Review by: retro, 2009-04-06
I bought these shoes when they had just come out and I am just amazed at how comfortaly they fit out of the box, how quickly they broke in (slight break-in period), and how well they seem to work on all situations. My feet are very wide, full volume with a relatively high arch. Not many shoes on the market fit these flippers, but the Merlins slid on like a sock!
I had heard some less than positive reviews about the Acopa rubber, but after three seasons, I really find no credence to their claims. The rubber has worn well, sticks to granite like glue, and smears relatively well on slabby terrain.
These shoes are a fantastic trad shoe, but I find that they really excel on the steep faces and thin cracks. They hold and edge remarkably well and the shape of the shoe is neither too stiff (that you lose sensitiveity) nor too soft (so that the toes begin to ache) allowing the climber to feel the subtleties of the stone while offering the support to actually use the edges. The design in aggressive, but not radically so, so you don't feel the need to rip them off your feet at the end of every pain filled pitch. These Acopas do live up to the company Logo, and then some.
I did experience some minor delamination in both the rands (near the big toe), and two small blisters at the very tip of the toe. I notified John of this and he said "send them back and we will get you a new pair". I asked him if there was anything I could do to remedy the problem and he sent me a step-by-step outline on how to repair them myself...with a not attached saying..."if this doesn't do the trick, I have a new pair here in your size"! Oh...one other thing is the blue dye that is used in these shoes will stain your feet a lovely shade of cobalt...probably for the duration of the shoe. Mine are three years old and still dye my feet blue on those long hot days. Not a deterant by any means, but just be prepared for it before you throw on the sandals before dinner!!!
I didn't want to part with these shoes as they felt like a second skin and I had spent the better part of a season on them. Well, the barge glue has held, and I am on my third season with these shoes. I have done pretty much everything but boulder in them (and have never used them indoors). They have been stuffed in cracks, have smeared steep NH slab, been pressed on dime sized edges, and have been worn on multi-pitch routes with never a need to take them off...a quick pull of the laces is enough to reduce whatever tightness one might experience.
I like the performance that a full lace up shoe gives you not only in the fit and feel, but in the performance. These are not only a great all around shoe, but a solid performer when you are inclined to push it a little bit. To be able to take your game to the next level and do it in comfort is truly a remarkable concept...wish I had heard about this company sooner. Add the Merlin to your quiver and you won't be dissappointed.