Posts tagged 'Fitness Footwear'

Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams & Salomon Exit Aeros – final reviews

Posted by on May 31st 2011 in My reviews

These items for review were supplied by Adam Smith while he was a representative of Fitness Footwear Ltd.

The Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams have done a fair few miles now, I've been wearing them either with very thin socks or with no socks at all because of the sizing problem. With socks they still squeak quite loudly so I tend to wear them only when I'm on solo walks, obviously when I'm going sockless they're a tad more partner-friendly but the range of terrain is restricted accordingly. Aside from the noise they've been fine on all sorts of non-icy terrain, they're not waterproof but are quick to dry. Grip has improved with use. They've been through the washing machine on the "sports shoes" cycle with no detectable detriment. If I had the correct size I'd wear them a lot more and in more testing places. Oddly, I find that they are a really good choice for driving - I think it's something to do with the way the heel grips the foot-well carpet.

The Salomon Exit Aeros haven't done as much mileage but have proved to be fine for casual, mainly indoor wear. I still don't trust them in the wet - the grip seems to have worsened with wear. Again, they're not waterproof but they do dry amazingly quickly. I've decided that they have too much flex for me to wear them on long dry walks so they've been relegated to the role of slippers - they see a lot of use during YHA stays. Shape-wise they do fit me well and if I did acquire any more Salomons I'm confident that they'll suit my feet, but there's no way that I'd get a model like this until they've sorted out the sole/grip problem.

I've come to the conclusion that footwear such as these items doesn't suit the outdoors stuff that I do, although the Wrap Slams have been OK for general outdoor wear. Maybe I've not tried them enough, maybe I've been expecting too much of them, but I really can't get on with them. My feet still feel better in more substantial footwear, and I feel more confident when my feet stay where I put them. That's why I keep going back to the AKU Croda GTXs.

Review – Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams – now with sound-effects!

Posted by on September 22nd 2010 in My reviews, Shiny new kit

Another update on the Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams from Fitness Footwear Ltd....

Well, they're still comfy and grippy, but there's a problem - they've started squeaking!

At first I thought it was a sole issue, but after further investigation it turns out to be due to some of the innards. In each shoe there are two fillets of support material (closed-cell padding, I suspect) beneath the lining in the areas marked in yellow in the next two pics. These fillets all now squeak whenever they are compressed, i.e. every time a step is taken. The noises started out as quiet mouse-like squeaks last week but now it's akin to walking on whoopee-cushions. It's a shame that such a good bit of kit is now ruined by this annoyance.

 

 

 

I was putting the insoles back in after taking the above pics when I noticed the sizing on the underside. I'm still trying to figure out why size 8.5 insoles have been put into size 8 shoes (that's nominal size 8, of course, as in reality they're probably 7.5s or maybe even 7s).

 

 

I'm now of the opinion that if I'd paid for these I'd be sending them back to the retailer for replacement or refund, as they're no longer fit for purpose after less than three months of generally casual use, and as Merrell have put in the wrong insoles. Sadly this would be harsh on the retailer as it is a matter beyond his/her control, being the fault of the manufacturer.

Review – Salomon Exit Aeros – First Thoughts & The First Two Weeks

Posted by on August 27th 2010 in My reviews, Shiny new kit

A couple of weeks ago Adam at Fitness Footwear Ltd. was kind enough to supply me with a pair of Salomon Exit Aeros for review.

I'd opted for the Swamp, Dark Grey and Moss version, on the basis that after a good walk they'd probably end up with that colour-scheme anyway. They don't look too bad:

 

 

After the sizing confusion with the Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams I was expecting similar issues with these Salomons, but these were fine - definitely size 8s and they fitted reasonably well - there was much more room in them, enough to allow a decent pair of socks without feeling too snug. The arch-support is a little less that I'd usually choose, but it's acceptable in such bendy footwear. They do move around on my feet quite a bit though, so the feeling of security is less. The soles flex and twist a bit too much for my liking, but bear in mind that I'm used to stiffer footwear. Grip-wise, they're rather odd - in the dry they grip well, and they squeak like crazy on polished floors, but on wet ground they've been rubbish - I've already slipped over on the damp yard while wearing them, and they've been no good on damp grass or up ladders either. They do dry quickly, however, and the meshy uppers allow remarkably good airflow to the point where I get noticeably colder toes whenever I wear them in a breeze.

Like the Wrap Slams, they're still waiting for a decent test off-piste, but I know now that these aren't going to be the footwear of choice for my next outing to the Lakeland Fells - the risk of slippage is just too great. Maybe I'll wear them for the walk down to the Fish Hotel and back again, that way I can blame any slippage on the beer-intake!

In short, I don't like them for any of my usual outdoor activities, but that doesn't mean that I won't wear them - to dismiss them so soon would be unfair. I'll try to give them a fair work-out over the coming months and then report back in due course.

If you're interested in laying your hands on some Salomons, have a look at the items here.

Review – Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams – The First Few Weeks

Posted by on August 16th 2010 in My reviews, Shiny new kit

Just a quick update on the Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams from Fitness Footwear Ltd....

I've worn them almost every day and so far they've given me no discomfort despite the size-issue that I mentioned in my initial review. My toes are still close to the end of the toe-box, but I've suffered no "toe-bash" yet. That said, I've not done any serious up-and-down walking in them yet, as the opportunity for that sort of activity has yet to arise.

The uppers are showing few signs of wear and they're easy to clean - after getting them caked in mud I just hosed them down and let them dry in the sunlight. I can live with that sort of maintenance regime.

The soles have retained their impressive grip (they provided excellent traction on damp grass when I wore them for a power-kiting session) and they are wearing evenly, which suggests that they are well-suited to the way that I walk. I find the scaly, reptilian sole-pattern quite appealing - they leave curious foot-prints which the kids find amusing.

One very minor gripe - the combination of the thick ankle-padding and the fabric that covers it is a magnet for the spiky stuff that gorse and heather throw at your feet as you walk by. Thorns and similar pointy bits tend to get embedded quite easily and it's worth digging them out now and again before get in too deep. Once they get fully beyond the fabric they can poke back through and spike you at will, and they're a sod to get out.

I noticed quite early on that I couldn't get on with the way that the tongues kept pulling up on my toes during the course of a walk, so I re-laced them to bypass the tongue lace-tabs. This is a much better set-up for me.

So far I'm very impressed with their performance, I just need to give them a proper work-out on some rugged terrain. We're scheduled to spend a weekend in the Lake District sometime soon, I'll wear them then (if the conditions are suitable) and report back accordingly.

 

Review – Merrell Siren Ventilators – First Thoughts

Posted by on July 21st 2010 in My reviews, Shiny new kit

So, here is a preliminary review of the contents of Package 3 - a pair of Merrell Siren Ventilators in Desert Sage from Fitness Footwear Ltd..

Like BG! I have actively tried to avoid any footwear with the word 'trainers' in the description for the last 30 years. I am not so out of touch that I haven't noticed that things have moved on in design terms from the last pair that I owned (dreadful plasticky, black and yellow Gola trainers only bought because the school PE kit list demanded them), but having seen my children's feet suffer whenever  I have foolishly bought them trainers that hadn't been fitted at Clarks - I was reluctant.

Fortunately I was pleasantly surprised when I first tried these on. They felt firm and supportive but they were not crushing my E width-fitting feet.  I will say that due to the curved footbed, if you are exactly a size 4 rather than just a bit longer than a 3 and a half like myself, I would probably go up a size. I have less room beyond my toes in these than I do in a normal size 4, but they are really comfortable.

 

 

As you can see from the picture, they may not make it into a Gok Wan top ten list of stylish footwear, but when I asked my highly critical 15 year old daughter if they looked OK with my jeans and shirt, she said they were OK and was more concerned about me not wearing a belt over the shirt.... Apparently it would have shown off my 'not-so-tiny' waist! Personally I think that they look good, so far I have worn them at the gym, shopping, on a country walk and on an evening out when the dress-code was smart casual and they haven't drawn any unwelcome attention in any of those situations. I am going to get a lot of wear out of these.

So, how do they perform technically?  Well I wore them for an hour's work-out down the gym on a day so hot that they had almost all of the doors open and the fans going. I was sure of my footing through all of the lunges, step-ups etc and they didn't affect my unimpressive performances on the rowing machine or the cross-trainer.  I'm not a naturally athletic person and I guess there must be footwear specifically designed for this type of indoor exercise, but these trainers either helped or did not impede my exercises. It was good that the grip did not make it difficult to do the stretching exercises at the end, in other footwear I have had to go barefoot. I foolishly did not wear any socks, but apart from some very slight soreness on the heels, my feet were fine - not bad seeing as they had only been out the box for 3 hours.

Later that day we went for a couple of hours walk around Croft Hill. This time socks were worn, and by the end of the walk the socks were damp, but the inside of the trainers were dry - they weren't joking about the ventilator bit, it is very efficient. They felt like a more protective version of my walking sandals, very light but much more support for my feet. Obviously on a slope there is no ankle protection so I had to be more careful about my footing, but in the dry the grip is secure. Now in very hot weather or when I am pregnant, my feet swell up at the end of the day so I had to remove the trainers in the evening after the walk as they were too tight on my little toes, but the good news was that nobody complained about the smell. The anti-odour treatment was doing it's job.

So in summary, these are good all-round trainers and will definitely be packed on my next summer business trip. I may even get round to using them in a hotel gym instead of just going for a evening walk and then "resting" in the hotel bar.

If you're interested in laying your hands on some Merrells, have a look at the sale items here.

Review – Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams – First Thoughts

Posted by on July 14th 2010 in My reviews, New tricks for an old dog, Shiny new kit

So, down to the preliminary review of the contents of Package 2 - a pair of Merrell Chameleon Wrap Slams from Fitness Footwear Ltd..

I'd opted for the Army Green and Black version, on the basis that it would be a fairly neutral colour-scheme, nothing too flash. I mean, this is the first pair of trainer-type shoes that I'd acquired during the last 30 years (aside from some "trendy" toe-tectors), so I didn't want to overdo it (I must admit to being tempted by the Charcoal and Red version, though). The first image below shows the things in general, but the colour is better-represented in the second pic:

 

 

With some trepidation I pulled them on over a pair of thin trainer-socks and was pleasantly surprised by the fit, as I'm usually hard to please when it comes to this sort of thing. The arch-support is just right, and that's important to me as I have "flexible flatfoot" - a condition that's never a problem unless I'm barefoot or in flat-soled footwear. The best thing about the fit, though, is the security - with significant padding around the heels and below the ankles these things grip onto my feet perfectly, there's no slipping and sliding around inside, it's almost as if they're glued on. The soles flex in just the right place and don't have excessive torsion, and at the moment they have impressive grip on all sorts of surfaces. My only minor gripe is the sizing - I've been a size 8  for a few decades now, but these feel more like a 7.5  - there wasn't as much space beyond the toes compared to the other 8s that I own. That said, I reckon that 9s would have been too big and I guess that I'm just between sizes for this brand/model.

Within the hour they were being used on another trip up and around Croft Hill in scorching weather (more on that later). OK, it's not a major expedition, but there's some variation of terrain and plenty of steep grass to contend with. After a few hours and a few miles, all still felt good - no sweatiness, nice and cool, and very comfy. I kept them on for the rest of that day, and wore them non-stop all the next day, and there's been no soreness or rubbing.

 

 

So, what would I use them for? I reckon I'd use them on long low walks in good-to-reasonable conditions, but I'd need to build up more confidence in them before committing to wearing them up on the higher and/or rougher Lakeland Fells. It's just that I'm used to proper boots rather than what some other folk would call "Jessiehikers". Maybe I need to make that leap of faith and just do it. Regarding how they fit into my collection of outdoors footwear, they neatly fill the gap between my Keen Newports and my AKU Croda GTXs (all of which reminds me that I need to update my gear page).

I do like them, in just a few days they've become the footwear of choice for the school-walk, trips to the shops and just general dossing. I'll give them a decent work-out over the summer and report back in due course.

If you're interested in laying your hands on some Merrells, have a look at the sale items here.

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