The outdoor footwear brand has launched the second generation of its hiking sneaker designed specifically for women’s feet, the Bravada 2. In conjunction with the shoe, Merrell is also announcing a women-centric hiking club to provide inspiration and connection in the outdoors.
After Merrell celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, the brand took time to reflect on what made its products resonate with people, Lindsey Lindemulder, brand marketing director at Merrell, tells Input. And as the outdoors tends to be dominated by men — and male-focused products — Merrell wanted to encourage more women to “get out there,” she says. Women hikers are quite diverse, “all the way down to the anatomy of their feet,” Lindemulder adds, and the right equipment and community can make all the difference.
Ready for anything
The Bravada 2, the second generation of the women’s Bravada hiking sneaker, features a wider toe box, additional arch support, and a narrower heel to better fit women’s feet. Recognized with a 2022 SELF Certified Sneaker Award for the best low-cut hiking shoe, the Bravada 2 is meant to provide a comfortable fit and peak performance throughout multiple activities — not just hiking.
Contrary to popular belief, Lindemulder says, most people aren’t out hiking for 12 hours at a time. Rather, they’re hiking for around two hours and will likely wear the same shoes they wore outside throughout the rest of the day, making it important for their footwear to be versatile and stylish. The slim look of the Bravada 2 fits well, she says, but it also looks cuter than a pair of bulky hiking boots. Wearers won’t have to worry about packing or changing into multiple pairs of shoes throughout their day.
So far, the Bravada 2 is offered in a burgundy, light green, blue, and black and white color schemes. Both medium and wide widths are available so that wearers can get their most comfortable fit, and a knit upper keeps the shoe breathable. The Bravada 2 is also more sustainable than its predecessor, with recycled materials used across its laces, webbing mesh lining, and removable EVA foam. A durable outsole, molded nylon arch shank, and rock plate (for protection) finish off the sneaker, making the silhouette (and its wearer) ready for any outdoor occasion.
Bravada 2 owners can take advantage of their new sneakers with Merrell’s hiking club. Founded in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) in December 2021, the outdoor group has received great feedback — the EMEA club already boasts an audience of more than 630,000 hikers online. As the hiking club reaches Canada and the United States, Merrel has prepared 24 urban, suburban, and adventure curated hikes throughout EMEA and Canada, with 25 expected to launch in the U.S. in the coming year. Each hike is personalized to a club member’s location.
To kickstart its Western division, Merrell partnered with trailblazers including Erin McGrady, Tiare Bowman, and Shana Joseph, among others. Additional partners will be brought in to build the club globally and work alongside local groups and communities in order to share their expertise and engage with all types of women hikers.
This community makes the outdoors less intimidating for women hikers, regardless of their experience, says Lindemulder. Seeing representation of all types of women hikers — and knowing what local trails are accessible to beginners, moms with strollers, or those with disabilities — increases confidence and subsequently comfort.
Merrell’s More Less campaign expands on this idea by inviting women outside as a form of self-care — a practice that’s accessible and real, Lindemulder says, as opposed to marked-up products or “hustle culture.” According to her, Merrell wants to act as a guide for its consumers. “[The brand] is a friend that can tell me how to do things without being overly bossy or arrogant,” Lindemulder says. “Merrell just wants people to get out there and experience what there is.”
Consumers can do just that with the Bravada 2, available for $110 on Merrell’s website, or by joining the brand’s hiking club. Each is tailored to bolster women’s needs, boost confidence, and hopefully add some fun along the way.