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Merrell Choprock Shandal Review

These shoes attempt to bring together the best of sandals and shoes, but end up highlighting the worst of each.
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Price:  $110 List | $76.73 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable, sandal-like drainage
Cons:  Uncomfortable seams, slippery on wet rock, super stiff
Manufacturer:   Merrell
By Dan Scott ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 19, 2019
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42
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 9
  • Comfort - 25% 4
  • Traction - 25% 5
  • Warmth - 15% 2
  • Versatility - 15% 4
  • Sensitivity - 10% 3
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Merrell Choprock Shandal features an aggressive tread and stiff-as-a-board midsole, but sandal-like uppers. Their deep, sharp lugs dig into dirt like claws, but provide very little surface area to stick to the rocks or logs that commonly line streams. They have some poorly placed and very abrasive seams that compromise comfort on bare feet. Their stiff soles provide almost no ground feel, and lack adjustability that would enable them to be worn with thick socks comfortably on colder days. While we get their appeal as hiking-oriented sandals, their combination of features feels awkward as water shoes.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $76.73 at REI
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$93.71 at Amazon$79.00 at Amazon
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$54.95 at REI
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Durable, sandal-like drainageExtremely versatile, adjustable, excellent balance of support and flexibilityHigh traction, flexible, snug fit, great drainageComfortable, warm, great traction on wet rockGood traction, very sensitive, sock-like feel, fun to swim in
Cons Uncomfortable seams, slippery on wet rock, super stiffNot the stickiest rubber, not the most durableNot warm, not durableLittle support on rough terrain, no drainageSlip off feet slighty when walking, uncomfortable in rough terrain
Bottom Line These shoes attempt to bring together the best of sandals and shoes, but end up highlighting the worst of each.These shoes are a jack-of-all trades that we feel confident using in practically any sport involving water.These kayaking shoes are top notch for their flexibility and traction, all at a bargain of a price.These water shoes check all the boxes for what we are looking for in a shoe to wear for long days on the river.The Kickers are great for kayaking or swimming, but not protective or secure enough for much else.
Rating Categories Merrell Choprock Shandal Astral TR1 Junction Astral Loyak NRS Paddle Wetshoe NRS Kicker Remix
Comfort (25%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
5
Traction (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Warmth (15%)
10
0
2
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
Versatility (15%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
3
10
0
3
Sensitivity (10%)
10
0
3
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Durability (10%)
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
3
10
0
6
10
0
6
Specs Merrell Choprock... Astral TR1 Junction Astral Loyak NRS Paddle Wetshoe NRS Kicker Remix
Measured Weight (per pair, in lbs) 1.7 lbs 1.6 lbs 1.1 lbs 1.9 lbs 1.8 lbs
Size Tested (US Men's) 12 13 13 12 12
Drainage Features Upper is mostly mesh and holes Front/side holes, top mesh Front/back/side holes, top mesh None None
Removeable Insole Yes Yes Yes No Insole No Insole
Available Widths Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Footwear Closure Elastic synch Lace Lace Zipper Pull-on/elastic synch
Upper Materials Synthetic, mesh, webbing Hydrophobic canvas with TPU Hydrophobic canvas and Airmesh 3 mm neoprene Neoprene
Midsole EVA EVA EVA None None
Outsole Vibram MegaGrip G15 Siped G15 Rubber Rubber
Relative Fit Medium toebox, medium volume midfoot and heel Wide toebox, high volume midfoot and heel Wide toebox, medium volume midfoot and heel Wide toebox, and stretches to accomodate a wide variety of foot shapes Wide toebox, and stretches to accomodate a wide variety of foot shapes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Like other closed-toed sandals, Choprock Shandals rely on large openings in the upper for drainage. Like aggressive trail running shoes, they have thick, aggressive lugs that seem designed for digging in on muddy trails. And, like burly hiking boots, they have a super stiff sole for support. These three things combine awkwardly to form a shoe that doesn't really perform well in most situations.

Performance Comparison


The Choprock Shandals come from a reputable company. We've loved lots of Merrell shoes and boots in the past  but struggled to find many redeeming qualities in this model.
The Choprock Shandals come from a reputable company. We've loved lots of Merrell shoes and boots in the past, but struggled to find many redeeming qualities in this model.

Comfort


As a sandal, you'd expect these to be comfortable with bare feet. Unfortunately, a thick, exposed seam running vertically down the heel rubs on bare feet. With socks, they are more comfortable, but unless you really dig the socks-with-sandals vibe of the Pacific Northwest, this is probably less than ideal.

With extremely stiff soles, we did find these shoes to protect our feet well. Walking along cobbles, we never felt like our feet were being squished or poked. In fact, we barely felt the ground at all. This diminished proprioception negatively impacted our balance and stability on rough surfaces. What we could feel was the sand and pebbles that worked their way under the insole through the holes in the upper, which were then difficult to remove without taking off the shoe and pulling out the insole.

While the interior of the Choprocks is uncomfortable  we really liked the protective rubber toe bumpers walking through streams.
While the interior of the Choprocks is uncomfortable, we really liked the protective rubber toe bumpers walking through streams.

These shoes lack a tongue, and the lacing does little to adjust the volume of the midfoot. As a result, it's very difficult to get a snug fit in these shoes without creating a crease where a tongue would otherwise be able to slide under the fabric of the uppers as the laces tighten up.

Traction


The Choprock Shandals performed extremely well on soft surfaces. The triangular lugs are around 1/4" deep and are very widely spaced, easily digging into even deep, slick mud.

While Vibram Megagrip is plenty sticky on wet rocks in our experience, the tread design of these shoes seemed to cripple them in terms of sticking to slick, hard surfaces. There just isn't enough rubber exposed to the rock to stick well. These worked acceptably well for creek walking but were more slippery than most shoes we tested on smooth, wet rock.

As you can see by the wet footprint of the Merrell Choprocks (left)  much less rubber actually contacts hard surfaces compared to other water shoes.
As you can see by the wet footprint of the Merrell Choprocks (left), much less rubber actually contacts hard surfaces compared to other water shoes.

Warmth


Shoes with large holes in their uppers are obviously not going to be warm on their own. That said, if they are adjustable, you might expect to be able to wear them with thick socks for warmth in cold water. However, the lack of a tongue or any significant degree of adjustability more or less rules that out with the Choprocks.

While you can remove the insole for more space, the rough material and numerous holes make it awkward to stuff a drysuit sock in these shoes while whitewater boating. If you regularly spend time in cold water, these probably won't be warm enough.

While we were able to just barely fit thick socks and drysocks into these shoes  they lack the adjustability necessary for decent warmth in cold conditions unless you size them up so far that they won't fit bare feet.
While we were able to just barely fit thick socks and drysocks into these shoes, they lack the adjustability necessary for decent warmth in cold conditions unless you size them up so far that they won't fit bare feet.

Versatility


While they seem like they could work for a few water sports, we don't see these sandals working well for much other than creek walking. For boating, they just aren't adjustable to handle variability in water temperature. For canyoneering, these don't provide nearly enough protection for the midfoot. While they might be ok for SUPing, they just aren't comfortable enough with bare feet.

That said, these would work acceptably well for rafting, where closed-toed sandals are often a nice upgrade over open-toed sandals. You may like them for hiking if you prefer thick, supportive soles but are looking for something with a bit better drainage.

These shoes hike alright  but their lack of performance on the water limit their versatility
These shoes hike alright, but their lack of performance on the water limit their versatility

Sensitivity


These shoes reminded us of stiff, burly hiking shoes in terms of sensitivity. While that's fine for long hikes, it inhibits proprioception, which can be key for maintaining balance when walking over uneven terrain.

The thick soles, aggressive lugs, and stiff midfoot all combine to make these shoes feel like bricks while swimming. This would be expected for a burly canyoneering boot, but these also lack the protection of a fully closed upper that might justify this kind of stiffness.

The Choprocks feel more like stiff hiking boots than most water shoes we've tested.
The Choprocks feel more like stiff hiking boots than most water shoes we've tested.

Durability


While these shoes didn't blow us away in other metrics, they are impressively tough. The construction is top notch, like many other Merrell products. Although the upper has a bunch of holes and mesh all over it, the reinforcement materials are thick and seem to take abuse well.

The aggressive lugs will likely wear down quickly, but with how thick they are, it will be a while before the outsoles wear down. The stiff sole and protective rubber rand also add to their durability.

Through mud and rocks  these are some pretty tough shandals.
Through mud and rocks, these are some pretty tough shandals.

Value


These shoes cost more than many higher-performing water shoes. While they might seem versatile, they sacrifice in too many metrics for us to consider them a good bargain. For only a little more, you can get shoes that are much more versatile, perform better in the water, and are much more comfortable. On top of that, you can get booties or kayaking shoes for much less that perform far better for boating.

Conclusion


The Merrell Choprock Shandals are an odd mix of features that our testers found don't work particularly well together. They are somewhat uncomfortable, lack the outsole surface area to stick to common surfaces found in wet environments, and don't have enough adjustability to work in cold environments. While they are somewhat unique in combining a sandal design with a burly, aggressive outsole, they just don't measure up to other water shoes we tested in most regards.

The Choprock  unfortunately  didn't live up to our high standards for water shoes.
The Choprock, unfortunately, didn't live up to our high standards for water shoes.


Dan Scott