Merrell ColdPack Ice Review Facts
It seems a bit like the casual runner is spoiled these days, what with the wide selection of running shoes and accessories they can choose from. Thanks to the hard work of high-profile manufacturers such as Nike, Adidas, and Reebok, people have a nearly limitless supply of running shoes they can choose from in a wide variety of styles and with a vast range of features. Where these options become narrower and more limited involves the popular pastime of trail running, a potentially dangerous form of off-road running that requires a completely different kind of running shoe. Customers won’t have as many options to choose from when trying to pick out a decent trail runner, with even fewer options available for winter running. However, Merrell has created a fantastic winter trail running shoe called the ColdPack Ice that should meet the needs of winter adventurers.
Perhaps the most important part of any trail running shoe is the outsole since it can mean the difference between a safe and satisfying trail run and a potentially life-threatening injury
. Merrell understands this pressing need and has designed the ColdPack Ice with an extremely well-functioning outsole. The Vibram material used for its treading is one of the sturdiest construction components used in modern footwear design and it has been arranged in a pattern that will ensure maximum grip and stability on even the most difficult to handle terrain. Known as Arctic Grip, this particular Vibram outsole design is intended to handle wet and slippery environments that are common during the winter time.
The use of EVA foam for the midsole of the Merrell
ColdPack Ice is a predictable choice, considering just how versatile this material is. EVA has become ubiquitous in the design of running shoe midsoles due to its incredible functionality at a competitively low weight. Thanks to its dense cushioning,
runners can strike the ground with all their strength and have this energy absorbed by their shoes. This stored energy is then explosively discharged in a manner that helps to drive the runner’s next step forward, providing an excellent degree of energy efficiency and responsiveness. Since these shoes are designed for running as much as they are for hiking, the inclusion of this common running shoe component is justified.
Although the Merrell ColdPack Ice has a very impressive lower half, the upper portion completely overshadows it in terms of sheer build quality. This portion of these trail running shoes has been made from full grain leather, making them incredibly resilient, heat insulating
, and fashionable. The use of this material also helps to protect the wearer from moisture, as does the waterproof internal lining. The insides of these trail running shoes also feature an EVA footbed, providing additional support and responsiveness that works well in conjunction with the ColdPack Ice’s EVA midsole.
Because trail running shoes are required and expected to offer a higher level of protection and durability, it should come as no surprise that they tend to weigh more than the typical running shoe on average. However, the Merrell ColdPack Ice pushes this envelope of acceptable shoe weight about as far as it can go with an incredibly hefty weight of one pound, thirteen ounces. This extra weight does come to good use, as it is responsible for ensuring the wearer’s feet are kept warm and dry
while safely running across a frozen trail. However, wearing these shoes for an extended period of time is bound to result in sore calves due to this design feature.
The nature of this trail runner’s design means that breathability was not a priority in its construction. This is evident by the full-grain leather upper that also sports internal waterproofing. While these features perform excellently in their duty of keeping external moisture from leaking inside the Merrell ColdPack Ice, they don’t offer much internal moisture management if the wearer’s feet start sweating from the warmth. Because of this, these shoes shouldn’t be worn in warmer climates. This should go without saying, considering every aspect of this shoe’s design
is intended for winter running, but it’s worth mentioning regardless.
Another benefit to this shoe’s leather upper is that it feels soft to the touch and does a fantastic job retaining heat. Because of this, runners wearing the ColdPack Ice have remarked that it feels exceptionally comfortable on their feet. This feeling is reinforced by the use of an internal EVA footbed, providing just a bit more comfort and support for the wearer’s underfoot. Something that can take away from this Merrell trail shoe’s overall comfort
is the fact that it weighs so much; it also doesn’t feel quite as nice if the wearer is in a warmer locale. However, these few negatives are far outweighed by the positives experienced in these excellent trail runners.
Usually, style doesn’t play a major role in the design of a pair of trail running shoes. Implementing a fashionable aesthetic is a more common practice for casual running shoes since these can often double as streetwear. The Merrell ColdPack Ice is understandably subdued in terms of style, considering that their primary purpose is to accommodate treacherous running situations. However, this decreased emphasis on an ostentatious visual design ends up working in the ColdPack Ice’s favor, as it manages to provide a very pleasing appearance
. In particular, the full leather upper contributes the most to this aspect.
A trail shoe is meant to last an incredibly long time functioning in some of the harshest running environments. Because of this, durability is a major focus. Fortunately, Merrell stressed this aspect of the ColdPack Ice’s design by ensuring that they are hardy and resilient to all manners of hazards. From top to bottom, this shoe is capable of handling hundreds of miles in the rain, sleet, or snow. In addition to the sturdy Vibram Arctic Grip outsole that contributes greatly to the underfoot’s resilience, the all leather upper provides comparatively impressive durability while helping to prevent water accumulation and damage.
In addition to ensuring an impressively long lifespan, the many durability-based design features of the Merrell ColdPack Ice provide protective benefits as well. As has been previously mentioned, the full-grain leather upper provides protection from water, working beautifully in conjunction with the waterproof internal lining. The soles inside these shoes are also protective, with an EVA footbed that enhances the ability for the EVA midsole to absorb shock and prevent stress injuries. Perhaps the most important and impressive protective feature offered by these trail shoes is the outsole, with it’s Vibram Arctic Grip design that protects the wearer from nasty falls.
The common practice for designing just about every kind of athletic footwear is to implement compressed EVA foam for the midsole. The purpose of this inclusion in shoes like the Merrell ColdPack Ice is to provide support and a high level of responsiveness. This positive benefit is present in these trail shoes thanks to their inclusion; however, they aren’t as responsive as one might expect. This has mostly to do with the unwieldy weight of these shoes, making it extremely difficult to notice any sort of responsive feedback. This shouldn’t be a dealbreaker for most trail runners since this lack of a feature is compensated for with a plethora of benefits.
Due to the inclusion of EVA foam for this trail running shoe’s midsole, wearers should expect a decent to the average level of support for their arch and underfoot. No extra features have been added to this shoe’s design for the purpose of providing extra midfoot or rear foot support; in fact, some wearers who are more acclimated to traditional running shoes may experience some initial discomfort due to the lower heel drop. Fortunately, the high-quality construction and materials used for the Merrell ColdPack Ice allow it to provide the level of support needed for a serious trail running session, despite the absence of these features.
The Merrell ColdPack Ice is designed to handle all of the common trail running terrains. Although the Vibram Arctic Grip outsole was intended for high performance in icy environments, they’re still compatible with the non-icy terrain. However, due to an increased emphasis on insulation and waterproofing, it may not be a good idea to use these shoes in warmer locales. In addition to its excellently designed outsole, the secret to the ColdPack Ice’s ability to handle harsh terrain lies in its weight and overall durability. Without either of these design attributes, the design work that went into the Vibram outsole would have been squandered.
The cost for a pair of these shoes can vary significantly depending on what size and color the customer chooses. The benefit to the Merrell ColdPack Ice being on the market for a long time is that this cost is competitively low: far lower than the average trail runner. The unfortunate downside of this is the fact that certain sizes and colorways are much more difficult to find. However, those who are able to find the right version of this product will be pleasantly surprised at just how versatile and well-built it is for such a reasonable price.
Merrell understands that traction is paramount to a safe and high-quality trail running shoe, which is why they put significant design emphasis and resources into perfecting their outsole. Vibram is already a reputable material for its durability and traction, so adding the Arctic Grip functionality pushes it from good to great. The higher than average weight also contributes to the ColdPack Ice’s grip, since it keeps the wearer grounded during each step. Runners can hit the trails with their full strength without the fear of losing their footing and sustaining a nasty injury as a result.
The Merrell ColdPack Ice is not a very flexible trail runner. A small amount of give can be felt on the upper due to its leather construction, but not to nearly the same degree as a shoe made from synthetic mesh or knit fabric. The same can be said for the midsole; EVA foam normally allows for a comfortable amount of flexibility, but the overwhelming presence of padding heavily restricts this feature. Still, enough give can be felt in these shoes that they don’t feel extremely uncomfortable while they are worn.
In lieu of providing flexibility, Merrell decided to design the ColdPack Ice with emphasis on stability. The wearer of these trail running shoes will feel in complete control of every step and can attack the trails with everything they’ve got because of this. A heavier weight up top with snug internal layering and an exceptionally designed Vibram outsole makes these the ultimate winter stability shoe.
Although little information can be found online regarding the exact difference in elevation between the heel and toes of the ColdPack Ice’s midsole, a visual approximation would place it somewhere between a casual runner and a completely flat road shoe. This height difference of roughly four to five millimeters may not sound significant, but the difference in feeling it provides while these shoes are worn is major. The extra heel padding provides greater comfort and protection to heel strikers and the thinner forefoot helps with grip and control.
- Vibram Arctic Grip outsole provides extra traction on wet surfaces
- Full-grain leather upper is waterproof and highly durable
- Subdued design with two possible colorways
- EVA foam midsole and internal footbed
- Limited flexibility but excellent stability
- Neutral heel drop
The runner who would get the most out of the Merrell ColdPack Ice is one that lives in a colder climate and frequently encounters ice and puddles during their trail running sessions. Thanks to the insulation up top and sturdiness on the bottom, this is one of the best winter trail runners.