This Merrell Freewheel Lace shoe review is both an initial review, and an update about 9 months into ownership. Feel free to read the whole thing, but if you just want to check out the updated portion then scroll on down to the bottom!
Why I initially picked these shoes last year
I recently moved to a big city where I’m more reliant on walking and public transportation than driving. I have a pair of Reef Deckhand 2 boat shoes that I’ve loved, but they get soggy in the rain and I wore through the sole in after a couple of weeks of heavy walking. So I needed a new pair of shoes.
I knew what I was looking for: shoes that can withstand heavy walking and a little biking in any weather. I want them to be casual and comfy enough for my style but also toned-down enough so that I can wear them to work without looking like I just finished a workout.
I instantly gravitated towards Merrell’s shoes. I’m an avid outdoorsman, and I’ve had the same pair of Merrell mid hiking boots for over a decade. I wanted that kind of reliability and durability in a shoe.
I decided on the Merrell Freewheel Lace in the Goose finish. On arrival, they were chunkier-looking than I expected. I immediately swapped out the round navy laces that were reminiscent of most camping footwear and swapped in a pair of flat white laces like you’d find on most sneakers. When I strapped them on, I couldn’t believe how comfortable they were compared to my old boat shoes.
How I felt after owning them for two weeks (rating 6/10)
- They are really comfortable, even if I’m putting on 5-10 miles in a day
- They hold up well in the rain
- My feet don’t overheat in the summer sun
- My wife really likes them
- I really dislike they way they look from above
That last point kills me. These shoes have so much going for them, but if you’re a golfer you’ll understand the idea of loving or hating how your club looks at address. Even if the club is perfectly fine, your feelings about the club “looking funny” when addressing the ball negatively impacts your ability to hit great shots consistently. It may sound silly at first, but psychological factors are still factors.
The toebox looks chunky from above (the view that only you get of your shoes), and every time I look at the shoes when I’m wearing them all that I can think of is a pair of Crocs. When did I turn into Mario Batali? I took a picture (below) and now even I think I’m crazy. I can’t see it in the picture, but when I glance at my shoes right now in person I can see it. Gah! Crocs!
I love almost everything else about these shoes. The Merrell Freewheel Lace was logically the correct decision, and I’m going to keep wearing them because of that. Even though I, illogically, despise how they look when I look down at them (except when I look at a photo of how they look). Maybe I’ll gain some weight so I can’t see my feet quite so easily. Or maybe I should just get over it.
How I feel now, after 9 months (rating 8/10)
These shoes are bombproof. It helps that I waxed them this past fall at the same time I was waxing my boots. They were water repellent when I got them, but now they are waterproof. They’re great for those slushy Chicago days when I want to wear sneakers into the office but I don’t want to deal with wet socks all day.
As you can see, the shoes ended up darker (as you’d imagine) so I threw the round navy laces on them that originally came with the shoes. At this point I treat them like comfortable, lightweight low-top boots. They’re still not the sexiest shoes I’ve ever owned, but they’re wonderfully utilitarian! The sole wear is also minimal compared to how many miles I’ve put on them.
It’s hard to get a picture of the luster they have now. They’re not dull any longer, they’re not glossy either, but they’re obviously waxed. Perhaps a better photographer than I could have captured that.
I’d buy these again. I like they way they look better than most technical hiking shoes, but they’ve held up just as well. The comfort, durability, & utility of these shoes over time is the reason I bumped my review up to an 8/10
They haven’t come down in price, probably due to the quality construction.
Merrell didn’t pay us for this review, nor did they give us free gear. If they had I would have told you, and you would be jealous. Hit us up on Twitter, Merrell!
If you’ve never waxed your old shoes or boots check out this video. Basically: Clean the leather, repair it if needed, saturate the leather with water, apply your wax (I used Nikwax, hence the video below), wipe off the excess, allow the boot/shoe to dry completely before use.
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