Merrell have been diversifying their product catalogue of late. Last year we looked at the Waterpro and now the Vapor comes along. Merrell certainly like to cater for those getting their feet wet, but are the Vapor worth a look in?
The concept of the Vapor is to take Merrell’s Air Cushion last, slap a Vibram sole on it, and then reach some EVA fingers round to keep it all on your foot. Basically, that is it. A sandal with a proper sole, but constructed entirely from materials that won’t soak up water. The “fingers” are laced with a single line of elastic, meaning that basically, once you have the shoe comfortably adjusted to your foot, you can slip it on an off, rather like a plastic slipper.
Obviously, the EVA uppers don’t provide the same level of cushioning as a fabric and foam shoe would, so for walking any distance, these will soon become uncomfortable as the shoe begins to rub – as might be the case for walking any real distance in flip-flops. However, the soles are worth extra comment – you really can feel the cushioning and the Vibram sole means that these are super grippy, even in the wet. So these shoes are really at home clambering in and out of the water, over rocks, on the deck of boats or other watercraft.
If you are in a fine climate, then these are ideal for launching boats, or sailing in smaller craft, much better suited than a sandal or flip-flop alternative. Of course, you need to remember to put some suncream on your feet, or you’ll have stripy feet at the end of the day.
Let us drift back to that lacing. Yes, it is very efficient at keeping the shoe on your foot, but it also raises the biggest problem that we found. The eyelets, or rather anchor-points for the laces are plastic tags and are a little too lightweight for our liking. In one swift removal of the shoe, we managed to snap one of these anchor points, essentially rendering the shoe unwearable (see image). It’s a shame, as they can’t be fixed and represents a weakspot on an otherwise great shoe, and that is represented in the score.
If you are on the waterfront and need some dedicated footwear, and what the comfort, stability and reliability of Merrell’s Air Cushion and Vibram sole, then this is a great shoe. Just be careful when pulling them on or taking them off – those lace anchors could break too easily.