I’ve never been a runner, but I do love walking. I’ll happily spend all day tromping around a city, walking through a park, hiking a forest trail, or wandering along the shoreline of a lake. Because the terrain I cover is so varied, I tend to look for shoes that are lightweight, grippy, breathable, good on a variety of surfaces, and quick-drying. Merrell’s All Out Blaze Sieve and All Out Blaze Aero Sport are two examples of high performance shoes that fit my requirements perfectly.
While these are two very different shoe styles–the Sieve is a slip-on sandal-style hiker while the Aero Sport is a lightweight mesh hiker–as part of the All Out Blaze Line they both share some key features:
• Vibram outsole
• UniFly midsole
• Antimicrobial M Select FRESH lining
While both shoes were comfortable to wear out of the box (no break-in required), I wore them around the house for the first few weeks. Mostly this was because there was still slush and ice on the ground at the time, but also because I like my multipurpose shoes to truly be multipurpose, including indoor use. Some hikers have lugs that are too aggressive or soles that are too inflexible for indoor use. Both All Out Blaze shoes passed with flying colors.
Next up, urban walking. Again, both shoes were more than up to the task. I alternated wearing them on treks like a nine mile day in downtown Toronto and the three-hour walk my wife and I try to take each weekend to the local market; I never felt fatigued and the mesh always kept my feet cool (even with lightweight socks).
When spring finally hit, I hit the trails as well. When hiking in hilly terrain with lots of rocks and tree roots both performed well. Both shoes have Vibram outsoles that flex nicely and are also grippy on both dry and wet surfaces. Both also have protective midsoles and toe caps, but the All Out Blaze Aero Sport were my favorites in the woods. Merrell says they provide a “glove-like fit” and they aren’t kidding. These do fit like a glove, and with slightly deeper lugs than the All Out Sieve I felt just a little more stable on rough ground. The Sieves are easier to slip on and off, but with the open elastic back they don’t offer quite the same degree of all-round support.
Speaking of wet surfaces, both the All Out Blaze Sieve and All Out Blaze Aero Sport dry quickly if you get a soaker, and both are designed to be worn in the water if a river or beach happen to get in the way.
If you’re looking for a lightweight, multipurpose hiking shoe, these two should be on your list. I’ve always had an excellent experience with Merrell gear, and, after six years of reviewing their shoes, I have yet to come across a pair I’m disappointed with.
Disclosure: Merrell supplied All Out Blaze Sieve and All Out Blaze Aero Sport shoes for the purposes of this review.