Columbia and Merrell are two great brands if you’re looking for affordable hiking shoes or boots. If you’re just starting to hike, these two companies can be a great introduction to this activity.
They also have more advanced products for experienced hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, of course, so we’re talking about two all-round companies when it comes to outdoor gear.
They’re both American and with very rich histories spanning decades of excellent designs and innovations.
Well, this is great! – you’d probably be thinking by now – but which of these brands should I choose? I just need only one pair of boots after all. Should I go with Columbia? Or look at Merrell’s collection?
These are the questions we’ll be trying to answer in this article. Read on to learn what we think!
- Columbia was founded in 1938 in Portland, Oregon, USA.
- For its hiking boots, Columbia uses Omni-Grip rubber outsoles; synthetic mesh, PU-coated leather, and suede leather for the uppers; Techlite EVA midsoles; Omni-Tech waterproof, breathable membrane; and polyester.
- Some of Columbia’s materials are recycled.
- Columbia produces mainly in Asia, with a small part in the USA.
- Columbia hiking shoes’ prices are affordable, from $70 to $150.
- Merrell was founded in 1981 in Waitsfield, Vermont, USA.
- Merrell, for its hiking footwear, uses Vibram outsoles; leather and mesh uppers; polyester and nylon textiles; M-Select Dry and Gore-Tex waterproof membranes; and Kinetic Fit insoles.
- Some of Merrell’s materials are recycled.
- Merrell produces mainly in Asia, with some products made in the USA.
- Merrell hiking boots’ prices are affordable but slightly higher than those of Columbia, from $60 to $200.
- We don’t think there’s a winner. Both brands offer many middle-end designs for the average hiker and a few high-end models.
- Try them on at a local store and see if they’re a good fit for you.
History of the Brand
Columbia‘s, roots trace back to 1938 when two German immigrants founded a small hat company in Portland, Oregon. Today, the brand, also known as Columbia Sportswear, remains a family-owned business, led by Tim Boyle, the son of Gert Boyle and nephew of the founders.
Columbia official website – Men’s hiking boots
Columbia’s commitment to constant improvement is evident in its motto, “It’s perfect, now make it better,” which guides its product design and business practices.
Despite being an internationally recognized brand, Columbia’s small family-owned company image makes it more trustworthy in the eyes of consumers.
While most major brands prioritize product quality, Columbia takes it a step further by extensively testing their products. To get a better idea of what we mean, we encourage you to watch their introductory video below.
Columbia’s captivating history and dedication to innovation make it a standout brand in the industry. So, if you’re looking for high-quality outdoor apparel and gear, look no further than Columbia.
Don’t miss: 9 Outdoor Brands like Columbia that We Love and Why
Materials and Manufacturing
Over the many decades of its history, Columbia has developed several of its own clothing technologies to enhance the weather resistance of its products. Some of these technologies include:
- Omni-Tech, a waterproof, breathable, and windproof membrane, that is also used in its hiking footwear;
- OutDry, a waterproof barrier, which heat-binds to the fabric and performs really well;
- Omni-Wick, a highly breathable technology that helps wick moisture away, and it’s ideal for high-intensity activities.
When considering the materials used, a significant part of the polyester in Columbia’s products is recycled, demonstrating the company’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact. In addition to polyester, the brand also uses nylon.
When it comes to hiking boots, a technology that bears mentioning is Omni-Grip, a rubber outsole formula that ensures stability, traction, and the perfect grip for any type of terrain. It keeps your foot in place and prevents you from sliding in all types of situations.
The uppers are usually made with synthetic mesh, PU-coated leather, and suede leather, depending on the type of shoe. The midsoles are made of Techlite EVA which is lightweight and offers great comfort and cushioning.
Must read: Columbia vs The North Face: Which Brand is Better?
Where are Columbia’s shoes and boots made?
Columbia’s footwear and other products are mainly made in Asian countries such as China, Bangladesh, India, and Vietnam. However, the company still makes some products in the USA. Check out this page to learn more.
Let’s now take a look at two popular hiking shoe designs by Columbia.
Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II Suede Waterproof Hiking Boot
Check it out at columbia.com
Crafted for comfort, protection, and style, the Newton Ridge Plus II is a sturdy and lightweight suede hiking boot. Its waterproof, seam-sealed construction ensures that rain and puddles won’t be a problem for you.
It’s made with Columbia’s most advanced technologies: Omni-Tech waterproof, breathable, and seam-sealed membrane; Techlite lightweight and comfortable midsole; and Omni-Grip rubber outsole.
Columbia Women’s Crestwood Waterproof Hiking Shoe
Check it out at columbia.com
Equipped with a midsole that provides excellent cushioning and high energy return, the Crestwood Hiking Shoe enables you to tackle those extra miles with ease.
It has a durable rubber outsole that offers excellent traction on any type of trail, and its waterproof Omni-Tech membrane ensures your feet stay dry even when it’s raining.
For those on a tight budget, Columbia is an affordable brand that offers a variety of reasonably priced products. Its hiking boots and shoes, for example, start at around $70-$80 and rarely go over $150.
Is Columbia’s hiking footwear worth the price?
If you read online reviews and customers’ feedback (check out this Reddit discussion), in general, Columbia’s hiking shoes don’t disappoint for the price you pay.
Of course, they’re not the best hiking boot out there, but they have a good quality-to-price ratio. For this reason, we say overall they’re worth it if you’re on a budget and don’t do extreme hikes.
Read also: Columbia vs Jack Wolfskin: Which Brand is Better?
History of the Brand
Image: Merrell hiking boots
Merrell, an American brand founded in 1981 in Waitsfield, Vermont, was the idea of Randy Merrell, Clark Matis, and John Schweizer. Randy brought his expertise in crafting boots and other footwear, while Clark and John contributed their knowledge and experience in skiing and outdoor activities.
The trio’s primary goal was to create a hiking boot that would deliver high performance while remaining affordable for the average buyer.
Over time, Merrell expanded its product line to include clothing and other accessories essential for outdoor activities. Despite its focus on footwear, Merrell has become a top choice for affordable yet high-quality clothing and footwear for nature enthusiasts.
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Materials and Manufacturing
Creating quality footwear requires both quality materials and expert craftsmanship, and Merrell delivers on both fronts.
Like Columbia, Merrell prioritizes sustainable production methods, ensuring that their shoes and boots are made to last, reducing their impact on the environment.
Merrell utilizes a range of synthetic and natural materials, including leather, polyester, and nylon textiles, often paired with breathable mesh linings.
The brand’s most renowned technology is the M-Select Dry, a waterproof membrane similar to Gore-Tex that allows for breathability while protecting your feet from the elements. For more rugged designs meant for harsher conditions and longer hikes, Gore-Tex is also utilized.
Merrell uses Vibram outsoles, a leading maker of high-quality soles, including the Arctic Grip sole and other specialized designs for challenging terrains. (learn more: 5 Types of Vibram Soles that You Should Know About)
Finally, Merrell shoes use Kinetic Fit insoles, providing excellent support for the heel and arch of your foot.
You might also like: Merrell vs Keen Hiking Shoes: Which Brand is Better?
Where are Merrell boots and shoes made?
Merrell has produced its shoes and boots in different countries over the years. Currently, the majority of Merrell’s footwear is manufactured in both the United States and Asia.
Here are two famous products by Merrell:
Merrell Men’s Moab 3 Mid Hiking Shoe
Check it out at merrell.com
A bestseller of the brand the Moab 3 hiking shoe comes with Vibram® TC5+ outsole for great traction, a breathable mesh upper, and a part of its materials being recycled.
Other features include a protective rubber heel and toe cap, and a Kinetic Fit ADVANCED removable footbed for cushioning and support.
Merrell Women’s Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot
Check it out at merrell.com
Similar to the men’s version above, this Moab 3 for women comes in a mid-cut version along with being waterproof thanks to its membrane that keeps water out. It also uses recycled materials and a Vibram TC5+ outsole.
Just like Columbia, Merrell is another affordable brand for hiking shoes. If we include discounts, its prices start at around $60 and can reach $200 for the more technical designs. So, it’s slightly more expensive than Columbia for its high-end footwear.
Is Merrell’s hiking footwear worth the price?
We think it is, especially if you get them on sale. They have a good quality-to-price ratio, in our opinion. In any case, at those prices, you get what you pay for. So, our suggestion is to try them on at a local store and see if they’re a good fit for you because the boot choice is very personal.
3. Which Brand is Better?
We don’t think there’s a winner this time. Both brands offer a wide variety of middle-end designs and the prices reflect that too.
And for the average hiker that’s fine: you can have some great experiences out in nature while wearing these brands and also save some money in the process.
Their boots and shoes also include many of the latest technologies like Vibram outsoles, waterproof membranes, Columbia Techlite midsoles, Merrell Kinetic Fit insoles, etc. And they have a few high-end models too.
So, again try them on in a local store to see if they suit your specific use.
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That’s all for this comparison! We’d love to read about your experiences with these two companies’ hiking boots in the comments.
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