This is a good everyday walking boot – comfortable and reliable, with versatile all-round performance and an accommodating fit.
Low ankle cuff even for a mid
Run warm in hot weather
Not the lightest
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Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX: first impressions
The Merrell Moab was first released back in 2007 and was one of the first modern mid-cut hiking boots. Combining the stability and protection of a boot with the reduced weight and easy-wearing feel of a trail shoe, the concept proved a huge success. Since its introduction, Merrell has sold over 25 million pairs of Moabs, which, according to the brand, makes it the world’s best-selling hiker. But does this latest version remain one of the very best hiking boots?
• RRP: $165 (US) / £130 (UK)
• Gender availability: Male / female versions
• Weight (per boot, size UK 12 / US 13): 593g / 20.9oz
• Materials: Pigskin leather and mesh upper; Gore-Tex membrane; 100% recycled mesh lining; Merrell Air Cushion heel; Vibram TC5+ outsole
• Colors: Black & Gray / Beluga / Granite & Poseidon / Olive / Pecan
• Compatibility: Good, reliable boots, ideal for day walks and longer hikes in good conditions, but not mountain or mid-winter epics
These days, there’s plenty of competition in the 'mid-cut boot' category from other outdoor brands, but the Moab continues to hold its own. In some ways, it is even more trainer-like than most mids thanks to its relatively low ankle cuff. This might be seen as a drawback in terms of overall protection and support, but it’s a definite plus when it comes to flexibility and comfort. Of course, if you want even more freedom for your feet, there’s also a low-cut trail shoe version.
Comfort is really the key to the Moab’s success, in all its guises. It is exceptionally comfortable straight out of the box. The accommodating fit, wide toe box and plush padded ankle collar also means there’s no break-in time – you can pretty much just lace ’em up and go.
The latest third generation model, the Moab 3, has had a few upgrades too. Slightly redesigned uppers now have smaller mesh panels and more robust pigskin suede leather for enhanced durability, backed with a waterproof and breathable Gore-Tex liner. In common with trends in the wider outdoor industry, Merrell has focused on making the Moab more sustainable too. The mesh panelling, the webbing and laces are all now made from recycled materials. That’s a significant step forward in environmental terms when you consider just how many pairs of these boots are sold worldwide – but their robust build should also ensure that they last a long time, ensuring sustainability through longevity.
The midsole delivers a good balance of stability and cushioning, with a bit more arch support than most mid boots. The Vibram outsole also has chunky 5mm lugs for dependable traction. All in all, it’s a solid and well-built package.
Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX: on the trails
Our testing ground for the Merrell Moab 3 Mid has been the mountains of Snowdonia, North Wales – one of the UK’s most iconic national parks. It’s known for its varied terrain and even more variable weather. Conditions have ranged from hot, dry and sunny days to torrential rain.
The Moabs have coped well in almost all weathers, which is testament to their versatility. The Gore-Tex liner has kept our feet reliably dry and mostly comfortable, and the bellows tongue enables you to negotiate puddles or slightly boggy ground with confidence – just don’t expect to wade too deep, since this is after all only a mid-cut boot, and it’s easy to overtop the relatively low ankle cuff. Only the warmest days make them feel occasionally hot and a little sticky – but then, that’s a drawback of almost all Gore-Tex boots, especially those that use a mostly leather construction like the Moabs.
They were comfortable from the get-go and have continued to remain so as they’ve worn in. The tongue and ankle cuff are well-padded, and underfoot you get a good balance of support and cushioning to help alleviate foot fatigue. We particularly like the air cushion in the heel, which provides good impact absorption – but this is also teamed with a structured instep to give you improved arch support too. It really comes into its own on hard-packed trails.
The Moab’s chunky design also gives excellent all-round foot protection, with a builtup heel counter and toe bumper. The well-proven Vibram outsole delivers solid grip, notably downhill, thanks to deeper lugs and a more undercut heel breast.
Let’s be clear – it’s still not a boot for hardcore hillwalking or big mountain adventures, and it is slightly heavier than many 'mid-cut' rivals. But it remains a versatile all-rounder – ideal for day hiking.
An outdoors writer and editor, Matt Jones has been testing kit in the field for nearly a decade. Having worked for both the Ramblers and the Scouts, he knows one or two things about walking and camping, and loves all things adventure, particularly long-distance backpacking, wild camping and climbing mountains – especially in Wales. He’s based in Snowdonia and last year thru-hiked the Cambrian Way, which runs for 298 miles from Cardiff to Conwy, with a total ascent of 73,700 feet – that’s nearly 2½ times the height of Everest. Follow Matt on Instagram and Twitter.
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