SNOWSHOE MAGAZINE GEAR REVIEW:

Gear Review: Pulse II

With shoes selling in excess of $250 sometimes it is hard to separate the truth from the hype. You want a good quality shoe for weekday workouts and weekend hikes, but you don’t want to spend a week’s paycheck to get there. The Merrell Pulse II is a good choice and an excellent value at $85.

For that price you get a solid, well-made, well-designed shoe without having to pay for name recognition like Nike, and without having to pay top dollar for exotic materials that make the shoe a fraction of an ounce lighter. If you are on Olympic hopeful in the 200-meter, or a marathon runner, high-end specialty shoes are probably the way to go. For the rest of us who are more interested in price and durability, the Pulse II is an excellent alternative.

Underfoot, the patented Air Cushion midsole and compression molded foot frame create the ultimate cushioning for your foot. An important component to comfort is the right fit. I have found Merrell shoes and boots to have a good fit for the shape of my foot. However, there have been customers who say that these shoes tend to run a little narrow. If this is a concern of yours, consider buying a half of a size bigger. The air mesh and leather bellows tongue help with the fit while providing good ventilation.

Once you find the right fit it is time to try them out on the trails. Rugged nubuck and leather upper are protected at heel and toe great for rocky terrain. Also, these shoes have a unique Vibram Multi-Sport outsole that has concentric tread with a broadly channeled design. This design allows the shoe to slice away water. The polyester mesh lining absorbs and disperses moisture more quickly, keeping your foot dry. On rocks, through the mud or in wet, this shoe is ready for any kind of workout. For multi-sport athletes they are durable cross-trainers.

Built to handle off-road hikes and runs, these shoes are also great for daily use. They offer comfort, support and durability, even if you only wear them to the grocery store. They are equipped with a technology referred to as Q-form or Quadriceps’ angle by Merrell. This refers to the angle between the kip and the knee. Because women have wider hips and a lower center of gravity, they have a more pronounced Q-angle. The way this works in me is that I am constantly wearing down the far edges of my soles. To counter act this, I can try to walk with my ankles turned inward, but this will only produce pain. Merrell addresses this cycle of discomfort so women won’t alter their stride. They accomplish this through an air cushion sole and two firm zones near the edges. These work in combination to insure constant support.

I am hard pressed to find much wrong with the Pulse II. For me the toe took awhile to break in so be sure to wear them around the house a few days before hitting the road for your morning run. Another deterrent in the past was color choice. I looked at these shoes when they were called the Pulse Low but they were offered in limited colors. Now they are offered in navy, light blue, wintergreen, rust, gray, and smoke. This style is also offered in a hiking boot that is waterproof. With these choices you should be able to find one in the color and style you like.

After testing these shoes I have found that again Merrell has improved upon itself with a versatile, durable shoe. Whether running, biking, or day hiking these Merrells are up to the test. I find it difficult to look beyond the Merrell line when they offer so much as such a competitive price. Check out the Pulse II before you make your next shoe purchase. You won’t be disappointed.

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About 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.