Why do Merrell’s hiking shoes get mixed reviews? Why aren’t this company’s products as celebrated as, say, the ones by Salomon? Are Merrells good?If you’re looking for answers to these and similar questions, you’re in the right place.
In this article, I’ll take a quick look at Merrell’s background and its seven best-selling hiking shoes. Hopefully, these short but informative reviews will help you decide whether you should or shouldn’t go with this brand’s trekking footwear.
Table of Contents
- 1 About Merrell
- 2 Top 7 Merrell Hiking Shoes Reviewed
- 3 The Takeaway
This company has been around for almost four decades. Initially, Merrell set out to design, manufacture, and sell custom-made (and quite pricey!) trekking shoes for the outdoor specialty market.
However, a few years after the brand’s inception, its original owners – Randy Merrell, Clark Matis, and John Schweizer – decided to sell it. This shifted Merrell’s focus to the mass market and caused it to move its manufacturing to Asian countries.
Ever since the late 1990s, Merrell has been owned by a Michigan-based corporation called Wolverine World Wide (WWW). This conglomerate also owns other famous footwear brands, such as Chaco, Saucony, Keds, Hush Puppies, Harley-Davidson Footwear, and others.
Most outdoor enthusiasts know about Merrell due to the brand’s reasonably-priced hiking shoes that successfully blur the boundary between technical and casual footwear.
The company’s best-selling product is Moab 2 Ventilator, which offers unmatched comfort and breathability. Although it’s advertised as the best trekking shoe for dry and hot climates, a lot of folks wear it as a work shoe or an everyday around-town shoe.
As far as I’m concerned, this brand isn’t so popular due to the performance of its hiking shoes, but more due to the prices. In other words, Merrell isn’t really a premium footwear brand – it’s more of a budget-oriented one.
A lot of the outdoor footwear experts rank this brand a few notches below the market’s most renowned names. This is because Merrell’s shoes and boots aren’t really oriented toward serious outdoor enthusiasts.
Compared to the footwear designed and sold by genuinely expensive brands, Merrell’s hiking shoes and boots fall short in durability, waterproofing, ankle and foot support, and overall construction quality.
With that said, Merrell is a very good option for folks who aren’t that serious about backcountry exploration and who like wearing hiking shoes as everyday shoes. It’s a solid choice for trekkers who stick to well-maintained trails for people with wide feet and those on a budget.
On the other hand, if you’re searching for the best possible waterproofing, top-notch ankle support, and first-class comfort, you will have to look elsewhere.
Top 7 Merrell Hiking Shoes Reviewed
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Hiking Shoes
The first Merrell hiking shoe I’ll be looking at is also the brand’s best-selling product. You have almost certainly seen Moab 2 Ventilator out on the trail – it’s an immensely popular shoe among those who primarily hike in hot and dry conditions.
The thing that makes this model so pleasant to wear in hot weather is its waterproof membrane-free upper. And while this upper is made out of lightweight mesh material, Moab 2 Ventilator is still somewhat heavy – a pair size 11 weighs 2.20 pounds.
You’ll be able to wear these shoes right after you buy them, as they provide out-of-the-box comfort. Remember that the fit is somewhat loose, though – Moab 2 Ventilator is not the best choice for backcountry explorers with narrow feet.
In terms of traction, it’s safe to say that this Merrell hiking shoe grips most surfaces quite well. It performs very nicely in mud and snow and has no trouble biting into both dry and wet rocks.
- Comfortable out of the box
- Unrivaled breathability
- Exceptional comfort
- Loose fit
Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes
If you prefer easy to moderate day hikes and you often take walks in rainy conditions – or in places full of shallow creeks – the Moab 2 Waterproof is an ideal hiking shoe for you. The only disadvantage of this particular model is that it’s somewhat heavy – everything else is on point.
The superb water resistance of this shoe is definitely its greatest quality. Equipped with Merrell’s proprietary M-Select Dry waterproof membrane, these hiking shoes successfully keep one’s feet dry in light rain and shallow creeks.
Fortunately, Moab 2 Waterproof is also very durable. At the end of the testing period – during which I hiked in these shoes over different terrain – I noticed virtually no damage. Robust toe protection also deserves words of praise, as does the supportive arch shank made out of molded nylon.
The last thing worth pointing out is that this shoe provides very good traction – its Vibram TC5+ outsole is very reliable during steep rock scrambles.
- Fully waterproof M-Select Dry membrane
- Simple but durable construction
- Reliable traction
Merrell Moab Flight Hiking Shoes
The biggest disadvantage of this model is also its biggest advantage: due to the fact that it lacks traction and stability, the Moab Flight is a much better hiking shoe than a trail runner.
Don’t get me wrong – this is a hiking shoe. It’s just that it was designed specifically for folks looking for low weight and that nimble feel that is usually offered by trail runners. And Moab Flight is undoubtedly a lightweight hiking shoe, as it weighs only 1.21 pounds (size 9).
As mentioned above, this model’s traction – offered by its thin 3mm lugs – is nothing to write home about. It is, however, very stable thanks to its wide platform. I should also point out that Moab Flight provides first-rate comfort and that it easily accepts most foot shapes.
Who is this hiking shoe/trail runner for? If you only engage in day hikes and like to do a bit of trail running here and there, Moab Flight is a solid choice.
- Extremely comfortable
- A very stable platform
- Low weight
- Subpar traction
Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes
Here we have yet another lightweight member of the Moab family – the Moab Speed hiking shoe. Offering solid durability and traction, it’s an ideal choice for outdoor enthusiasts who value agility and speed.
In terms of comfort, on the other hand, I had my ups and downs with this shoe. While it’s undoubtedly well-cushioned, the model provides a somewhat wonky, sloppy fit. I would advise against buying Moab Speed if you have narrow feet.
The traction is very impressive, though. Equipped with Vibram’s EcoStep outsoles, these hiking shoes grip all kinds of surfaces without much effort. Each of the model’s lugs is deep and consists of several well-defined layers.
I tested the non-waterproof variant of Merrell’s Moab Speed, but keep in mind that a Gore-Tex version is also available. The GTX variant easily handles streams and puddles, while the non-GTX one becomes completely soaked quite quickly.
The last thing worth mentioning is that this hiking shoe is surprisingly durable: it can take a serious beating despite its lightweight construction.
- GTX and non-GTX versions are available
- Lightweight but durable
- Very good traction
- Not the best fit
Merrell Moab Edge 2 Hiking Shoes
The last hiking shoe from Merrell’s Moab family I’ll be looking at is Moab Edge 2, which is an excellent choice for day hikers searching for immediate comfort and good arch support.
Both the durability and the traction are excellent. The model is very well-made and features an outsole that just works on all types of terrains due to its deep 5mm lugs. With Moab Edge 2, you’ll always be able to maintain a good ground grip.
Another praiseworthy feature is Merrell’s in-house Kinetic Fit insole, which is flexible enough to conform to the wearer’s foot while still providing adequate support. Underfoot firmness, on the other hand, is guaranteed by the presence of a molded nylon arch shank.
I should also point out that the Moab Edge 2 was made with the help of the brand’s proprietary M-Select Fresh technology. It bonds microbes to the lining of the shoe and, in that way, maintains an odor-free environment. Pretty convenient, wouldn’t you say?
- Odor-free interior (M-Select Fresh)
- Comfortable & supportive
- Grippy 5mm lugs
- Not for multi-day hikes
Merrell Yokota 2 Hiking Shoes
Here we have a budget-friendly offering from Merrell that should work well for most day hikers. Yokota 2 is a grippy, durable, and breathable hiking shoe whose only major fault is that it’s not comfortable enough for folks with wide feet.
Behind this peculiar name hides an affordable, all-around model that provides comfort right out of the box. However, as I said above, it’s not the best choice out there for folks with wide feet – the fit is too snug.
One particularly good thing about Yokota 2 is that it comes equipped with Merrell’s in-house outsole. Some people say that it’s not as reliable as the solutions provided by Vibram, but I tend to disagree: it’s pretty darn good and grips all types of surfaces without any trouble.
If you’re looking to save some money, this all-around Merrell hiking shoe is a solid option.
- Phenomenal all-around hiking shoe
- Grippy Merrell outsole
- Not for wide feet
Merrell Alverstone Hiking Shoes
The very last Merrell hiking shoe I’ll be taking a look at is another affordable option that earned generally positive feedback from the trekking community. Its name is Merrell Alverstone and it’s a model that provides excellent traction, immediate comfort, and impressive flexibility.
The only major disadvantage of Merrell Alverstone is that its laces untie quite easily. And that’s pretty much it – the model excels in every other department, which is praiseworthy given that it’s quite inexpensive.
Thanks to its M-Select Grip outsole, this shoe delivers genuinely reliable traction. Besides these aggressive lugs, I also liked that Alverstone is both comfortable and (relatively) lightweight: you’ll be able to wear this shoe all day long without having to deal with blisters or hot spots.
Finally, the model optimizes shock absorption with its Air Cushion feature (located at the heel area of the shoe). At the same time, its breathable – and very flexible – upper keeps the bad odors at bay. Once again, an outstanding choice for any day hiker. If you are interested in similar brands, see our Salomon vs Merrell hiking shoe comparison.
- Aggressive lugs bite into all surfaces
- Shock absorption optimization
- Superb comfort & cushioning
- The laces untie easily
Many not-so-experienced outdoor enthusiasts assume that Merrell is among the best footwear brands in the world due to its popularity. And while it’s certainly true that this company designs really good hiking shoes, it’s more of a budget brand when it comes to performance and overall quality.
In some sporting goods chain stores, Merrell will be a top brand. If you, however, go to a backpacking specialty shop or an REI store, you will almost certainly find Merrells on a bottom shelf.
But still, the hiking footwear manufactured by this brand is a very good choice for weekend warriors and average day hikers. There are millions of Merrell lovers everywhere around the world who’d never consider going with any other brand. In summary, if you’re searching for a casual hiking shoe that doesn’t break the bank, you won’t make a mistake by going with Merrell.
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.