Our verdict

They say the third time's a charm, and for the Moab 3 from Merrell, that is quite the case. Indeed, we discovered this third-gen Moab hiker will push you to go further with extraordinary grip, all while charming your feet with plushness all over. Glorious in almost every way, we also appreciate the Moab 3 for being the one to beat when it comes to affordability and value for money.


  • Supremely comfy
  • Zero break-in
  • Boss-level support
  • Solid grip
  • Stable platform
  • Fantastic cushioning
  • Fits various foot shapes
  • Cheaper than average
  • Recycled materials


  • Heavier than average
  • Not quite sleek-looking

Audience verdict


Who should buy the Merrell Moab 3

The Moab 3 is a fantastic continuation of Merrell's Moab (Mother-of-all-boots) series. Buy it if:

  • You're a sunny-day adventurer who needs a pair of breathable hikers.
  • You want a hiking shoe that offers day-one comfort.
  • You want to get the most out of $110.


Who should NOT buy it

If you aren't ready to give up the feeling of light and nimble feet, we recommend the Salomon X Ultra 4 instead. With similar characteristics, it is nearly 100g(!) lighter than the Moab 3.


A ventilator for your summer hikes

If Merrell followed the naming pattern of previous models, this shoe would have been called the Moab 3 Ventilator. And for a good reason. We are happy with the level of breathability provided by this hiking shoe.

Using a smoke-pumping machine, we checked how well the shoe's mesh upper breathes. A large amount of smoke passing through the fabric makes it clear - the Moab scores 4 out of 5 on our breathability test!

The video compares Moab 3 with its waterproof counterpart (Moab 3 GTX)

If you are interested, the shoe is also available in the GTX version: the Moab 3 GTX ($155, Gore-Tex membrane).

Surprisingly, the shoe's tightly woven mesh turned out to be effective in water drainage, based on our experiences when we stepped into creeks. However, we do not recommend its prolonged exposure to rivers, puddles, and rain because the well-padded upper sponges it all up.


As you can see from our microscope shots, large ventilation pores are scattered throughout the fabric.


Will smother your feet in total comfort

There's mighty strong evidence that the Moab 3 is a real blessing comfort-wise.

We found it absolutely comfortable to wear right from the start and we owe a lot of this to the plush cushioning that covered our whole feet.

You can especially notice it in the tongue as it boasts a mighty thick padding of 14.5 mm! In most hiking shoes, the tongue normally stays below 10 mm.


But the comfort doesn't end here. Down underfoot, our foot is welcomed with generous cushioning. We could really feel the spring of the additional cushioning with each step.

It is not like walking on clouds but you are likely to be pleasantly surprised by the cushioning. Based on our durometer measurements, the Moab 3 turns out to be 6.5% softer than hiking shoes on average.


Disclaimer: The durometer measurement is repeated four times. We calculate the average number as our final verdict. The photo above shows one of the measurements.

On our backpacking trips, Moab 3 gave plenty of isolation from rocky trails and extended miles. According to Merrell's official product page, the heel-to-toe drop is 11.5 mm in this shoe.

Equipped with a pair of calipers, we measured the shoe's heel stack at 31.7 mm and the forefoot one at 20.5 mm. This gave us a drop of 11.2 mm. Merrell lives up to its statement.


Disclaimer: We take stack measurements with the insole included.

The insole thickness is consistent with the other Merrell Moab shoes. We found it to be 4.4 mm in the heel.


Transitions are nice and smooth

The Merrell Moab 3 is very far from the traditionally rigid hiking footwear. We discovered that the shoe's flexible design makes it very smooth-walking.

To check the shoe's flexibility, we measure its resistance to being bent. The Moab 3 turned out to be a whopping 70% more flexible than the average hiking shoes that we've tested! It is even 35% more flexible than the average of trail running shoes.

Our manual assessment confirms this. On a 1-5 scale where 1 is the most flexible, we rated the shoe's longitudinal flexibility as 2 out of 5 and its torsional flexibility as 3 out of 5. For reference, the respective averages for hiking shoes are 3.8 and 4.0.

Moab 3 keeps its character in cold weather

We mimic cold-weather conditions by putting the Merrell Moab 3 in a freezer for 20 minutes. After that, the durometer and flexibility measurements are repeated to check how much stiffer the shoe got.


And this Merrell has proven its resilience in harsh conditions!

To our surprise, the Moab 3 got only 27.3% stiffer (less flexible), whereas most hiking shoes stiffened up by 45.8%. However, it did lose its cushioning softness more than other shoes did (23.6% over the average 20.1%).

A charmer in the areas of support and stability

When it comes to support, the Moab 3s are one of the best walking shoes we tested. 

Stability-wise, the featured shoe is also a doozy. We felt like a planted tree in it. Even when we are traversing tricky terrain, this one is great for balance and stability.

It also didn't matter when we brought heavy backpacks on our hiking trips, we still didn't encounter any issues with ankle rolls or instability. 

One of the major contributing factors to stability is of course the nylon shank embedded into the shoe's midsole.


Another contributor is the shoe's nice and wide platform.

Indeed, the Merrell Moab 3 comes with a fairly wide sole. We measured the widest part of the forefoot at 108.8 mm and the widest heel part at 86 mm. Both are around 1 mm wider than average.


Surefooted steps with the Merrell Moab 3

The thick grooves of its sticky outsole provided us with excellent grip on all surfaces.

The meaty Vibram soles also gave us confidence on any slippery inclines.


Merrell states on their official website that the Moab 3 is studded with 5-mm deep lugs.

It is in fact true, based on our own measurements. The caliper shows 4.8 mm but there is also a slight deviation between the different lugs.


In addition to having toothy treads, we realized that the rubber compound on the Moab 3 is relatively firm. 

Checking outsole firmness with a durometer, we cannot say that it is among the hardest rubbers out there. But it is indeed very close to the average for hiking outsoles (only 1.4% softer).   


The Moab 3's astonishing fit

Our trips using the Merrell Moab 3 emphasized that it comes with a remarkable fit. We experienced no hotspots in any area of the shoe.


We are also pleasantly surprised that it can accommodate broad feet without giving the regular-footed testers among us a sloppy in-shoe feeling.

At its widest part (around the metatarsal joints), the Moab 3 is 96 mm wide. This is 2.9 mm narrower than the average and 3.9 mm narrower than the popular Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX. However, what makes the Moab 3 feel so roomy is that its forefoot doesn't get much narrower around the toes. It is 79.5 mm wide around the toes, which is actually 5.6 mm wider than the average!


The presence of a gusseted tongue plays its part in keeping the foot in place.


Heel slippage doesn't seem to be an issue in this hiking shoe either. It's got a medium-stiff heel counter (we rated it 3 out of 5) which has enough padding and structure to it to keep the rear foot secured.

Can make your feet look fat

We recognized that those who are used to slimmer sneakers may find them too chunky for everyday wear, though.


There is a price to pay for all that comfort - it's the weight

The average weight of non-waterproof hiking shoes is 12.2 oz (345g). But the Moab 3 comes with extra heft. It tips the scales at 15.3 oz (434g) per shoe in a men's US 9. Due to this, we concluded that it's not as nimble as many modern alternatives.


A best friend to limited budgets

With an MSRP of $110, the Moab 3 is $20 cheaper than the average price of hiking shoes ($130).