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Merrell Turns 40 – Explore our journey thus far

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Merrell has been creating durable, high-quality footwear for four decades!

Take a trip down memory lane with us to discover how we’ve conquered the many trails, trials, tribulations and thrills throughout the years.

The Origin

1981 – 1982

It all started with a custom pair of cowboy boots.

Randy Merrell made the jump from an industrial shoe-making school to crafting handmade boots. Eventually he decided to try his highly skilled hand at making hiking boots, and he began designing and manufacturing these handmade custom boots for a small group of outdoor enthusiasts. Well, the word spread like wildfire.

Randy teamed up with two former ski company executives who were looking to strike out on their own, namely John Schweizer and Olympian Clark Matis.

Randy’s expert craftsmanship paired with Clark and John’s industry experience and athletic instincts would prove to be the perfect combination, with each member of the trio having their own superpower:

  • The original Merrell product designs came from Randy.
  • Clark Matis contributed production management knowledge as well as his marketing savvy.
  • John Schweizer added his business acumen and Italian sources.

Together, they began to design a more affordable model of high-performance hiking boots, and the Merrell brand began to take shape. They applied a ‘no compromise’ approach to their boot-making, as the team added American cowboy boot technology to the Italian boot-manufacturing process.

Backpacker Magazine were the first to call them ‘the best hiking boots ever made’ as well as ‘the most comfortable and functional boots in North America’ – and they were not wrong in their early recognition of what was about to grow into such a trailblazing brand.

Meet Randy, Clark and John in this behind-the-scenes video of the team telling their own story.


1983

The first Merrell products were delivered to market!

That same year we introduced our first women’s hiking boot with QForm® comfort technology, specially designed to fit the unique profile, bone structure and stride of female hikers, for greater comfort and performance.


1985

We launched our Eagle model.

This combined running shoe performance with backcountry utility to create lighter and faster footwear for the trail. It was the first of its kind in Merrell history and marked the beginning of our movement towards ground-breaking trail-running and multi-sport technology.


1993 – 2003

We released our first cross-trainer model.

Over the next 10 years, we went all out innovation and added the mountain conquering Vibram® soles, launched the first ever Aftersport Jungle Mocs, and introduced our World Collection. Pretty much the only thing we didn’t do was sleep!

And since 2001, Medicus Shoes has enjoyed the South African distribution rights for Merrell performance outdoor footwear. From its humble beginnings in the country, marketing the Aftersport category through the Alpine Moc and Jungle Moc and Slide, the brand came to specialise across a number of categories; namely hiking, multisport, trail-running, athletic hike, and active lifestyle.


2006 – 2011

Merrell US launched Merrell Apparel, partnered with the National Park Foundation, turned 30, and continued to push the limits of high-performance outdoor gear.

Our heritage trail-running styles such as the Seismic and the CTR Cruise came into popularity in this time as well, as trail running grew and developed worldwide.


2016

In 2016, Merrell US teamed up with Tough Mudder as the presenting sponsor. We celebrated the spirit and grit of the outdoors through this inspiring challenge where everyone is your teammate.


2021

Today, we can say that we have stretched ourselves according to Randy, Clark and John’s original vision while constantly adapting to the ever-changing world.

We understand that the world is stressed – what with Covid-19, social justice, climate change, financial instability and so much else.

But that’s why we believe in the simple power of being outside.

Although most people think that they spend around 60% of their time indoors, they are actually spending up to 90% of their time indoors. But the truth is that being outside does more for our minds and bodies than most people understand.

  • 2 hours a week outdoors leads to better health and well-being
  • 90% of people experienced increased energy just by participating in outdoor activities
  • a 15-minute walk in nature shows a 16% decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone), 2% drop in blood pressure, and 4% drop in heart rate

And it is these mentally and physically beneficial outdoor vibes that compelled Randy Merrell to start this company 40 years ago.

We want to make this easy and accessible to all. How? By doing what we’ve always done!

As always, our focus is on:

  1. intentional quality
  2. the comfort in the fit
  3. versatile performance
  4. progressive styling

Because if we can do those 4 things right, we can enable anyone on the planet to pick up Merrell gear and feel adventurous, empowered, confident, and like they belong.

Merrell Gear

From our very first custom-made hiking boots to our latest product innovations, we make all of our products with certain core values in mind: Comfort, Durability, Design, and Versatility. It’s all about removing the barriers to enjoying the great outdoors, from walking to trail-running and everything in between.


Comfort

We believe that doing what you love should feel good, both mentally and physically. Climbing Everest is taxing enough without blisters the size of pancakes on your feet. We make our products to fit as comfortably as possible.


Durability

Merrell stands for durable, high-performance products that last – and last like Stonehenge, like mummified King Tut. We build our gear to hold up in the harshest conditions, over and over again.


Design

Merrell gear is made to look right, feel right and perform right. Our beauty is not only skin-deep. We go to great lengths to ensure that form, feel and functionality all come together seamlessly.


Versatility

These boots were made for walking, and running, and hiking and climbing mountains, or just sitting around, really. Merrell fits a wide variety of people, for a wide variety of adventures. We’re about ground-breaking multi-sport technology.


These core values feature as the key characteristics in our renowned trail-running footwear selection. Our current favourites when it comes to hitting the trail are the Agility Peak 4 and the Antora 2 – the latter of which has continued our heritage in impressing experts and enthusiasts at Backpacker Magazine.

Merrell Gear Agility Peak 4 And Antora 2
From Left: Agility Peak 4 Tahoe | Agility Peak 4 Atoll | Antora 2 Highrise | Antora 2 Marine

For 40 years, our gear has provided high-performance and top-tier technology to help you reach new heights and new personal bests. But it’s also been there to enable fun. We try to bring a sense of pleasure and play to active outdoor adventures whenever possible. Because the whole point in life is to enjoy it.

Do what you love, and do it often with your Merrell gear. It’s made to last.

Our Mission

Our mission is to create great products – whether it’s for wilderness excursions or city excursions – all while making the trail welcoming and accessible to everybody.

We also want to ensure that the environment stays preserved and protected so that future generations can experience its joy.

Because – bottom line – the outdoors makes people happy.

So here’s to another 40 years, and another after that!

Here’s to celebrating and sharing the simple power of being outside, every day.

Here’s to you, and to Merrell, and the great many adventures we’re going to have together.