One sweet boot, that’s the new Mercury from Hydrogen-1. Haven’t heard of Hydrogen-1 before? They’re a San Francisco-based company that got off the ground earlier this year thanks to the website Kickstarter. The company raised more than $89,000 to fund their first inventory consisting of 12 distinct styles designed to be both fashionable and comfortable. After wearing the Mercury around for a few weeks, I can definitely say “mission accomplished.”
Here’s the quick elevator pitch. Hydrogen-1 founder Hero Nakatani needed a shoe that could be worn with a suit to the office. Sneaker-like comfort and a professional, modern look were the mandate. When no options presented themselves, Hero struck out on his own. He designed boots, brogues, wingtips and more. He found a manufacturing partner in Italy to handcraft the products. He got the funding and the rest is history.
Hero was gracious enough to provide me with one of his first run Founder Edition boots. The Mercury I received takes its styling cues from classic Blundstone boots manufactured in Australia. Simple lines, rounded toe cap, mid-calf height and elastic inserts at the sides to ease entry. The Mercury’s are more refined, however, with a sleeker line and more narrow fit. My size 10 fit very well on my typically size 10.5 foot.
At first wearing, I found the boot comfortable, but lacking overall support. I must admit, I’m a tweaker when it comes to shoe fit, often swapping out insoles, adding more padding. And that’s what I did with the Mercury. Out with the standard flat insole and in with a more supportive Superfeet product. Ahh, perfect.
Hydrogen-1 builds all their shoes with sneaker soles. Some are lightly colored and feature a siped pattern. Others are dark and use lugs. The Mercury is of the latter type. Looking down at them, you’d never know. They look like Italian dress boots, which is exactly what they are. Just more comfortable. The Mercury boots wear extremely well, provide good traction and solid durability. After several weeks and a good number of miles, still no heel erosion.
Hero hit the mark with his Hydrogen-1 shoes. They’re comfortable and good looking. And I dig the Mercury boot’s simple lines and hard-wearing sneaker sole. At nearly $300, the product seems a touch pricey. But when you compare them to other hand-crafted Italian made shoes, the Hydrogen-1’s are actually a bargain. Check them out at hydrogen-1.com.