Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: light weight, traction, lacing system, antimicrobial lining, long lasting, breathable
Cons: minimal padding, lining is abrasive to thin socks
Best Uses: day hiking, light backpacking, trail to town, three season hiking
Our Best Buy award goes to the Merrell Siren Sport 2 hiking shoes for their light weight, durable construction, and simple design. Compared to the Top Pick and Editors' Choice winners, these shoes measure up! We found them comfortable while hiking short, easy hikes as well as while backpacking portions of the John Muir Trail.
These are one of the lowest priced hiking shoes in our women's hiking shoe review, at $95, and they offer many of the technical features of hiking shoes priced $120 and higher. They have durable Vibram soles, leather and mesh uppers, and, while not the most cushioned, they still manage to provide plenty of padding for comfort and lasting support. The removable insoles are antimicrobial and easy to wash when dirty. They have a simple design and are easy to keep clean.
These shoes are the Best Buy for women seeking comfort, support, and durability.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Merrell Siren Sport 2 are awarded the Best Buy for their durable Vibram soles, lasting support over many miles, abrasion resistant upper materials, and the inexpensive price, all while being one of the lightest hiking shoes in our review!
The Siren Sport 2 weigh just under 1.5 pounds. They are among the lightest three pairs of hiking shoes, with only the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh - Women's and the Salomon Ellipse GTX - Women's weighing fractions of an ounce less. Mesh integrated into the upper and lining and Ortholite anatomical foot beds keep the weight down. For long hikes or short hikes, it's hard to beat a lightweight shoe that also performs well with support and durability.
These rank among the most comfortable hiking shoes in our womens review. Compared side-by-side with the Merrell Moab Ventilator - Women's, it is obvious that the Siren Sports don't match up in regards to cushioning and padding, but they make up for it with comfortable Ortholite foot beds and a lighter weight. While testing the Sirens, we experienced ongoing comfort that lasted mile after mile. Qform Comfort midsoles add to the comfort and support. While padding and cushion is luxurious to hike in, we found that those details are not necessary for comfort while hiking. The minimal padding proved to be sufficient in keeping us comfortable, even after 25 miles of hiking in a single day.
Flexibility and firmness of a hiking shoe contribute to the overall support. These are not as flexible laterally as the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh, but they still provide enough flexibility for the foot to bend with some softness, without losing support. Straight out of the box, the soles are firm. This is an added degree of support but may lessen the initial comfort of the shoes. After a of couple outings on the trail, the soles soften significantly without losing their firmness for support. The firmness is comparable to the Salomon Ellipse GTX.
Under backpack weight of approximately 20 pounds, we were able to test the ankle support of these shoes. The 4.5 mm lug depth adds to the firmness of the sole. This depth and support protected our heels and supported our ankles. The cusp of the ankle is less padded than the Merrell Moab Ventilators but still provides a similar design and shape. We did not experience any weakness in the ankles with these shoes.
Like the Salomon Ellipse GTX, the Siren Sport 2 offers an average arch support, not overly pronounced and suitable for flat feet. For hikers in need of more arch support, an aftermarket footbed is an option. Hikers with flat to semi-moderate arches will appreciate the support provided by these shoes without feeling overly supported. Qform Comfort Midsoles are proprietary to Merrell; they are designed around women's anatomical needs for support in a hiking shoe. Women tend to roll their feet inward while hiking and Qform uses neutralizing padding in the midsoles to center and support the foot for more comfort while hiking. Padding is accentuated on the inner arch to assist the foot in an upright position and more padding reinforces this from the outer foot. This technology is also present in the Merrell Moab Ventilators.
The Omnifit lacing system is based at the midsole of the shoe to provide added support all the way around the foot. Leather and webbing eyelets alternate along the top of the foot. Webbing runs the lateral length of the tongue for lacing strength and adjustability. It is simple to adjust the laces according to terrain and personal preference. Having the ability to secure our feet with ease and comfort adds to the already incredible support.
The Merrell Siren Sport 2 has traction that rivals the more aggressive tread of the Salomon Ellipse GTX and Salomon X Ultra GTX - Women's. Vibram rubber soles are present in some of the best hiking shoes, only to be challenged by the Contagrip soles of Salomon hiking shoes. The grip and traction are notable on granite surfaces as well as steep, loose dirt and rock. While hiking on pebbles and rock shards, the Sirens kept us on our feet. In muddy conditions, the 4.5mm lug depth retained stability and traction.
Traveling and hiking in these shoes allowed the versatility to wear our hiking shoes in a variety of terrain, conditions, climates, and locations. We wore them on walks around the block and into town, as well as on long hikes, ascending peaks, and on backpacking trips. They remained comfortable and supportive under light pack weights. Traction and durability were not compromised when hiking on wet or dry terrain. The versatility was only out measured by the Salomon Ellipse GTX and the Salomon X Ultra GTX for their technical designs geared toward agile movement and hiking.
These shoes are not waterproof. They are offered in a waterproof model of both shoe and boot versions. They resisted water in shallow stream crossings and walking through puddles, but water deeper than 1-2" compromised the upper material's ability to keep the feet dry. Wet feet are an unpleasant scenario, but with the antimicrobial properties and easy to remove insoles, drying out and keeping bacteria at a minimum was easy. For higher water resistance, we recommend the Salomon Ellipse GTX and Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh hiking shoes. Both the Merrell Siren and Merrell Moab Ventilator did not provide significant water resistance, but both are also available in waterproof models.
Over the course of many months and many trail miles, we put these shoes to the test. They revealed a durable construction and long lasting support. Thick brush and loose scree trails did not abrade or tear the upper mesh and synthetic materials. The thick Vibram soles softened but did not lose their sturdy appeal or support. The lacing system remained fully intact and capable of providing security and support. While they are a lightweight hiking shoe, they are as durable as some light hiking boots. The strong materials do not add weight to the shoe yet they add a significant amount of durability for more than just one season of hiking.
Whether you favor a short day hike on moderate terrain or a long distance, light backpacking trip across hundreds of miles of the Sierra Nevada, these hiking shoes are versatile enough for your trail adventures. They have a low profile design that is subtly colored. These simple design details allow them to be worn in the woods and in town. We wore them in a variety of conditions across all three hiking seasons. (Lucky you if you get a fourth hiking season- winter- most of us are graced with pleasant hiking only in spring, summer, and fall). The traction manages spring mud and snow with ease. The semi-aggressive tread pattern maintains traction and support on unstable terrain, including loose dirt and pebbles. In the summer, they are breathable and lightweight to keep feet from getting hot and to avoid excess moisture leading to blisters. Unlike the Merrell Moab Ventilators with extra cushion and padding, the Merrell Siren Sport 2 do not provide insulating properties, but these shoes are suitable with thin or thick socks and continue to provide comfort and support during all three seasons.
These shoes earn our Best Buy award for hiking shoes. They have Vibram soles that offer better traction than most of the other hiking shoes in our review; the Salomon X Ultra and Salomon Ellipse both have more aggressive tread but are rated equal to the Merrell Siren Sport 2 in overall traction. The Siren Sport is durable enough to endure hundreds of miles of hiking in a season and are still going strong into the next hiking season. They offer similar support to hiking shoes that are priced $40 higher. For $95, these are an incredible deal for versatile hiking, durability, and support over many miles and multiple seasons.
These shoes are sturdy, lightweight hiking shoes that are built to endure many miles of hiking. Only the Merrell Moab Ventilator - Women's can be found for a lower price, but they are not able to deliver the level of support and durability that the Siren Sport does. Our Best Buy awarded hiking shoes offer many of the technical features of more expensive hiking shoe, yet remain affordable.
The Siren Sport 2 Waterproof is the same version as the shoe reviewed, but is waterproof. The Siren Sport 2 Mid is the boot version of this shoe, while the Siren 2 Waterproof Mid Leather, $135, are the mid and waterproof version. Both the regular and waterproof versions also come in wide width. models.
— Briana Valorosi
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Most recent review: September 10, 2014
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