By Jill Searl
I've had my trusty pair of Merrells for well over four years. They are old, grubby, dirty and ripped. I've been looking for another pair of hiking shoes to replace them over the last two years. I’ve even looked for a new pair of the exact same ones, but I don’t believe Merrell even makes them anymore. I bought a pair of Keene boots last year which are comfortable in all, but I really don't like the style of them with the big black toes. No matter what new shoes I’ve tried in the past couple of years, I always seem to gravitate towards my Merrells when heading out on a hike.
Jill's new Patagonia Drifter A/C Hiking Shoes
I recently purchased a pair of Patagonia A/C Drifters. We receive Patagonia catalogs in the mail, but other than that I haven't really seen (or noticed) the brand in the stores. But I liked the style and the shoes had great reviews so I decided to try them. As soon as they arrived I tried them on and my first impression was they were very comfortable, had plenty of cushion and fit true to size. I have wide feet and it has been difficult to find hiking boots that are wide enough, these were plenty wide enough. They seemed to have a lot of support which is a key feature for my old ankle injury. One thing I didn’t like right away was they were heavy, which is different than my old, super-light Merrells. A quick comparison between these Patagonias and similar-sized Merrells shows that the Patagonias are about 4 oz. heavier than Merrells. After my initial try on, I was anxious to hit the trails and break them in. But I’d be lying if I said I didn't pack my Merrells in my backpack just in case!
Jill's Patagonia Drifter A/C on the summit of South Moat Mountain
So, Karl and I hiked South Moat in Conway, a moderate 5.6 hike. As we hiked along, I made a few adjustments to the laces and once I found my comfort level, they felt great! The upper portion of the trail was a bit steep with plenty of ledges so I was a bit worried about the trip down and how my feet would move in the shoes walking down the slabs. All I could think about was my awful decent down the Tecumseh ski trails in a new pair of Merrell boots (yet another failed replacement trial for my favorite Merrells). My toes were cramped and my feet slid so much I had blisters for weeks! But my feet stayed put in the Patagonias and I made it off the mountain without a single blister. It was also very warm the day of our hike and I found the shoes to be breathable. The only thing I’m not sure about is how waterproof they are, I read a couple of reviews saying that weren’t that good, but we didn’t come across any water on our hike.
All in all, I’m happy with my purchase and look forward to wearing them on a few winter hikes.