Our verdict

Once again, the Merrell Moab boot has made it to our top picks for day hiking. We can always rely on this outdoor classic for a blend of comfort, stability, and surefootedness all served under a reasonable price tag. If you are new to hiking, we believe you will have no regrets about choosing the Moab 3 Mid GTX. It will keep you most comfortable during cold weather and a moderately challenging hike.

Pros

  • Best-in-class waterproofing
  • Great stability for moderate hikes
  • Supportive for all-day wear
  • Plenty of impact protection
  • Comfortable step-in feel
  • Excellent grip on hard terrain
  • Secure lockdown
  • Sturdy construction

Cons

  • Mesh panels are easy to tear
  • Not for mud or soft terrain
  • Only for cold weather (below 15°C)

Audience verdict

83
Good!

Who should buy

In our opinion, it's hard to go wrong with the Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX if you are after the following:

  • a solid boot for hiking moderate terrain with an average-sized pack
  • a comfort-loaded boot with enough support for all-day wear
  • a mid-cut boot with world-class Gore-Tex waterproofing (ready for ankle-deep creeks and puddles)

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX review

Who should NOT buy

The Moab 3 Mid GTX is a fantastic all-purpose boot but it has its limitations when the hiker's demands get more specific.

If you want all the support and stability a mid-cut boot can provide (for backpacking especially), consider the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX instead. It is one of the sturdiest boots in the same price range and has better grip for technical and muddy terrain.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX lab test

If you want a nimbler companion for lighter and speedier hikes (with a lighter pack), look into the Merrell Moab Speed Mid GTX.

And if you want all the benefits of the Moab 3 Mid GTX minus the high collar, the low-top Moab 3 GTX shoe is always available too! And it's $15 cheaper.

Breathability

Since we are reviewing the waterproof GTX (GORE-TEX) version of the Moab 3 Mid, breathability is not to be expected here.

The boot's thick watertight construction didn't let any air pass through the upper, as our smoke-pumping test above shows. Without a flicker of doubt, we gave it the lowest breathability score of 1 out of 5.

Wearing the Moab 3 GTX is not the best idea if you hike in temperatures above 70°F (20°C). Sweaty feet and blisters are guaranteed!

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX microscope test

Don't be tricked by the mesh lining - it is only the topmost layer of the boot's upper. The waterproof membrane is hiding right beneath it.

For warmer weather, you should get the non-waterproof version of the boot instead (and it's even $40 cheaper).

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 1
Average 1.6
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Waterproofing

The boot's waterproofing, on the other hand, is stellar! The GTX membrane has been up to the task as we submerged the Moab 3 Mid in ankle-deep puddles and creeks. We can also confirm that this Merrell boot can handle moderate rain, slush, and snow.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX gore-tex membrane

As long as the water doesn't spill over the boot's collar and seep inside the boot, your feet are going to stay dry and warm.

But here is the caveat - once you rip that membrane, the whole boot loses its waterproofing capacity. Does the upper of this Merrell boot have enough wear resistance to prevent that? Let's find out.

Durability

Toebox durability

Even though the boot features reinforcements all over the upper (rubber toe cap, toe rand, and suede overlays), it still has quite a few areas with exposed mesh. Unfortunately, that material does not stand strong against aggressive wear and tear.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX toebox

If you frequently slash your boots against rocky ridges or wade through sharp bushes, this textile is going to give up rather quickly.

To mimic the abrasion from hours of trail wear, we applied a Dremel with a sandpaper tip to the shoe's toebox mesh. The speed (5K RPM) and pressure (3.2N) remained consistent. After 12 seconds of exposure, the tool completely burned through the top layer of mesh and notably scratched the inner lining. Unfortunately, waterproofing is no longer guaranteed after this sort of damage.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Toebox durability comparison

Assessing the toebox durability of the Moab 3 Mid GTX under these conditions, we couldn't rate it any higher than 3 out of 5. This is slightly better than the toebox of the Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX (on the right) where the tool got all the way through the upper material.

If you are worried about tearing your hiking boots too soon, have a look at the Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX. This boot comes from the same price range but the wear resistance of its synthetic upper is on another level.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 3
Average 4.4
Compared to 22 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

As our next Dremel test shows, the inner lining of the Moab 3 Mid GTX happens to be much more wear-resistant than the boot's outer mesh.

Following 4 seconds of drilling the textile at 5K RPM speed, you can't even tell that this Merrell boot was touched with sandpaper. Even the more expensive Anacapa boot (on the right) faltered in the same test.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Heel padding durability comparison

Thus, we proudly rate the boot's heel lining durability with the maximum score - 5 out of 5!

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 5
Average 4
Compared to 22 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

If you check our top picks among hiking boots, you will see that nearly every boot features a Vibram rubber outsole. It's like a label of higher quality in the realm of outdoor footwear.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX vibram

The Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX also uses Vibram's TC5+ rubber which was exclusively developed for the brand.

Let's see if it meets our high-set expectations.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Outsole hardness

For starters, we checked the hardness of the TC5+ rubber with a Shore C durometer and it showed a solid high reading of 85.0 HC. This is quite reassuring.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 84.9 HC
Average 87.6 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
81.0 HC
Outsole hardness
92.1 HC

Outsole durability

However, when we turned to the Dremel in our abrasion resistance test, we found that the shoe's Vibram rubber was not as special as we had anticipated.

Having drilled the shoe's rubber outsole for 22 seconds at 10K RPM speed, we noticed that the sandpaper carved out a pretty notable dent in the outsole.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Outsole durability test

Measuring it with a tread gauge confirmed our observation showing a slightly deeper than average reading of 1.2 mm.

While this is not catastrophic, it makes this Merrell boot less likely to outlast its counterparts when it comes to outsole durability.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 1.2 mm
Average 0.8 mm
Compared to 19 hiking boots
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

Gladly, the Moab 3 Mid GTX features a generous amount of rubber in the outsole. This is a huge bonus to its lifespan.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Outsole thickness

Our caliper measurement shows 4.1 mm which is a millimeter thicker than the average. And the total thickness is even greater if you add 5-mm lugs on top of that.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 4.1 mm
Average 3.1 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1.8 mm
Outsole thickness
5.6 mm

Weight

Based on our personal experience, the Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX doesn't feel particularly heavy but it does feel substantial on foot.

Tipping the scale at 17.5 oz (495g), it is even an ounce lighter than the average hiking boot in our lab.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Weight

Compared to other mid-cut waterproof hiking boots in the same price range ($160-$180), the Moab 3 Mid GTX sits between the heavier KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Mid (18.2 oz/515g) and the lighter Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX (14.5 oz/412g).

Even though we have no complaints about the boot's weight, some hikers may find it too burly for their outdoor activities. Speed hiking, for example, calls for much lighter and more nimble boots like the Merrell Moab Speed Mid GTX (11.7 oz/332g).

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX shoe weight

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 17.46 oz (495g)
Average 18.45 oz (523g)
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
11.71 oz (332g)
Weight
28.29 oz (802g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

The Moab 3 Mid GTX showed great long-distance capacity during our wear tests.

We can confirm that it packs enough impact protection for long hours on the trail. Our feet felt very well taken care of throughout the hike.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Heel stack

Measuring the heel stack of this Merrell boot, we got a reading of 36.1 mm on our caliper. It is notably taller than the KEEN Targhee III Waterproof Mid (31.1 mm) and is on par with the Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX (36.7 mm).

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 36.1 mm
Average 36.3 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
26.2 mm
Heel stack
46.9 mm

Forefoot stack

The Moab Mid 3 GTX doesn't skimp on forefoot protection either.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Forefoot stack

There is 22.6 mm of sole material separating the ball of your foot from the trail. It is an average forefoot stack reading for hiking boots but we found that it does a great job muting out rocks and roots underfoot.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 22.6 mm
Average 22.5 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
17.0 mm
Forefoot stack
30.7 mm

Drop

In its official specs, Merrell lists 11.5 mm as the boot's heel-to-toe drop. However, our lab stack measurements showed it to be slightly higher (13.5 mm).

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Drop

But in reality, the two offsets feel quite similar, especially if you are new to hiking.

A heel-to-toe drop within the 10-14 mm range is optimal for entry-level hikers as it elevates the heel above the toes just enough to take the pressure off the Achilles, especially when a heavier load is involved.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 13.5 mm
Average 13.8 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
2.6 mm
Drop
20.9 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The Moab 3 Mid GTX feels nice and comfortable but its cushioning can't be categorized as plush.

Showing 32.8 HA on our Shore A durometer, the boot's midsole foam turns out to be 20% firmer than the average.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Midsole softness

However, it feels a little softer under the heel than the static reading might suggest. This is thanks to the Merrell Air Cushion technology which is comprised of a softer piece of foam (24.6 HA) and a hollowed-out section beneath it.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX air cushion

We found it to be a nice way to add some comfort to the ride without compromising the boot's firmness for stability.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 32.8 HA
Average 27.3 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
15.4 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
53.3 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

Considering the boot's warm and waterproof construction, it only makes sense that it is meant for the colder season. But how does its cushioning behave when the temperatures drop? Let's find out.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Difference in midsole softness in cold

We mimicked winter conditions with the help of a freezer for 20 minutes. After that, we repeated the durometer measurement and discovered that the boot's midsole foam firmed up rather moderately (by 14.5%).

But compared to other hiking boots, it did get pretty firm showing 37.5 HA on the tool.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 14.5%
Average 19.1%
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Insole thickness

The Moab 3 Mid GTX amplifies underfoot comfort by adding a well-padded insole. We found it to be 6.0 mm thick in the heel which is a typical measurement for hiking boots.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Insole thickness

What's more, this insole is also very ergonomically contoured which contributes to the comfort.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 6.0 mm
Average 6.1 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
3.7 mm
Insole thickness
10.7 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

For a mid-cut boot intended for moderate hiking conditions, we believe that the Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX has excellent lateral stability.

Even if you are a beginner hiker with mild overpronation, you will find ample support in this Merrell boot. It may lack the stability needed for multi-day hikes with a heavy backpack but it will keep you covered for a single-day adventure with a medium pack.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX arch support

Torsional rigidity

With a stiff nylon shank embedded into its midfoot section, this Merrell boot has a good amount of torsional rigidity to prevent the wearer's ankle from collapsing. We never felt tippy during the wear tests.

When we tried to twist the boot in our manual test, the give was very minimal. Thus, it got a fairly high stiffness score of 4 out of 5.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 4
Average 4.3
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

Our heels and ankles also felt secure inside the Moab 3 Mid GTX. The boot offers a great deal of ankle support through its raised and well-padded collar as well as the stiff heel counter.

Assessing the latter on a 1-5 scale, we gave it a high score of 4 out of 5.

As you can see, this Merrell boot didn't get the highest possible scores for stiffness but this is what helped it feel a little more comfortable on foot.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX heels

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 4
Average 3.5
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Despite its seemingly chunky build, the Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX has failry average platform dimensions.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Midsole width in the forefoot

Measuring the shoe's midsole in the widest area of the forefoot, we got nothing more than the average reading of 111.9 mm.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 111.9 mm
Average 111.6 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
96.3 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
124.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

The widest part of the boot's heel also showed a standard measurement of 88.8 mm. We believe that this Merrell boot has enough landing area for most hiking scenarios.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 88.8 mm
Average 87.9 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
71.7 mm
Midsole width in the heel
106.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Even though the Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX feels pretty rigid torsionally, we were surprised to find that its forefoot flexes relatively easily.

Measuring how much force it takes to bend the shoe to a 90-degree angle, our force gauge showed 29.6N. That's an impressive 50% less than it takes an average hiking boot!

One more bonus point for comfort.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 29.6N
Average 44.3N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
16.6N
Stiffness
84.7N

Difference in stiffness in cold

But do expect to lose about 25% of that flexibility in cold conditions.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Difference in stiffness in cold

This is how much stiffer the Moab 3 Mid GTX got after we had kept it in the freezer for 20 minutes. But the good news is that this Merrell boot did not get nearly as stiff as most other hiking boots after the same test (54.0N).

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 24.9%
Average 25.4%
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
100%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

First of all, we are happy to report that our caliper measurements confirmed the brand specs - the boot's lug depth is precisely 5.0 mm!

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Lug depth

The grip offered by these deep treads and the Vibram TC5+ rubber did not falter during our wear tests.

The Moab 3 Mid GTX kept us surefooted as we navigated rocks and creeks and stepped on wet grass and mossy logs.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX outsole

However, we wouldn't recommend this Merrell boot for squelching through mud and soft terrain. Even though its lugs are deep, they are not sharp and toothy enough for these conditions. The Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX has a more aggressive treading for challenges like that.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX vs Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid GTX lugs

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 5.0 mm
Average 4.2 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
3.0 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Our medium-width feet were treated to a pretty accommodating toebox on the Moab 3 Mid GTX.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX fit

In our opinion, this Merrell boot will suit folks with medium and slightly wide feet perfectly. And our caliper is here to back that up.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Toebox width at the widest part

The widest part of the boot's toebox comes in at 101.8 mm which is on par with the average width for a US 9 size and D-medium width.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 101.8 mm
Average 101.8 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
95.5 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
110.2 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

We also measured the boot's toebox in its narrower part (where the big toe ends) and got a slightly wider-than-average reading of 80.4 mm. A little bonus for swelling feet.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 80.4 mm
Average 78.4 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
67.6 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
91.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

The Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX features a bellows tongue design in which the tongue is fully connected to the boot's upper. This eliminates all gaps in the upper blocking water, dirt, and debris from entering the boot.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Tongue: gusset type

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX Both sides (full)

Comfort

Tongue padding

Comfort has always been a priority in the Merrell Moab boots. And ample padding has been an important component of their cozy step-in feel.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Tongue padding

Measuring the boot's tongue thickness, we found that it is a few millimeters thicker than average at 14.3 mm.

An equal amount of padding is also packed around the boot's collar, creating a 360-degree comfort around the foot and ankle.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX 14.3 mm
Average 11.2 mm
Compared to 26 hiking boots
Number of shoes
5.9 mm
Tongue padding
22.3 mm

Heel tab

A finger loop is attached at the back of the boot for your on-and-off convenience.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Heel tab
Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX Finger loop

Removable insole

Because the boot's insole is easily removable, there is an option to use your own orthotics if needed.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX Removable insole
Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

The boot's webbed eyelets have reflective strings on them to help you stay visible in low-light conditions.

Test results
Moab 3 Mid GTX Yes

Sustainable materials

Touted as Merrell's most eco-friendly Moab yet, several of the boot's components are made of recycled materials. These include:

  • laces
  • webbing
  • mesh lining

Merrell Moab 3 Mid GTX laces