When I first thought about hiking the A.T. I never considered a sponsor, but when I began gathering all the gear I would need I realized this would be a pricey trip. I already had most of the equipment, but a lot of it desperately needed upgrading. I needed a new sleeping bag (thanks Rich!), a new pack, rain coat, water purifier, phone, and boots.
Kelly was the Merrell representative at the store I was working at, and when she saw me at the Merrell store one day in a different mall she was confused. A few of my friends worked at the Merrell store and I was visiting them/drooling over all their sweet gear. When Kelly walked in she looked at the 3 of us and was probably wondering what I was doing there, since she normally saw me at my store. After a quick explanation and a laugh I casually asked what someone had to do to get sponsored. She asked what I was doing and after I explained she said she would see what she could do. A few weeks later, right before I was supposed to leave, I had new Merrell Perimeter Gore Tex boots. They were similar to my old hiking boots having a full leather upper, but throw some Gore Tex under that and I thought these things were bomb proof, they felt like it too. I wore them a few times to play frisby golf, and to work once or twice with no issues or blisters. When I got on the trail they were fantastic, waterproof, comfortable, and durable. They made it 1393 miles, and they would have made it farther if not for those darn Pennsylvania rocks. My poor boots had been absolutely soaked (almost to the point of being filled with water), and then dried out, they saved my feet during the snow storm, and had basically been climbing shoes while I was bouldering through southern NY. They were put through the ringer, and like the giving tree had nothing left to give. When they began to wear out I called Merrell, explained the situation to them, 150 miles and a week later I was picking up my new boots. When I took them out of the box they were unrecognizable because I was used to seeing my old trashed ones. It is always a good feeling to put on new shoes, but putting on new boots to hike 17 miles a day after hiking next to bare foot for 100 miles is incredible! I was a little bit worried abbot blisters but have had no problem. From fresh out of the box to 17 miles on the Appalachian Trail is pretty impressive. Thank you Matt, Chauncey, Mindy, Kelly, Laura, and everyone at Merrell. To Katahdin!