Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot review: Retro style meets modern hiking tech

The Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot combines retro design flair with the latest technology, adding comfort and waterproofing to this stylish boot

Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot review
(Image credit: Merrell)
T3 Verdict

The throwback Merrell Ontario 85 Waterproof Mid Wool is a stylish boot with ample support and great traction. Suitable for all-day hiking, the cushioned midsole is all the comfort you want. While they might not replace your favorite sturdy hiking boots, the Merrell Ontario is a sharp looking boot on and off the trail

Reasons to buy
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    No break-in time needed

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    Appealing retro look

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    Sneaker-like fit and feel

Reasons to avoid
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    Less supportive than some competition

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    No wide sizing option

The Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot bridges the perennial gap we tend to find between performance and style. In many cases, choosing one of the best women's hiking boots means you have to ignore looks, opting instead for the boot that performs the best. Not in this case. This boot feels as comfortable as wearing a tennis shoe but adds waterproof technology, excellent traction for all terrain, and Merrell’s specialized “Air Cushion” in the heel, to absorb shock when the going gets rough underfoot.

The mid-rise boot is comfortable straight out of the box, with no need for a break-in period. Straight from the box to the trail and then to the office, this boot is an all-around winner in function and style.

Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot review: Design

The Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot feels more like a tennis shoe when you put it on. The boot has flexible ankle support, with heel-cupping support to help keep the foot stable and secure in the boot.

The waterproof membrane keeps moisture out, but allows heat to escape, keeping the foot comfortable and dry. The boots have 3mm lugs for grip strength that doesn't hang on to mud or snow. That also makes them easy to knock clean so you don’t track trail dirt all over the car or house. The insert in the boot is Merrell’s Kinetic Fit BASE, which is contoured for support but is also removable in case you have your own insoles or orthotics you’d rather use in the boot.

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best women's hiking boots: Merrell Women's Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof

(Image credit: Merrell)
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best women's hiking boots: Merrell Women's Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof

(Image credit: Merrell)
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best women's hiking boots: Merrell Women's Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof

(Image credit: Merrell)

The midsole features Merrell’s Air Cushion technology which absorbs shock and adds stability. A lightweight EVA foam midsole works nicely for stability and comfort. The women’s boots weigh in at 1 pound and 9 ounces for the pair, making them relatively lightweight for a mid-rise hiking boot. The sole is a Vibram Megagrip for great traction and durability.

The D-ring lacing system means these hiking boots are exceptionally easy and quick to take on and off, not something every hiking boot can claim. It also allows for you to accommodate especially thick hiking socks. However, this design also means that tightening the tension takes some effort, with quick hands to place the laces in the final metal hook and tie the boots.

The Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot is available in women's, men's, and kids' versions. Women’s and men’s are available in two color options and the boots for kids come in three options. Occasionally, Merrell makes a special edition of the Ontario 85 with new color schemes.

Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot review: Comfort and performance

Our testing notes had no negatives to report about the comfort of the Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot. The soft EVA foam made for a well-cushioned bounce, as did the air cushion in the heel area. The lacing system was great for adjusting tension and getting the boots on and off quickly.

The ankle support was more flexible than most hiking boots, which some may find less ideal. For a long multi-day hiking adventure with  a large backpack, we’d be inclined to reach for our sturdier hiking boots, but the Merrell Ontario 85 are great for smaller hiking trips and for those who like a bit of style in their athletic shoes.

Should I buy the Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot?

The Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot has been thoroughly tested for this review, but should you invest in a pair for your upcoming adventures? It certainly is a boot with a certain style, as well as good foot support and great traction on a mixture of surfaces.  If you are planning to go on all-day hikes, you should find that the cushioned midsole provides all the comfort you need to make the expedition a success. 

Will they replace your favorite sturdy hiking boots? Only you can decide, but the Merrell Ontario 85 Wool Mid Waterproof hiking boot is a good looking boot to wear both on and off the trail.