A brand new lightweight hiker from Merrell, the Zion comes in a shoe and boot version, both with Gore-Tex waterproofing. On test is the mid boot.
First impressions are that the Zion Mid is every bit the lightweight hiking boot. At 816g per pair these feel almost impossibly light in the hands and that translates to a trainer like feeling - at least in terms of weight - on the feet.
The upper is constructed of a mix of ballistic mesh and leather. Ballistic mesh is very durable but still lightweight and the leather is full grain so high quality and adds a touch of class without too much weight. Adding to the durability is a thick rubber rand up front to protect against scuffs and scrapes from rocks.
The lacing system is pretty standard, and the lightweight nature of the construction means that it's easy to cinch the material in over the individual contours of your feet. Having said that the lacing doesn't extend particularly far down towards the toes and the toe box is roomy. This allows your toes to splay naturally but, in this case, it would be nice to have a way of reducing the volume for those with narrower feet. Despite the wide fit the Zion does a good job of holding the ankle in place without heel slip so for everyday walking these are blister free boots.
Underneath your feet is a fair chunk of EVA foam, cushioning you from the ground. This works in all the right ways, being both comfortable and responsive. The insole is flimsy, thin and not really fit for purpose so is best discarded and replaced with an aftermarket job if you're considering putting the Zion Mid through its paces with backpacking and mountain walks though.
Traction is guaranteed by the Vibram MegaGrip outsole, one of our favoured rubber compounds. It offers a fair balance between grip on mud and greasy, slick surfaces like rocks and roots. The lug pattern is deep at 5mm but widely spaced, which is good for shedding deep claggy mud like we seem to get a lot of in the UK in winter.
For a lightweight hiking boot stability is really good thanks to a flexplate - a plate in the outsole which makes it more rigid - and the sheer depth of EVA foam. The inclusion of leather in the upper no doubt helps in this department as well.
Overall the Zion Mid is a really well put together boot. As with any walking boot the fit won't suit everyone but it's worth being aware that these are quite spacious in the toe box and the sizing comes up a little larger than the usual Merrell fit.
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