Merrell Capra Glacial Ice

7.5
7.5 score
[Editors rating (7.5)] = Runnerclick score (7.5)/10

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Editor rating: 7.5 / 10
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Merrell Capra Glacial Ice Review Facts
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The Merrell Capra Glacial Ice hiking boot is billed as the “ideal winter shoe,” and after an in-depth look at its features, you’ll agree that for the most part this superlative is entirely accurate and well-deserved. This shoe offers lots of technology to keep you safe, warm, and dry for all your winter adventures. Here are just a few of its perks: Vibram® Polarice Grip™ outsole to give you excellent traction, Merrell Select™ DRY to help with breathability, and Merrell Select™ WARM and Conductor™ fleece lining for additional warmth. However, the shoe isn’t perfect as it’s not very durable at all, falling apart after only minimal use. The price is too high for the budget of many buyers and the concept of the Vibram® Polarice Grip™ is great, but users report that it doesn’t actually work on steep terrain. Keep reading to get the full scoop and to judge for yourself whether or not the Merrell Capra Glacial Ice is for you.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Merrell Select™ DRY keeps water out while letting moisture escape
  • Vibram® Polarice Grip™ outsole enhances traction
  • Merrell Select™ WARM and Conductor™ fleece lining provide extra warmth
  • Good support and protection from the Merrell air cushion in the heel
  • Nicely flexible
  • Great for walking on low-level terrain
Cons
  • Traction doesn’t hold up on intense terrain
  • Very expensive
  • Not at all durable
  • Boring color options
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The Vibram® Polarice Grip™ outsole supposedly gives you only the best traction on ice, even in the most extreme winter conditions. It’s similar to sandpaper and is supposed to be very grippy, providing up to three times more traction on icy surfaces than a standard rubber sole would. This outsole technology is made of a polymer blend and Vibram Icetrek rubber. The outsole has a lug depth of 4.5 mm, which, again, is meant to give you superior traction. It’s engineered to keep you going on wet and icy surfaces, so when you put on the Glacial Ice, you can rest assured that you’ll be safe.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The Artic Grip Sole is meant to provide extra traction—not to the point of replacing crampons, but certainly to the point of keeping you safe in all types of weather and on most kinds of terrain. A “thermochromatic lug” near the toe area changes from white to blue as the temperature approaches freezing point to indicate that the temperature is sufficiently low enough for ice to form—a nice idea, but one that might not be especially practical once you get out into the elements.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The upper of the Merrell Capra Glacial Ice is coated with leather. The lace closure is traditional: five reinforced lace holes and twin lugs. The shoe also has a metal D-ring at the toe section to help you fit gaiters. A bellows tongue helps to keep out unwanted debris, however, the tongue does not extend all the way to the top of the laces. The boot as a mid-height design and the fact that it comes up so high should help prevent water from splashing over the top and getting inside the shoe if you are walking in water. Overall, the upper package of this shoe is very well-done.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The weight of the Merrell Capra Glacial Ice is 3 lbs 4 oz for a men's pair and 2 lbs for women's. Hiking boots are chunky and sturdy by necessity, so although this weight seems high, it is standard. The Merrell Select™ WARM lightweight insulation helps keep you warm at the low bulk of just 200 grams. Reviewers have said they appreciate the fact that the shoe is lighter compared to similar hiking boots—some hiking boots are so clunky that they drag you down into exhaustion, but not the Glacial Ice.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

This shoe offers good breathability properties: Merrell Select™ DRY keeps water out while letting moisture escape. This means you will stay dry all throughout the winter. Testers have noticed, however, that when they wore thick socks with the boots, their feet became uncomfortably sweaty. Although a heavy sock is probably your go-to during the winter, try grabbing a lighter sock to pair with these boots if you want to take advantage of its breathability.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

The shoe features Merrell Select™ WARM lightweight insulation to make you feel warm and comfortable. The outer layer is coated leather combined with a waterproof membrane. The shoe also has a Conductor™ fleece lining inside for added warmth, plus a padded ankle cuff for extra comfort. In a winter hiking shoe, your greatest concern comfort-wise is whether or not the shoe will keep your foot comfortable and warm. With the Capra Glacial Ice, the answer is a resounding yes. The only concern here is that the mid-rise ankle has been reported to rub and cause ankle pain on steep climbs, and the inflexibility of the toe box has caused pain as well. If you are concerned about the shoe rubbing and causing pain, stick to flat ground while in the Glacial Ice. Be aware, too, that the shoe is very narrow and has not worked for many buyers who have wider feet. The shoe is comfortable as far as warmth goes, but otherwise, it has a few downfalls.
Style
Style

Style

Color options are scant: the men’s shoe comes in black and in something called “castle rock,” which is dark and light gray with orange/brown accents around the upper and top. The women’s shoe comes in black and has a dark purple upper. The Merrell Capra Glacial Ice isn’t very exciting; the color selections are dull and boring. But although the style options are plain, it’s probably also true that style isn’t your greatest concern when looking for a winter hiking boot.
Durability
Durability

Durability

Nearly every single review of the Merrell Capra Glacial Ice has said that the shoe was not very durable at all. It has been reported that the boots ripped around the toe area and that holes formed all over the shoe; still, other reviewers said that, despite the technology that is supposed to keep you dry, water got inside the shoes, which doesn’t help them last any longer. The outer layer seems thin and cheap. It seems that the Glacial Ice shoe falls apart after being worn only a small number of times, which leads one to consider whether the shoe is really worth buying.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The Merrell air cushion located in the heel advances the shock absorbing properties of this shoe, protecting you from twisting an ankle if you’re traversing on uneven and potentially snowy surfaces. The traction of the shoe is also meant to offer you good protection—the aggressive lugs are geared to protect you from slipping and sliding in snowy conditions—but the traction may not be all that Merrell has built it up to be, so beware. The Merrell even has a strong toe bumper to protect your toes from pain.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Merrell Capra Glacial Ice is a very responsive shoe. The fact that it’s so flexible, mostly due to the soft flex in the forefoot, is largely the reason that the rest of the shoe is so responsive. It’s also very lightweight, which helps as well, and the materials that the outsole and the midsole are made of are responsive and flexible.
Support
Support

Support

The shoe has great arch support because of the blended EVA contoured footbeds (which even provide organic odor control as an extra bonus!). Another great feature is the Merrell air cushion located in the heel. This offers you great support by absorbing shock, especially if you’re on uneven snowy terrain. Air pockets can hide in the snow, leaving you at risk of twisting an ankle—but with the good support from the footbeds and air cushion, you should be fine.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The Merrell Capra Glacial Ice is a winter hiking boot, so it is specifically designed for wet, icy, snowy, slushy, and slippery surfaces. You name the type of winter precipitation and the Glacial Ice can probably conquer it. This is primarily because of the Vibram® Polarice Grip™ and the aggressive lug pattern in the outsole that give you such good traction. You’re safe on uneven terrain, too, because of the air cushions in the heel area that gives you extra stability and protection. The entire Capra collection was inspired by mountain goats, so every part of the shoe is meant to help you climb, run, and leap across steep and slippery terrain, just like them. Testers have said that the shoe even works well on wet rock, which can’t be said for many hiking boots.
Price
Price

Price

The price of the Glacial Ice shoe is on the high side to begin with, and considering the fact that nearly every previous reviewer has reported the shoes falling apart after minimal use, the shoe seems to be grossly overpriced. If you’re dead set on trying this shoe, go for it, but it will probably be a better use of your money to wait and look for sales once the shoe has been out for a while.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The Capra Glacial Ice has excellent traction to keep you safe all winter long. On the outsole, the Vibram® Polarice Grip™ and the deep lugs help you grip the ground, even if you’re walking on slippery ice. The outsole (and the entire shoe) is specifically designed to help keep your adventures going all throughout the winter. Be aware, however, that many reviewers have been disappointed in the traction of this shoe. Theoretically, all of the technology should help you grip various types of surfaces—but in reality, this might not always play out, and you might end up being tied to flat terrain because of subpar traction.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The toe box is very inflexible and narrow, but the rest of the shoe provides adequate flexibility for a hiking boot. It has a soft flex in the forefoot that adds elements of both flexibility and comfort. The upper is very flexible, and while the outsole is a little stiffer, it’s not too bad. This Merrell hiking boot gets a solid check mark in the flexibility category.
Stability
Stability

Stability

In the heel area, a trademark Merrell air cushion adds an extra serving of stability. The boots have a small heel welt and a molded nylon arch shank, which is fairly rigid. Air cushioning in the sole absorbs shock if you should happen to be walking on churned-up ice or snow, so this feature keeps you stable as well. The overall sturdy structure of the shoe provides good stability.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The drop (the difference between the heel and the forefoot height) of the Merrell Capra Glacial Ice is not listed on any sites.
Key features
Key features

Key features

• The Vibram® Polarice Grip™ outsole is very grippy to provide good traction
• The upper is made with a bellows tongue to keep out debris and mid-height design to keep out water
• Merrell Select™ WARM technology and Conductor™ fleece lining work together to give you comfort and warmth
• Merrell air cushion (in the heel) and toe bumper deliver excellent protection
• Blended EVA contoured footbeds give you great support and stability
• Merrell Select™ DRY offers the shoe exceptional breathability
Bottom line
Bottom line

Bottom line

The Merrell Capra Glacial Ice is a shoe with many great concepts, but not all of these concepts translated well into reality. The Vibram® Polarice Grip™ outsole, meant to provide incomparable traction, fell short—although you’re safe on low-level terrain, reviewers were disappointed with the performance on anything more intense. The upper provides a strong package to keep you dry; Merrell Select™ DRY helps in this area as well while still letting your foot breathe. Perhaps the most important feature of a winter boot is whether it keeps you warm, and Merrell succeeded here with its Select™ WARM technology and Conductor™ fleece lining. But the boot is extremely expensive, and considering how short-lived it is, it may not be the best value for your money. In conclusion, it’s probably best to think of the Glacial Ice as the shoe for your low-intensity winter adventures.