The Merrell Choprock Water Shoe (excuse us, "Shandal") is built exactly like you would expect from a company whose primary focus is hiking boots. These hiker-focused water shoes are rugged, effective and ready for whatever terrain you throw at them.
With their quick pull bungee lacing system, these shoes were manufactured to wrap very tightly around the foot, providing one of the most snug fits of any of the water shoes we tested. This lacing system worked flawlessly in our testing, and Merrell refers to them as “quick action”.
If you are on the hunt for a far more secure fit, the laces can be tightened to any level. The soles of these shoes are incredibly sturdy and thick, by far the best support of any water shoes we tested. They kept rubble and rocks from being felt at all when in the testing process. Additionally, the waterproof leather uppers provided extensive support, with zero robbing or slippage.
Initial Thoughts on Unboxing
When we unboxed these shoes, the first thought that went through our heads was that we made a huge mistake. But it was no mistake, these shoes just simply didn’t appear like your average water shoes in the least. The bottoms of these shoes feature the same Vibram outsole that is expected with Merrell hiking boots, and the toughness of the water shoes is obvious by their outward appearance alone.
These shoes are also some of the heaviest tested, bested only by the KEEN options, which were ideal for similar applications and at the same price point. These shoes are the real deal with it comes to water/hiking hybrids, but come with some disadvantages as a result.
Putting Them Through Their Paces
We spent extensive time testing the Merrell shoes in the elements at Little Talbot Island State Park in Jacksonville, Florida. Our tests included:
- An ocean test: Sugar sand, waves, and hard packed sand.
- A river test: Rocky creek beds, sandy shorelines, flowing water.
- A hiking test: Over pine needles, sand, puddles, and standard trail surfaces.
Here is how they fared.
The Ocean Test
The Merrell Choprock Water Shoe didn’t perform as well as we would have hoped in the ocean test. They were some of the more bulky water shoes that we tested. Remember, they are built for splashing around when hiking. For this reason, they didn’t do great when moving through deeper sugar sand and when moving around in the ocean. This wasn't surprising: these shoes weren't designed for the ocean, but we like to be thorough!
The River Test
These shoes performed admirably in the river test. The Vibram soles did a wonderful job sticking to the rocks, and there were no issues with slipping or sliding. We felt no slick or sharp surfaces in the river testing process.
The Hiking Test
The Merrell Choprock Water Shoe was made for hiking. With the soul (and sole) of a hiking boot, these were incredible in the hiking test, and would have easily held up to many miles of walking and hiking through whatever terrain we would have put it through.
Advantages and Disadvantages
While the performance of the Merrell Choprock Water Shoe was extremely admirable, with such features as a quick pull bungee lace, heavy duty uppers, a Vibram thick outsole and more, there will always be some concerning points with every water shoe we test.
Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages that we noted with the Merrell Choprock Water Shoe.
Advantages of the Merrell Choprock Water Shoe
- Incredibly comfortable shoes in all aspects (except in the sugar sand), these Merrell options were wonderful both and out of the water. As an added bonus, we assumed they would take forever to dry. On the contrary, they dried incredibly fast!
- Putting these shoes on and taking them off was a breeze, thanks to the patented and well-configured lacing system, which also provided a wonderfully snug fit.
- The treads on these shoes (Vibram soles, remember) provide intense gripping on any and every surface in which we tested the shoes. These soles were ideal for hiking (for example, the Narrows would be a piece of cake).
Disadvantages of the Merrell Choprock Water Shoe
- We are quite certain that, with continuous use of these shoes across a variety of terrains and adventures, the soles would quickly wear down. As reviews have shown, when the soles begin to wear down, their ability to grip falters.
- When we were hiking, the openings present on the sides and top of the shoes tended to let in a good bit of rocks, sticks and dirt.
Our Final Thoughts
The Merrell Choprock Shandal fared incredibly well in both the river and hiking tests. However, they were quickly waterlogged and felt extremely heavy in less solid terrains, such as thicker sand. But, if you find yourself hiking through wetter areas, and aren’t concerned about occasional rubbing from dirt, these water shoes will take you the extra mile in the grip and comfort facets. Overall, we were very impressed.
For more water shoe options, check out our comprehensive guide to the best water shoes.