The Merrell Polarand Rove Zip Waterproof is a slip on boot that uses a full height side zipper to allow easier on and off access. This boot is one of the more attractive and fashionable ones in this review, making it a good choice for wearing around town or out to the bars on a snowy night. While the zipper did make it slightly easier to use, the effect of this design feature was unfortunately negative as it allowed water to leak in, and was also an easy entrance point for cold as well. After the final tally of the scores derived from comparison testing, the Polarand Rove Zip Waterproof was the lowest scorer in this year's test, and at a price tag of $160, we would recommend looking for another boot first.
Merrell Polarand Rove Zip Review
Cons: Not very warm or waterproof, boxy fit
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Rove Zip Waterproof is a slip on boot similar in design to the Bogs Classic Ultra Mid and the Columbia Bugaboot II Slip On. Differing from those boots though, it has a full height side zip that makes it easier to put on, but doesn't do anything to tighten or adjust the fit of the boot. While we wore it plenty of days in the snow around town, we enjoyed it less than its other two close competitors.
It is simply not as waterproof or as warm as the Bogs boot, and its very square construction was a bit constricting on our forefoot while at the same time super loose around the ankle and heel, offering a much less snug fit than the Bugaboot II Slip On. It is also the shortest of the three, meaning that snow had a far easier time overflowing the top of the boot to annoyingly trickle down to our feet. The final deal breaker is the price. At $160, it is $30-$60 more expensive than the other two slip-ons we tested for this review, and as the lowest scoring of the bunch, is not worth that much extra money.
In our ice bucket test, we were able to easily discern that this was not a very warm boot. Trying it immediately after the Columbia II Slip On, it was obvious that this one did less to trap the warmth inside, and didn't even compare to the warmest boots in this review, like The North Face Chilkat 400. We found that cold crept in through the insides of the feet near the heels, exactly where the zippered opening is at. A thin flap of 200g Thinsulate insulated material serves as a backing to this zipper, protecting the inside of the leg from cold drafts, but it is clear to us that this flap wasn't up to the challenge. The end result is that this was the least warm boot that we tested. 4 out of 10 possible points for warmth.
While the zippered opening on the side of the boot proved to be the weakest link for trapping warmth, it also proved to be the point at which water was able to enter this boot. After our ice bucket test, we found that water had trickled in through each of the side zippers, soaking the insulated backer flap behind, but only a trace of dampness could be found on the inside of the boot. We measured that the maximum puddle depth before leakage as 3 in., slightly less than the Kamik NationPlus, and realistically probably enough for most people during winter. That said, in comparison to the other boots, we could only award 4 points out of 10.
Fit and Comfort
The fit of this boot is a little bit odd, and in our opinion isn't quite shaped like a foot is. While we thought the length was fine for our street shoe size, we noticed that the boot is shaped like a rectangle with a rounded over toe box. The result of having these totally straight sides was constriction in our forefoot, while at the same time our heel and ankle was totally loose, able to freely move up and down as we walked, or even side to side. In terms of comfort, we liked the fleece lining on the inside, and thought that the boot was reasonably comfortable. We spent a lot of time walking around town on ice and slush in this boot, but wouldn't want to take it for a hike. For that we would prefer something like the Vasque Snowburban II UltraDry. 7 out of 10 points.
Ease of Use
With the side zipper unzipped, it is easy to slide a foot right into this boot. There is no pull tab on the back to help with this process, but it really isn't needed, as the extra wide opening eliminates the constriction at the ankle that the foot must pass through. The fleece lining isn't as smooth as the neoprene liner of the Bogs Classic Ultra Mid, but didn't grip and hold the foot like the Bugaboot II Slip On. Overall it was the second easiest boot to slide on and off at a whim, and we gave it 9 out of 10 points for ease of use.
The Merrell Select Ice Grip outsole on this boot is arranged into a pattern of cross shapes in the middle with larger deep lugs on the edges of the boot. We thought it did a decent job of gripping the ice and hardpacked snow, better than its other two slip on boot counterparts. We thought it was about as effective as the Columbia Bugaboot Plus III Omni-Heat, and gave it 7 out of 10 possible points.
Like the rest of the slip on boot genre, these boots are designed for simple around town or around the house use in the winter. They make a good choice for heading out on the town when you still need winter boots. We wouldn't consider them for hiking or snowshoeing.
These boots have an MSRP of $160. This is around average for this review, but is quite a bit more expensive than the other two slip on boots we tested, both of which finished with a higher score in our comparative tests. While most will probably be happy with this purchase, we don't think that they present a great value compared to the rest of the boots in this review.
The Merrell Polarand Rove Zip Waterproof is unfortunately not very waterproof, and is also not too warm. It scored at or near the bottom of both of these tests, two critical areas of importance for a winter boot. We thought these were the least effective winter boots that we tested, and would recommend the reader to look at other options first before pulling the trigger on a purchase of these boots.
Merrell Polarand Rove Waterproof
- Cost: $160
- A lace up boot that is similar in look and design to this slip-on
- Significantly lower shaft height
Merrell Polarand Rove Moc Waterproof
- Cost: $120
- A winter moccasin that is slip on, with a very low cut below the ankle
- Insulated and waterproof
— Andy Wellman