Merrell Jungle Slide and Jungle Moc
By Steve Mann
Merrell's clever ad campaign touts the Jungle shoe as "Fuzzy bunny slippers for freaks like you." I take offense to that. Stereotyping the Jungle Slides as slippers doesn't do them justice--they are far more useful than slippers for a freak like me (although I like the 'fuzzy bunny' part).
These Jungle shoes are Merrell's entry in the burgeoning "After-Sport" market, i.e. shoes designed for comfort and lounging after the extreme activity, be it climbing, trekking, backpacking, scrambling, or snow sports. After-sport shoes are by intent less technical, and more fashionable--depending on whose definition of fashion you're using. Hence the fuzzy bunny slipper moniker, an obvious attempt to appeal to a freak's sense of fashion.
So, how do the Jungle shoes meet their after-sport goal? Pretty well. First off, the shoes are lightweight, immensely comfortable, and just different enough to draw approval from fellow gear slaps, and puzzled looks from the over-conservative. The svelte 1 pound 6 ounce weight makes these shoes (uhhh, make that slippers) feel like walking on air. Merrell's time-tested footbed also adds to the comfort.
The Jungle shoe comes in two flavors--the Moc and the Slide. The Moc features a back up around your heel, while the Slide lacks the heel, looking more like a slip-on clog (see photos.)
Which one is better? I prefer the Slide, but then I don't try anything radical in my fuzzy bunny shoes. Going uphill in a Slide isn't a wise idea. Your foot will pop out of the shoe quicker than mosquitoes detect your scent after a long day of hiking. If you want a shoe that'll perform in varied conditions, try the Moc. Its still far from an approach shoe, but it will keep your heel from catching air while ascending.
The "jungle runner sole with sticky rubber" gives the Moc some capability for light hiking and scrambling. A waterproof pigskin upper gives the shoes good durabilty in varied weather conditions.
So what do I use the Jungle Slide for? Camp shoe. Lazin' around shoe. Informal work shoe. Driving shoe (on the way to the trailhead, and after the hike, heading home). To summarize--just about anything that doesn't require a technical shoe or a formal shoe, and most of all when my tired, aching, sweaty, punished feet scream for comfort.
I don't pack the Jungle Slides (or Mocs) as a camp shoe on backpacking trips, opting for a trail running shoe that can take some scrambling, wading, and hiking better than the Jungle "slippers".
The Moc and Slide come in a variety of colors from classic taupe, to kickin' cooper (for those with a twisted sense of fashion.) At $65.00 for the Moc ($60 for the Slide) they may not be an impulse buy, but they are well worth the swipe of your plastic. Merrell offers the Slide and Moc in Men's sizes 7-12,13,14,15M, and women's sizes 5-10,11M.
Steve Mann is a contributing editor for GearReview.com.
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