as some other Merrell footwear we’ve tested. It’s a fit that should suit a wide range of people, though – as ever – always try before you buy if you can (for more on what to consider, see How to choose a pair of hiking boots).
This is a robust-looking boot, with upper metal lace hooks and minimal stitching. This generally means fewer potential failure points, though we did wonder about the placement of the forefoot seam, which runs across the inner section of the boot right at the point where the boot flexes, at the base of the toes. This might be a potential weak point. It’s the only negative in terms of construction however, as otherwise the boot is well-finished.
• RRP: $130 (US) / £120 (UK)
• Weight (per boot): 456g / 16.1oz
• Materials: Full grain leather upper with M SelectDRY waterproof liner, EVA midsole with nylon arch shank, M SelectGRIP rubber outsole
• Colors: Merrell Grey / Black / Cloudy / Dark Earth
• Compatibility: Three-season walking on most non-technical trails
Merrell Forestbound Mid: on the trails
Unsurprisingly given their affordable price tag, these boots make use of Merrell’s own in-house waterproof membrane and rubber sole compound. The former doesn’t always seem to have the best reputation, and some buyers have commented that their boots have leaked, but we didn’t experience any issues on test.
The brand’s outsole impressed us too, offering dependable grip, with its chunky 5mm lugs biting in well, particularly on softer terrain. The angled grooves on the outer edge of the sole also seem to shed mud fairly well.
We particularly liked the protective toecap and heel counter, which prevent the leather from picking up too many scuffs and scrapes, while warding off trail debris.
Overall, we reckon these would be great boots for countryside rambles, long forest walks and the odd hill day. It’s fairly unusual to find a full-grain leather boot at this price point too, particularly one that is so light and comfortable, all of which makes the Merrell Forestbound Mid WP an excellent value proposition.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.