I learned about the Singapore Mountaineering Federation. The name of this organisation sent chills down my spine as soon as I visited the website.
Suddenly, that bucket list climb doesn't feel impossible. Who knows? I may even decide upon Mt. Everest. I checked out the Singapore Mountaineering Federation's National Certificate in Mountaineering.
Once I'm ready to prepare, I'll take the course. It's great knowing that I don't have to go outside my homeland to receive this specific training.
Next up? The important item I need to get me on and off icy terrain safely: the right boots. When I learned that Merrell Moab FST Ice and Thermo boots were given National Geographic Adventure Gear of the Year honours in 2015, I was impressed.
Because this footwear is relatively new, there weren't many reviews to consult, so I figured I would wear and test them, and write a review of my own.
A Man and His Brand
I don't know about you, but there's something honest and comforting about having a real person stand behind a brand name. In the case of Merrell, that innovator is a dude named Randy Merrell who was dissatisfied with the quality of custom-made boots produced for people who explore the great outdoors.
His first designs, 30 years ago, were called "The best hiking boots ever made" by "Backpacker" magazine, a publication that knows a thing or two about comfort, quality and function.
Over time, exacting standards became a hallmark of Merrell boots, from proprietary soles to signature blue laces that identify hiking boots.
To enhance the brand's reputation and extend its market, Olympian skier Clark Matis and John Schweizer joined forces with Merrell to produce high-performance hiking boots capable of confronting extreme weather circumstances and temperatures.
The new division would serve fans of high-endurance winter sports, and the company's signature Vibram Arctic Grip soles, made specifically for weather extremes, literally reshaped the Arctic footwear market. I needn't search further for my boots, I said.
The Heart of This Boot is Found in its Sole
Having already been impressed by the aforementioned National Geographic Adventure Gear of the Year Award, I found a newer honour that sealed the deal: GearJunkies' Best in Show at the 2016 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.
That groundbreaking sole is at the heart of the engineering that is so cleverly designed, trekkers needn’t fear the most harrowing ground conditions when they set off on expeditions.
"Vibram's most advanced cold weather gripping system [has] 3-times more grip than other outsoles on wet ice and slippery surfaces," according to Merrell literature, and I was also delighted to learn that my feet would be treated to interior comfort, no matter how frigid temperatures become.
The secret behind the soles are deep lugs fashioned of rubber compound infused with a filler system that stands up to the harshest surfaces. My Moab FST Ice and Thermal boots even issue weather reports! I lift up my foot and peer at the bottom of my soles and if they've turned blue, that means the ground temperature is below freezing (32-degrees F).
- In my opinion, the Arctic Grip is, without a doubt, the most advanced cold-weather trekking feature ever.
- I feel safe, secure and confident wearing these leather and mesh boots that also absorb shocks nicely
- The Moab FST helps me survive soaking-wet terrain, rocky/icy surfaces and even slippery inclines.
- US$150 is a small price to pay for keeping me on my feet in harrowing circumstances.
- Deluxe cushioning and Conductor fleece lining are an awesome duo, and I appreciate the lining's odour-controlling properties, too.
- My feet stay dry thanks to M Select™ DRY, a superior moisture-repelling sealant. Even the tongue is designed to repel debris.
- Despite the signature deep lug sole, these will not substitute spikes once I have a chance to confront the most harrowing summits during my future extreme-weather climbs.
- Trekkers who are sticklers for a precise amount of insulation — this means those of you who won’t settle for anything less than 200g — may not be satisfied with the 100g used to fabricate this Moab Ice and Thermal boot. Until Merrell deals with this issue, competitor Capra may have an edge.
- Frugal shoppers may not be crazy about the $150 price tag, so if you buy these, make sure you’re going to indulge in the type of outdoor activities that justify the expenditure.
- Because these boots are so new, there hasn't been enough testing done by consumers to deliver a complete picture of this footwear’s performance. I’m satisfied at this point and until I find something to complain about, I remain an enthusiastic member of the Moab Ice and Thermal fan club!
Given Merrell's reputation and impressive history, there’s no reason for me to think that I can’t conquer extreme winter terrain wearing my Ice+ Thermal boots and you can bet I'll be taking them on "test runs" over the next year or so to make sure that they’re ready for the ultimate challenge I’ve set for myself.
Will I bring spikes with me for those high elevations that require additional safeguards? Of course. There are plenty of ice traction cleats that will add another measure of assurance to my future climb. See you on the mountain!
The Merrell MOAB FST collection is available at Stadium Takashimaya S.C. and all Royal Sporting House stores. (Excluding outlet stores – Bedok Mall, Cathay Cinesleisure, Changi City Point, IMM and The Star Vista) for S$179 - S$239.