Gear Review: Merrell Phaser Peaks

When out on the trail, how long I stay outdoors usually depends on my comfort level. A poor jacket, poor snowshoes, or poor planning can quickly put a damper on the outing. As a result, when I find a reliable product, I stick with it. My Merrell Phaser Peaks are one of those items.

I bought these hiking boots a year ago and I don’t go out into the woods without them. They are that good, and at the price, I consider them a bargain.

Often the key to staying warm is staying dry. These boots have a waterproof construction that will keep you dry even when walking through water. In addition to a waterproof upper and waterproof tongue, the entire boot has a waterproof membrane backed with a polyester mesh lining. The sole is a special Merrell design called Vibram Phaser and is made for rough terrain and high water. A “Grade 7” insole and compression-molded EVA footframe are made to keep your feet comfortable regardless of the workout. This boot comes in men’s and women’s sizes and retails for $125.

But the performance is where this boot really shines. I am not kidding when I say these are the best boots I have ever worn. I initially bought them for a hiking trip in Alaska. I wanted to buy a quality boot that would make the trip enjoyable, and I was willing to pay more to make that happen. A friend recommended Merrell and after talking with the salesman I decided they were the boots to try. They didn’t let me down.

After hiking 4,000 feet to the top of Gravel Mountain and spending four days on a wilderness canoe trip down the Delta River, these boots were the right choice. They not only kept me dry on the ice pack and melting snow, but also kept me dry when launching the canoe and portaging through puddles – and all this without needing to break them in. Needless to say, it was as if Merrell custom made these shoes for my feet just so I could enjoy this trip.

When fall came around I was excited to try my Merrell’s under different circumstances. They were my first choice for turkey and deer hunting. Even though they aren’t in camouflage, these boots did exceptionally well whether climbing up a deer stand ladder, or stalking turkey through the woods.

With limited insulation, these boots work best when exercising. I would occasionally have cold toes after sitting in a tree stand for several hours in November. But when snowshoeing in December, my feet would remain warm. These boots do not have GORE-TEX, but I’ve never had a problem with sweat building up inside the boot. (If you think this will be an issue, Merrell offers this option in higher-priced boots.) I have also never had a problem with blisters or split toenails.

And now going on my second winter, these boots don’t look any worse for the wear. Despite being dried next to many a campfire, there are only a few scuffmarks and a lose thread around one of the bronze lace hooks. The rest of the boot is still in good condition, and still waterproof.

In this day and age when it seems like all of my jeans have holes in them after one season, it is nice to see a company make such a quality product. As a general rule I don’t like warranties or other promises. I will buy a product once. If it fails me, that’s it. I don’t want a replacement, and I don’t want a repair. If it has failed me once, it will do it again. If you want me to buy your product again, then make sure it meets or exceeds my expectations. I imagine that I’ll have these boots for many years to come, and if I ever have to buy a pair of boots again they will be Merrell. They have proven their worth more than once.

About the author

Judy Nugent

Judy Nugent is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast from Chicago. In addition to snowshoeing, Judy enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, and exploring the Wisconsin wilderness. Her articles and photography can be found in several regional publications.