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-Perhaps one of the lightest hiking shoes in the market and definitely the lightest from Merrell, the Altalight hiking shoes feature a tear-resistant athletic upper with Stratafuse Exoskeleton - a lightweight durable cage that wraps the upper for support, structure, and protection.

-Built for rugged terrain, this shoe also features a sticky and durable mountain-grade Quantum Grip which provides enhanced grip and traction. With a lug depth of 5mm, the Merrell Altalight bites nicely to mud, loose dirt, and soft surfaces.

-This shoe also comes with the Merrell Air Cushion that promotes stability and keeps you surefooted on the trail.

The Merrell Altalight is a low-top hiker with a soft, smooth, and stretchy nylon ripstop upper that hugs the foot snugly and comfortably. Unique to this shoe is the Stratafuse Exoskeleton that provides a glove-like fit and lightweight support. It has a lightly padded tongue and collar and a pull loop at the back for easy on and off.

This hiker from Merrell also features a traditional lace-up closure for a secure fit. 

This shoe has an aggressive outsole with 5mm-deep lugs for enhanced grip and traction on rough, uneven surfaces. The pentagonal lugs are multidirectional - half of them facing upward and the other half, downward. This tread pattern increases the overall performance of the sole and helps prevent your feet from slipping. 

The Altalight sole is a propriety technology by Merrell. It features the mountain-grade Quantum Grip rubber compound that sticks nicely to varying surfaces. Since the lugs are fairly deep, you can confidently walk on mud, loose dirt, gravel, and even sand. While grippy outsoles such as this perform well on hard surfaces such as rocks and concrete, they can be a little uncomfortable for the feet. That's normal with hiking shoes that have deep lugs.

Another factor for its lightness is the EVA midsole. Ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) is a special type of foam that is known for its high bounce rate and shock-absorbing qualities. It's a durable material and at the same time, softer than rubber and PU. It makes a great and supportive cushioning system for lightweight hiking shoes. 

For added cushioning, the Altalight low-top hiking shoe comes with the Kinetic Fit BASE insole - another brand-exclusive insole solution designed to deliver intuitive and flexible support. This removable footbed also offers absolute arch coverage, advanced heel lock, and organic odor control. 

Designed for rough terrain, this hiking shoe boasts of a durable and abrasion-resistant nylon Ripstop upper. What makes Ripstop ideal for performance footwear is that it's highly resistant to tearing. This fabric is made using a special reinforcing technique that makes them super sturdy. Additionally, it has a favorable strength-to-weight ratio and small tears don't spread easily.

The smooth nylon Ripstop upper is reinforced by the Stratafuse exoskeleton that offers lightweight support and a glove-like fit. It's a sleeker, cleaner, and durable alternative to traditional overlays.

The Altalight hiker doesn't have a waterproof liner, which makes it highly breathable and more suitable for dry environments and warm climates. This shoe also features a bellows tongue that keeps debris out, a traditional lace-up closure for a customized fit, and the Merrell Air Cushion in the heel for shock absorption and added stability.

Merrell and Salomon are two of the most popular brands for hiking footwear. Both are known for their high-quality line of footwear products that cater to a wide range of hikers, including ultralight backpackers. The Altalight and X Ultra 3 are extra-lightweight shoes that feature durable uppers and aggressive outsoles. Here are their key differences.

Materials. While the Merrell Altalight has an upper made of nylon Ripstop, the Salomon X Ultra 3 is made of performance mesh which offers more breathability. Nonetheless, the Ripstop fabric delivers more abrasion-resistance.

Use. While both these shoes offer a good level of grip and traction on rough terrain, they have differently designed outsoles with specific features and advantages. The Salomon X Ultra 3 is more suitable for technical terrains where you will be doing a lot of descents. Thanks to its Descent Control technology, you can head downhill without stumbling or slipping. Meanwhile, the Altalight works really well on moderately challenging terrain where you will be traversing uneven ground. With such deep indentations, you can confidently walk on mud and loose dirt with ease. 

Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Paul loves adventure. Over the past 20 years, he has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He’s summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races. He has worked in the outdoor industry as a whitewater and hunting guide, gear tester, copywriter, and outfitting specialist at places like The National Outdoor Leadership School, No Barriers USA, and Sierra Trading Post. He has been quoted in NYMag, NBCNews, and Business Insider to name a few.

paul@runrepeat.com