There’s nothing quite like hiking. The scents and sounds of mother nature, the fresh mountain air, and the unforgettable views – what’s not to like? However, just like most outdoor activities, hiking requires adequate equipment.
When shopping for outdoor gear, people often focus on jackets and backpacks. While these are essential, nothing beats the importance of footwear – hiking shoes and hiking boots, to be more precise. After all, it’s the footwear that suffers more wear and tear than all other gear combined.
Today, we’ve decided to focus on two acclaimed manufacturers of hike boots and shoes – Merrel and Salomon. Which one of these two brands makes the best footwear? Let’s compare them side by side and find an answer to that question:
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Are Merrell Shoes of Good Quality?
Established in 1981, Merrell was the vision of John Schweizer, Clark Matis, and Randy Merrell.
As the brand’s name suggests, Randy was the project’s mastermind – he already had a lot of experience with making custom hiker boots. Together, these guys decided to focus on designing and manufacturing footwear that will offer top-notch performance at an affordable price.
Nowadays, Merrell is one of the most renowned manufacturers of outdoor apparel, particularly when it comes to footwear. Each hike boot or shoe produced by this company guarantees quality and durability while also coming at a reasonable price. Merrell Moab 2 shoes, which we’ll be taking a look at later, are a great example of this.
When talking about Merrel vs Salomon, it’s important to mention that both of these brands rely on sustainable means of production. In other words, Merrell aims to use as much natural materials as possible (like leather) while also using some synthetic ones (like nylon and polyester).
Some of the most renowned technologies used by Merrell include Kinetic Fit insole (a special kind of design that offers support to the arch and heel of the wearer’s foot) and M-Select Dry waterproof membrane (unfortunately, the already mentioned Merrell Moab 2 hiking shoes are not water-resistant). When it comes to outsoles, Merrell mostly relies on Vibram.
In terms of price, this brand provides a reasonable cost range for most of their hiking boots and shoes. Their lightweight, less-technical models start at around $80, while their top-notch offerings go up to around $250. A Merrell hiking shoe or boot coming at this price will provide excellent protection, comfort, and grip.
Merrell Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoes
Out of all hiking boots and shoes manufactured by this company, Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoes serve as the best example of the company’s aim to offer expertly crafted footwear at genuinely affordable prices.
While not waterproof, Merrell Moab 2 is a great choice for those who need a light shoe for day hikes and trail running. Unlike most hikers boots, Moab 2 is a lot more lightweight, at mere 1.93 pounds. As such, it’s a hiking shoe that works best for short, moderate ventures.
Just like every shoe manufactured by Merrell, Moab 2 can be taken straight from the box to the trail. It comes with a generously spacious foot box and laces that are thick and easy to untie. However, if you don’t find the model’s laces to your liking, keep in mind that you can always replace them with the better ones.
Due to its mesh upper, Merrell Moab 2 is also breathable and pleasant to wear in warm weather. The support, on the other hand, is more than sufficient for light hiking needs. The insole is quite beefy – Moab 2 is a hiking shoe that provides good torsional rigidity.
When it comes to traction, this shoe grips most surfaces well thanks to its Vibram outsole. While not as rugged as your standard hiking boot, the model performs well in mud, snow, as well as on dry and wet rocks. In fact, its overall traction matches that of the far more expensive trail running shoes.
In terms of durability, these shoes are more than capable of withstanding a lot of trail abuse. The breathable mesh located in the upper is protected by a suede leather overlay, while the outsoles show no signs of wear and tear even after hundreds of miles of walking. A well-designed rubber toe cap also deserves a mention.
All in all, Moab 2 offers excellent comfort, support, and traction. It’s one of the best options in its price range, which is often the case with footwear made by Merrell. An important thing to mention here is that the company also offers a waterproof version of Moab 2, which costs $25 more.
Is Salomon a Good Brand?
Established in 1947 in Annecy, France, Salomon started out as a metal working shop. Seven decades later, this brand is one of the world’s most renowned manufacturers of outdoor clothing and gear. Their range of products is stunningly diverse and covers activities such as hiking, trail running, snowboarding, and skiing.
When it comes to footwear, this company’s hiking boots and shoes are manufactured from a wide variety of materials and range extensively in terms of performance. There’s something for everyone – from boots that can be used on all kinds of terrain to comfortable, lightweight shoes.
Besides using a variety of materials and manufacturing techniques to design and create footwear, the company also heavily relies on cutting-edge technologies as one of the most innovative brands on the market. Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX is a great example of how feature-packed the company’s boots often are – we’ll take a closer look at it later.
Besides Gore-Tex, a waterproofing technology used by many other brands, Salomon boots and shoes often come with Contagrip soles. These are of great help when it comes to traction, and make footwear feel stable and secure in rugged terrain.
Salomon’s OrthoLite die cut insole technology deserves special praise. Not only does it provide great comfort to the wearer’s foot, but it also promotes high breathability. Other proprietary technologies worth mentioning are Advanced Chassis and SensiFit.
In addition, a lot of boots and shoes made by this company usually come with a protective toe cap, as well as with a gusseted tongue whose purpose is to stop the dirt from getting inside the footwear as you’re walking. Pricewise, their products are more expensive than Merrell’s – after all, Salomon’s boots and shoes are made out of premium materials and sport more bells and whistles.
Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX
There are a lot of good things about Salomon as a brand, but the naming convention they use for their footwear isn’t one.
The boots we’re about to analyze here shouldn’t be confused with Salomon X Ultra 3, their low-top, more lightweight offering. We will, however, compare these two options throughout the rest of the text, as one of them may be more suitable for your needs than the other.
In the battle called Merrell vs Salomon, Salomon definitely takes the cake when it comes to durability. Both Salomon X Ultra 3 and Mid 3 GTX are outstandingly durable, with the latter one being particularly resistant to abrasion. After all, Mid GTX is the company’s high-top offering made to endure all kinds of trail conditions.
Furthermore, Mid GTX weighs more (2.28 pounds) than Salomon X Ultra 3 (1.93 pounds). As such, it provides more support and stability to its wearer. It also offers better traction, due to the already-mentioned Contagrip soles the company uses on most of its footwear. The lug pattern found on Mid 3 GTX is a true lifesaver when it comes to muddy and wet terrain.
However, this doesn’t mean that the company’s lighter offering, Salomon X Ultra 3, can’t be used for the more demanding outdoor adventures. Just like its taller and heavier cousin, this shoe performs well on all kinds of terrain. The fact that it’s also more nimble than Mid 3 GTX turns it into a better option for ultralight backpackers.
However, Salomon X Ultra 3 lacks the ruggedness of its bigger (and pricier) cousin. Mid 3 GTX is a proven performer when it comes to intense thru-hikes, and a much better option for professional outdoorsmen. X Ultra 3, on the other hand, is more suitable for those who like to pick up the pace and move fast and light.
All in all, Salomon X Ultra Mid 3 GTX is a fantastic option for hikers who need more stability to carry heavier packs. And, as we said before, it’s a great example of how versatile and feature-packed the boots made by this company are, particularly when compared to more budget-oriented brands such as Merrell.
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Which Brand of Hiking Shoes is the Best?
Salomon vs Merrel – which brand is a better choice? The answer will depend on what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for an affordable pair of hiking shoes that provide decent support and traction, you won’t go wrong with Merrell. The footwear made by this company isn’t so popular just because of the reasonable prices – their shoes and boots are both durable and comfortable.
On the other hand, those who need jam-packed boots that they’re going to use for long hikes on challenging terrains should opt for Salomon instead. While pricier, footwear offered by this company uses premium materials and technologies to provide the best hiking experience possible.
I love hiking. 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.