We’re always looking for an edge. That’s what Special Forces guys do, anything that will make your job easier, or yourself a little more comfortable, that’s the ticket, right? And having a piece of equipment that works, is tough, comfortable and the troops like is like nirvana.
Like I said in an earlier piece, in Special Operations, your boots and your feet are your lifelines. Depending on where I’m going and what I’m doing, will have a lot to do with what boots I’ll be wearing. About 10 years ago, while working in Morocco, I had a follow-on job elsewhere in the desert-type area and I knew I’d be doing a lot of walking on rockier, rugged terrain.
One of my buds there recommended the Merrell Sawtooth and it was a good,… no great piece of advice. As soon as my job was done over there, I came home and ordered a second pair, which remains with me today.
Although these are discontinued, they can still be found here and there on-line, so while they’re dying off, they aren’t dead yet.
I’ve taken these hiking over rocky terrain from “Purgatory” here in Central Massachusetts to the White Mountains and Appalachian Trails of New Hampshire and in the desert rocky environments of the Middle East as well as Mexico. They are good in a woodland type environment, in the mud, see the pic of rucking on a rainy, muddy day below but are at their best in a desert, dry, rough environment.
Another point in selection criteria was the fact that these can blend in well in an urban casual environment and didn’t stand out as a military type boot. While that may not be a big point for many guys, sometimes when trying to be as low-key as possible, wearing military boots isn’t the preferred method.
The construction of them and the specs from Merrell are:
Strobel construction offers flexibility and comfort
• Nubuck leather and mesh upper
• Nubuck/Ballisticore Bellows tongue keeps debris out
• Breathable Mesh Lining maintains foot comfort by ventilating
• EVA removable footbed
Grade 7 Nylon Insole for trekking
• Compression-molded EVA foot frame provides cushioning
• Merrell® Air Cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
• 5.5mm Sole lug depth
• Vibram® Chisel Sole/Trek Rubber
• Weight: 2 lbs 14 ozs.
These are some really tough boots and they can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’. They’re constructed with the military type of guys in mind and are built to last. They have the rounded, protected toe cap and its held up remarkably well thru the years.
The tread is thick, wide and has incredible gripping power when traveling over rocky, uneven terrain. And after years of abuse, they look like brand new. They have outstanding ankle support, with it coming right in the spot you need it most.
As with most of Merrell’s boots, I’ve found that the sizing is about a ½ size too small, order up a half size and you’ll be good to go. These boots, unlike the MOAB require a break-in period. They’re stiff for the first 10-20 miles or so, especially right behind the toe, however, mine were worn going for a couple of hour hike with no blisters. Once they were broken in, they’re extremely comfortable.
One issue with the boots is they’re prone to leak a bit when in a wet environment. I put some waterproofing on them and although it interferes with the breathing of them, in the northeast, it isn’t as big of a deal with the cooler temps and the water has stayed out.
I’m still up in the air over the footbeds provided by Merrell. Many people have complained about them having much too little cushioning. I’ve found that it wasn’t a problem for me, however, like I do with many other boots, I’ve added a heel cushion pad in them and never have a problem.
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I’ve seen several complaints from guys who’ve had trouble with the eyelets and those coming off and getting ripped out when lacing the boots tightly. Again, I’ve never had that problem with both pairs I’ve owned. I’m not saying those problems don’t exist, but just that I haven’t experienced them.
Overall, I think these Merrell Sawtooths are outstanding boots. They’re the perfect blend of combat and hiking boots and will still give you the low-key look to blend into any casual environment. I wish Merrell would recommence manufacturing them although as I said, with a little digging they can still be found on-line in a few spots.
Since today is a rucking day with our SOFREP PT preparation program, it is almost time to strap them on, grab the ruck and head out in the rain this morning. Anyone up to going to “Purgatory”? Let’s roll…
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