Merrell Enoki Review
Cons: Not sturdy, straps are slightly abrasive
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Merrell Enoki is an adorable and lightweight summer sandal, but not necessarily a shoe that is recommended for long days or trail use. Online reviews of this shoe were primarily positive as the overwhelming majority of reviewers were only using this sandal for city use. The footbed of the Enoki is unique because it has a "minimal" feel to it; its heel is low to the ground and the sandal itself is very light weight and flexible. It has a removable heel strap that converts the sandal in to a flip-flop, a clever feature that was unique to this model.
Testers didn't find the Enoki terribly comfortable for several reasons. First of all, it has no arch support and the the underside of the straps was rather scratchy. Most testers had a love/hate relationship with the thin foot straps. The dainty little things gave the shoe a feminine, attractive look that was perfect for summer wear, but in terms of off-road travel, they weren't helpful. Their thinness didn't disperse pressure well throughout the top of the foot and became uncomfortable with continuous uphill or downhill hiking. The Enoki only comes in whole sizes. For half sizes we recommend sizing up.
We were impressed by the decent traction of the sandal. It wasn't one of the top performers, but testers felt comfortable maneuvering about on wet terrain as long as it wasn't too steep. The more limiting factor on adventurous terrain than the traction of the Enoki was by far its thin straps and lack of overall stability.
If you're looking for a sandal with good stability, the Enoki is not for you. Don't even think about carrying a pack - or a heavy purse for that matter - while wearing these little guys as they really have no support. The characteristics of the sole of the Enoki paired with its thin straps make this sandal rather awkward on adventurous terrain, so we limited our recommended uses to primarily just urban travel.
First things first, the best feature of the Enoki is its looks. As a result, we gave the Enoki high remarks for style. It has a flirty, feminine look that we immediately loved, and it comes in great summer colors. Its petite straps lean a little closer to fashionable than functional, but for a casual ladies' night or errands during the day, we didn't mind so much.
The adjustability of the Enoki's straps was simple, but not entirely effective. The straps could not be adjusted in such a way that your foot wouldn't slide forward while going downhill. There just wasn't enough friction on the footbed to keep your foot in place and the skinny straps didn't help. On a separate note, this sandal was the only one that we tested that had a removable heel strap which converted the sandal into a flip flop.
We loved the idea of this added perk, however the heel strap opened up whenever it got wet or if all of the Velcro wasn't perfectly aligned. Due to the thinness of the sandal's straps, there is a very small amount of Velcro on each strap, therefore all of it must be overlapped or the heel strap will give out. One squat or high step could be enough to detach the Velcro if not completely overlapped. This problem resulted in more points being taken away from the adjustability factor of this shoe.
This final metric we used to evaluate the shoe resulted in some surprising results. Despite having tiny straps with only tiny strips of Velcro, the Enoki took nearly an hour to go from soaking wet to dry! Fortunately, the straps were so thin that they didn't feel clammy and the sandal still felt exceptionally light.
Testers thought the Merrell Enoki was best for flat, city terrain, and wouldn't recommend it for any kind of trail use.
We didn't think the Enoki was a great value at $75. Not because that seemed like an exceptional amount of money, but because of the limited use options for the shoe. No testers found the shoe comfortable enough that they wanted to wear it every day (even in urban settings), and for this conclusion we didn't want to watch $75 collect dust.
Overall, we felt that this sandal was perfectly good for very simple terrain like walking around the city. It wasn't comfortable enough to recommend off road or on steep terrain. Its 'convertible' option is clever, but if you don't anticipate using it then we would not recommend buying this sandal. Its removable strap is not particularly strong and we found that it frequently comes undone.
— Laura Lingeman