The Crestbound is a supportive, yet flexible mid-height leather hiking boot for those who like a flexible boot with a little more support.
Mid height leather hiking boot.
Weight: 1.4kg / 3lb 3oz
Price: £160 RRP
After having reviewed the excellent, lightweight Merrell Grassbow, I found it to be a little lacking in support when hiking with a heavier pack through open ground and rougher terrain. The Crestbound is a mid-height leather boot. While it is still quite lightweight and flexible, it provides much greater support for camping trips when a heavier pack is needed.
The upper material is full grain leather. While this is heavier than lightweight fabrics, it repels water very well and is more durable. I find the “classic hiking boot” aesthetic of the leather more pleasing than the excessive clashing of different colours which has lately come to define technical footwear.
The boot eyelets are all metallic except the bottom two, providing a smooth cinch when lacing up. At the 7th and 8th eyelets, around the ankle joint there is a strong rubber and leather support which cinches in when the laces are tightened. This enables you to tighten the foot support, ankle support and tightness around the shin to different levels according to your comfort.
This reinforcement extends around the back of the boot to each side. I like to lace the ankle support much looser when relaxing around camp, tightening it up when heading off with a heavy pack or tackling heavy ground. The ankle cuff has a comfortable, soft foam fabric which gives firm support to the shin without cinching too tight or causing nipping.
The Crestbound also features a Gore-Tex liner which keeps out any water which might make its way past the leather upper.
The midsole uses Merrell’s Unifly technology with a moulded nylon arch. This makes for a flexible, yet supportive boot. The foot is held steady while also allowing it to flex naturally for a more comfortable gait. I’ve never had a problem with feeling rocks shock my feet through the soles as I have in the past with more minimalist footwear. The outsole is vibram and has provided good grip on both grassy and rocky terrains. The lugs are quite deep at around 5mm and the non-uniform pattern helps resist mud caking. The heel good deep lugs for braking when that downhill slope gets the better of you.
The tongue is gusseted to keep a proper seal and is very comfortable, made from a cushioned foam-like material. Even with the laces cinched in tight the padding from the tongue keeps the laces from putting too much pressure on your shins.
Small adaptations can make or break a piece of gear. The softer, pre-creased material in the middle of the tongue sits right where the front of the ankle flexes when you walk. The boot flexes more naturally as you walk much earlier on. The resistance from a stiff tongue is something which has slightly irritated me in the past with other boots such as the Scarpa Mistral, often only settling down when the boot is heavily worn from months of use.
Notice the C shaped eyelets mentioned earlier, these provide the independent cinching for the ankle area which allows you to fine tune the comfort of the boot.
There is a generous rubber rand (particularly high around the toe area) which extends right around the boot. The heel area is also protected by the leather ankle reinforcement. The reinforcement around the heel area does scratch very easily and quickly takes on quite a “weathered’ look. With the occasional wipe down and wax however it brings a little character to the boot. I’d sooner have those scratches on a reinforcing brace than on the main upper leather so it serves its purpose well.
The Crestbound wears in very quickly. Within a couple of walks the boot fit like a glove. Part of this may have been learning my comfort zone in terms of tightening the different areas of the boot. While the Crestbound is heavier and sturdier than the Grassbow, I haven’t found it to be unwieldy. The sole has been flexible enough to walk comfortably, while stiff enough to protect from the terrain underfoot.
Unlike a B2 like the Scarpa Manta, the Crestbound is comfortable enough to wear around camp without needing to bring something else to change into. Loosening up the laces works wonders for more comfort around camp and while it is not an insulated boot, I have found it to keep my feet warmer around camp than lightweight options such as the Grassbow.
The waterproofing has never let me down during river crossings and marshy peat bots. Breathability is good but not as good as the lighter fabric based Grassbow. For longer hikes or warmer weather, I usually wear a liner sock so any sweat buildup inside the boot can’t cause an issue. For hikes under 15 miles I usually just throw on a pair of mid-weight walking socks and give my feet a good chance to breathe when I get to camp.
I have found the boot very supportive with pack weights up to around 20 kilos.
These boots aren’t stiff enough to accommodate crampons, but hold a pair of YakTrax quite well if you’re expect a little coating of snow or ice in an otherwise green area.
The Crestbound is an excellent boot for all-round hillwalking, with a classic hiking boot aesthetic and great features / technology.
One Year Update
It has now been one year since I first laced up the Merrell Crestbound for a hike. The boots continue to perform well with good grip on wet grass and stone. The leather shank around the ankle shows wear more readily than the rest of the boot, however this is purely cosmetic. So far the boots are passing the endurance test.
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