Do you love Merrell? But really, how good are they for your hiking needs? This detailed review has all the information you need to come to the right conclusion. In this article, I’ll take a quick look at the history of this brand, go over the materials and technologies that the company uses to manufacture its footwear, and also analyze some of its most popular shoes in great detail.
History of the Brand
Merrell is the result of professional collaboration between Clark Matis, John Schweizer, and Randy Merrell, who established this brand in 1981.
They had everything they needed to start a brand that will have a bright future – John and Clark had a lot of experience with backcountry exploration. In contrast, Randy had the necessary shoemaking expertise.
The primary goal of this friendly cooperation was to design, manufacture, and sell boots and shoes that wouldn’t go hard on the customers’ wallets while still providing outstanding comfort and above-average performance.
Even though the brand was doing quite well, one of the three guys – Randy Merrell – decided to sell his share of the company. A bit later, the brand was sold to Karhu and finally to Wolverine World Wide (WWW). Fortunately, WWW keeps the brand’s name at the top of the industry by moving its production in the right direction.
Even though Merrell’s main focus is still footwear, the brand has managed to expand throughout the years and now manufactures many other products. These include bags, backpacks, stuff sacks, socks, hoodies, shorts, t-shirts, knit caps, gloves, and jackets.
In 2022, Merrell is still among the planet’s most famous shoemaking brands and one held in high regard by millions of backcountry explorers worldwide. Their footwear still combines affordability with high performance and unmatched comfort.
Manufacture & Materials
High-quality shoes and boots can only be made out of high-quality materials. Merrell uses mostly recycled materials (polyester and rubber) in line with its values. This, however, has no negative effect on the performance of the brand’s footwear.
Merrell relies on natural and synthetic materials, including options made out of nylon or polyester textiles or, in some cases, leather. Most of the brand’s shoes are equipped with mesh linings that add necessary ventilation and breathability.
Merrell utilizes some proprietary and third-party technologies like other renowned footwear brands to make its footwear as comfortable and feature-rich as possible.
The most well-known out of all Merrell’s proprietary technologies is M-Select Dry. As its name suggests, this technology is very similar to the ubiquitous Gore-Tex – a waterproof membrane whose purpose is to protect your feet from the elements while still allowing them to “breathe.”
However, the brand uses Gore-Tex as well. Merrell utilizes this fabric in some of its more resistant shoes and boots, i.e. the ones designed for harsher conditions and longer hikes.
For the outsoles, the brand relies on Vibram, which still stands as one of the best manufacturers of outsoles. Vibram is famous for its Arctic Grip sole, which provides good traction on technical terrain.
Merrell uses the Kinetic Fit design for the insoles, whose primary purpose is to provide the arch and heel of one’s foot with adequate support. Folks who require more cushioning in their footwear should check out the shoes and boots featuring the brand’s M-Select Fit technology.
Other proprietary technologies used by this company include M-Select Warm, M-Select Wind, M-Select Wick, and M-Select Grip. Their Sun Protection technology deserves a special mention – it’s a very specific type of UPF-treated fabric that protects one’s feet from harmful UV rays.
Merrell’s shoes and boots have genuinely reasonable prices.
You can purchase some of the brand’s less-technical and lighter designs at around $80. On the other hand, Merrell’s top-notch footwear, i.e., shoes and boots that provide unmatched grip, protection, and comfort, can cost as much as $250.
Are all of these products worth their price? As far as I’m concerned, they are. This brand is held in high regard for a good reason – it provides a huge range of designs that are relatively affordable, well-made, and high-performing.
If you are interested in brands similar to Merrell and how they compare against it, check out our Merrell or Columbia comparison and our Merrell and Solomon comparison.
Top 5 Best Merrell Shoes
In this part of the article, I’ll be taking a detailed look at five Merrell shoes that I consider to be the company’s best. Hopefully, these Merrell shoe reviews will help you determine whether this brand is the right choice for your needs:
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Hiking Shoes
- Weight: 2.20 lbs
- Waterproof: No
- Colors Available: 19
By far the most popular hiking shoe made by Merrell, the Moab 2 Ventilator has just one drawback – it’s somewhat bulky. The model excels in all other departments and stands as one of the best products of its type on today’s market.
As far as I’m concerned, the best thing about this shoe is its breathability. This model is well-ventilated and is a great choice for those looking for a reasonably-priced summertime hiking shoe.
The spacious toe box should also be mentioned, as it takes little time to break in these shoes. The Vibram TC5+ outsoles deserve special praise – they provide phenomenal traction on all terrain, including wet rocks.
Due to its immense popularity, Merrell offers this shoe in 19 eye-catching color combinations. Moreover, the model runs true to size and is affordable, even though it’s as feature-rich as many pricier hiking shoes. All in all, an excellent deal.
- Outstanding out-of-box comfort
- Grippy Vibram TC5+ outsoles
- Very breathable
- A bit heavy
Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes
- Weight: 1.56 lbs
- Waterproof: Yes
- Colors Available: 1
Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first – this shoe’s fit is somewhat wonky. The internal fabric is prone to folding in rippling, resulting in frequent slippages inside the shoe. If your feet are narrow, I suggest checking out the other Merrell shoes reviewed in this article.
This shoe is available in two different variants – the waterproof (GTX) and the non-waterproof one. I highly recommend going with the GTX version, as it’s truly water-resistant and effortlessly keeps one’s feet dry and cozy in wet weather.
The “Speed” in the model’s name is there for a good reason – this shoe is quite lightweight and nimble, resulting from Merrell’s decision to use several very light materials in its manufacture. The Vibram EcoStep outsoles are also here, providing the wearer with superb traction.
If you want your hiking shoes to be as lightweight and water-resistant as possible, Moab Speed is a phenomenal choice. And this shoe is also very grippy, which is guaranteed to come in handy when traversing rugged terrain.
- Superb traction (Vibram EcoStep)
- Outstanding water resistance
- Truly lightweight
- Wonky fit
Merrell Moab Flight Hiking Shoes
- Weight: 1.21 lbs
- Waterproof: No
- Colors Available: 8
Next up is one of the most attractive-looking hiking shoes in Merrell’s repertoire – Moab Flight. No matter which one of the 8 color combinations you choose, you’re guaranteed to end up with one seriously good-looking pair of trekking shoes.
However, we all know that looks aren’t as important regarding backcountry footwear – let’s look at this shoe’s performance. One of the best things about Moab Flight is that it sports a wide platform, providing the stability necessary for comfortable jogging and walking.
This shoe feels extremely comfortable and cushy, thanks to the FloatPro midsoles. The outsole is the same as the one featured on the Moab Speed model reviewed above: the Vibram EcoStep outsole effortlessly grabs both dry and wet surfaces.
However, this hiking shoe is not flawless. Its biggest disadvantage is its loose fit. But if that’s exactly what you’re searching for, look no further – Moab Flight is the perfect choice for your backpacking needs.
- Versatile – great for hiking and trail running
- Exceptionally breathable mesh upper
- A very stable pair of hiking shoes
- Loose fit
Merrell Moab Adventure Hiking Shoes
- Weight: 1.62 lbs
- Waterproof: No
- Colors Available: 5
Here we have another Merrell’s Moab family member – the Adventure hiking shoes. Available in 5 similarly shaded colors and several different sizes, this shoe is a good choice for any day hiker who wants to get a good bang for his buck.
Combining a mesh upper with some Nubuck leather, the model is decently breathable and protective. And although it does sport some water-resistant properties, it is not genuinely waterproof: those who often hike in wet conditions should look elsewhere.
Like many other Merrell hiking shoes, this one combines a Vibram outsole with an EVA midsole for the best possible traction, stability, and comfort. A molded nylon arch shank also deserves a mention, as does the protective toe cap made of rubber.
For its price, Moab Adventure has it all – adequate cushioning, excellent comfort, and sufficient breathability. The only thing I didn’t like is the stiff fit: wearing these shoes almost feels like hiking boots. If you love your shoe snug, this one will be right up your alley.
- Durable & breathable construction
- Stable on all types of surfaces
- Classic design
- Boot-like stiffness
Merrell Yokota 2 Hiking Shoes
- Weight: 0.93 lbs
- Waterproof: No
- Colors Available: 7
Comfortable, durable, and inexpensive all-around hiking shoe, Merrell’s Yokota 2 deserves a closer look. Behind this peculiar name hides one of the brand’s most popular and well-received footwear products, whose greatest strength is its affordability.
However, this low price also has a disadvantage – this shoe is not waterproof. However, this shouldn’t be a big problem if you’re someone who hikes only during the warm summer months.
You’ll get a trekking shoe that’s comfortable straight out of the box and whose rubber outsole offers solid traction and provides much-needed stability on uneven terrain. Regarding lacing, Yokota 2 sports a hook-and-loop system that’s simple, effective, and does exactly what it’s supposed to do.
I should also point out that this shoe has a somewhat narrow fit and isn’t suitable for folks with wide feet. Otherwise, it’s an excellent budget-friendly summertime-hiking option that looks and works just as advertised.
- Grippy, supportive, and very breathable
- No break-in period needed
- Not for wide feet
Are Merrell Shoes Good for Hiking?
The brand’s hiking shoes are held in high regard not only due to their comfort and reliability but also because they’re equipped with the company’s proprietary technologies that often give them an edge over the competition.
Do This Brand’s Shoes Fit True to Size?
The consensus is that, yes, Merrell’s footwear fits exactly as it should in most cases. In other words, you can always go for your standard shoe size with no worries.
Are Merrell Shoes Good Quality?
Yes, they are – they’re of great quality and fairly priced. Merrell’s shoes, boots, and other products are worth the money. As long as you take proper care of your Merrell shoes, they are bound to last you a long time.
Where Are This Brand’s Shoes Made?
Like in the case of other well-known footwear brands, this company’s shoes are manufactured in many different places worldwide. Currently, most of its products are made in the United States and a few Asian countries.
Merrell is undoubtedly one of those rare footwear brands that offer products that are both affordable and rich in innovative features.
So, to answer the question from the title – yes, Merrell’s shoes are good. No matter which pair of this brand’s shoes you ultimately choose, make sure to take proper care of it, and you’ll be enjoying years of safe and comfortable backpacking.
I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.