5 Best Merrell Hiking Shoes in 2024

Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto on
5 Best Merrell Hiking Shoes in 2024
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Are you in search of a well-rounded hiker? Maybe something that can keep your feet well-ventilated? Or how about a hiking shoe that excels in the water? Whatever your fancy, we got a top pick waiting for you here.

We’ve thoroughly tested Merrell hiking shoes to help you pick the right one. We have really given our best shot at every shoe to deliver you the downright and all-in review. We abused them on the hikes and we examined them top-to-bottom in our lab while doing the tests on breathability, durability, stiffness, softness. Featured below are those that came on top in different categories and their runners-up.

How we test hiking shoes

Coming up with the best Merrell hiking shoes is no easy feat. That said, we at RunRepeat take such a challenge seriously. Here’s how we do it:

  • We purchase Merrell hikers using our own funds. This way, we can focus on delivering professional and objective reviews each time.
  • We put every Merrell pair to the test by hiking in them for weeks on a variety of terrain types. We also use each one rigorously in the setting it is mainly built for.
  • We take our sweet time in measuring the parameters of the shoes. Additionally, we analyse each data in a way that you could easily wrap your mind around each result. And to top it all off, we cut the shoes in half to disclose what makes up the footwear.

Best Merrell hiking shoes overall

What makes it the best?

After extensive tests in the lab and hours spent hiking, we found that nothing can beat the Merrel Moab 3 GTX when it comes to comfort! From day one, the padded heel and thick 14.6 mm tongue ensured that we didn’t have to break it in.

We squeezed the padded heel counter in the lab and awarded it a 4/5 for stiffness. 5 being the stiffest, we found this stiff heel works well at keeping our feet from moving around in the shoe - bye-bye blisters!

The cushioned midsole kept a spring in our step while out hiking. In the lab, we applied a durometer and found the midsole measures 36 HA. 9% firmer than average, it kept our feet protected from sharp objects, while still giving that cushioned feel which kept us going all day.

The Gore-Tex membrane made sure that our feet didn't suffer in the rain, either. Together with a fully gusseted tongue, the waterproofing kept out the worst of the weather, and our feet remained bone dry.

Even in sub-zero temperatures, this shoe is a high achiever. We simulated winter conditions by putting it in the freezer for 20 minutes and then checking its flexibility. Pushing it to 90° with a force gauge, we found that it remained 50% more flexible than most other hiking shoes! That means that, even at low temps, it keeps much of the cushioned feel we love.

This hiking shoe is not the best choice for multi-day hikes and we don’t recommend it to hikers carrying heavy rucksacks. It lacks additional support to make it capable of dealing with hefty loads on uneven terrain.

Pros

  • Superb day-one comfort
  • Brilliant surface adhesion
  • Supportive like a work shoe
  • Fantastic cushioning underfoot
  • Remarkably durable
  • A-grade waterproofing
  • Sheds mud quite well
  • Protective toe box
  • Incredible overall quality

Cons

  • Heavy for a low-top
  • Subpar breathability
  • Its shoelaces unravel often
Full review of Merrell Moab 3 GTX

Merrell hiking shoes with the best breathability

Merrell Moab 3
88
Great!

What makes it the best?

We performed extensive lab analyses and took all our Merrell shoes on test hikes to find out which was the most breathable. The winner was hands down the Merrell Moab 3 which comes in top place for its superbly breathable upper, grippy outsole, and stability, making it an excellent choice for long day hikes in summer!

There is no doubt that the Merrell Moab 3 is a highly breathable shoe. Our microscope images showed large ventilation holes in the tightly woven fabric, and when we performed our traditional smoke test, it scored an impressive 4/5 for breathability. 5 is the most breathable, and the average for hiking shoes is 2.3, so the Moab 3 definitely classes as breathable!

We feel at home wherever we take the Moab 3, breezing along rocky and uneven trails without complaint. In the lab, we measured the lug depth as 4.8 mm, 0.5 mm deeper than average. The outsole is also slightly softer than average, with our durometer reading 85.4 HC compared to the average 86.1 HC. This added softness makes a big difference to the traction, improving our grip on hard, smooth surfaces in particular.

We experienced a great lockdown, helped by the gusseted tongue and medium-stiff heel counter. The nylon shank in the midsole gives the shoe good overall stability. We measured the width of the outsole at 108.8 mm at the forefoot and 86 mm at the heel. At around average for hiking shoes, the Merrell Moab 3 has a nice stable platform which makes it easy to trust our footing.

All this excellence comes at a price, and in the case of the Merrell Moab 3, that price is weight. The Merell Moab 3 weighs in at 16.2 oz (460g), 3.3 oz (165g) heavier than average. For hikers wanting to clock up a lot of mileage, we don’t recommend these shoes.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Heavier than average
  • Not quite sleek-looking
Full review of Merrell Moab 3

Best Merrel hiking shoes for speed hiking

What makes it the best?

The Merrell Moab Speed GTX lives up to its name and rocked our lab tests and trial hikes, coming out as the best Merrell shoe for speed hiking. Boasting a springy midsole and a grippy outsole, beautifully packaged in a lightweight shoe, this is our go-to shoe for our fast-and-light hikes.

This is a shoe that wants to run, and we found ourselves bounding along the trail! We twisted the shoe in the lab, awarding it a 4/5 for torsional rigidity, putting it among the more rigid shoes. Our force gauge confirmed these findings, registering a whopping 54N for flexibility - a big change from the average of 36.4N. Evidently rigid, it has excellent rebound, and we felt it was a cross between a trail running and a hiking shoe.

While the 4 mm lugs are 0.3 mm shallower than average, their wide spacing sheds mud easily, allowing us to maintain traction on softer ground. The softer-than-average outsole balances grip with durability, and at 84.5 HC it sticks well to smooth, hard surfaces such as wet rock. Such versatile traction is good news for our speed hikes because we feel surefooted on whatever the trail throws at us.

We feel light and agile in this shoe. Weighing in at 12.1 oz (343g), the Merrell Moab Speed GTX shaves off 1.8 oz (52g) from the average for waterproof hiking shoes. Despite its impermeable Gore-Tex membrane, it is by no means a clunky shoe, and our legs still had energy to spare by the end of a hard day.

With an advertised heel-to-toe drop of 10 mm, we were surprised to find that our lab measurements told another story. Measuring a drop of 15.6 mm, 3.6 mm higher than average, we don’t recommend this shoe to hikers who prefer a more natural feel to their stride.

Pros

  • Plush on day one
  • Watertight
  • Sticky
  • Featherweight
  • Stabilising
  • Incredibly supportive
  • Propelling

Cons

  • Unflattering heel fit
  • Frail outsole
Full review of Merrell Moab Speed GTX

Merrell hiking shoes with the best comfort

What makes it the best?

The incredibly plush Accentor 3 from Merrell is here, and completely blew our minds with its 5-star comfort! From ultra-cushioned landings, supportive yet pliable steps, and even a perfectly padded tongue, our feet felt coddled and encouraged to hike further. Not for nothing did we choose the Merrell Accentor 3 as the most comfortable Merrell hiking shoe!

From the moment we slipped on the Accentor 3, it was clear that this is an incredibly comfortable hiking shoe. When we cut the shoe in half, we found the Merrell Air Cushion tucked into the heel. Measuring 18 HA with our durometer, the Air Cushion is 47% softer than the surrounding foam. On our hikes, our landings were pillowy while the firmer foam of the midsole kept our feet protected and supported.

The supportive nylon shank in the midsole provides a sturdy landing platform, helping this shoe to feel stable while hiking. Given the existence of the shank, we were surprised to find that it exceeded our expectations in our lab flexibility test. Pushing it with a force gauge required only 18.7N to reach 90°, making the Merrell Accentor 3 56.7% more flexible than average! It makes for a relaxed ride whilst remaining supportive.

We felt a secure but comfortable lockdown in the midfoot. The lacing connects to the shank, keeping our feet well locked in. We experienced no lace bite across our instep, and when we measured the tongue with a calliper, we found it measures 11 mm, 1.3 mm thicker than average. It definitely contributes to the comfortable ride.

We don’t recommend the Merrell Accentor 3 for summer hiking. It won the battle against the smoke in our breathability tests, and we had to give it the lowest score of 1/5 for breathability. On warmer days, our feet get hot and sweaty, and it could lead to blisters.

Pros

  • Stellar support
  • Amazingly comfortable
  • Performs well in the cold
  • Can gobble up miles
  • Versatile grip
  • Alleviates foot pain
  • Fits like a glove
  • Roomy and durable toebox
  • Very easy to put on
  • Budget-friendly
  • Sustainably made

Cons

  • Lacklustre breathability
  • Could be lighter
  • Unruly laces
Full review of Merrell Accentor 3

Best budget Merrell hiking shoes

What makes it the best?

Merrell Alverstone 2 is a stable and reliable partner in our outdoor adventures. It has strong adhesion and protection from the most challenging terrains and delivers consistent performance across our lab tests in sub-zero temperatures. To top it off, it only costs £110! That’s 28% below the average hiking shoe, making it our best-budget pair from Merrell.

Our durometer reveals a tough 91.6 HC outsole that offers reliable underfoot protection, especially on rugged terrains with debris. While this measurement usually means more focus on durability, we were relieved by its remarkable traction on loose ground, wet trails, and rocky paths. The 4-mm lugs added to our surefootedness.

The cushioning is a healthy mix of impact protection and intuitive toe-offs due to its 30.6/16.6 mm stack. Under the heel is a softer pocket of foam with a durometer measurement of 27.3 HA, highlighting comfort. Meanwhile, the main foam is a firmer 35.4 HA, adding stability to our strides.

To boost comfort, Alverstone 2 keeps its midsole flexible, which our bend test confirms is 30.2% more adaptive than average. Because it barely resists our foot flexion, it feels comfy for all-day treks. Even in cold conditions, its flexibility barely changes, stiffening up by only 6.5% vs. the 32.6% average. The well-insulated upper is also extremely suitable for cold weather, so best to avoid summer hikes with this one.

Pros

  • Reliable grip and traction
  • Can tackle technical terrain
  • Accommodating toebox
  • Smooth and stable ride
  • Good for winter hikes
  • Budget-friendly
  • Sustainably built

Cons

  • Too hot for summer hikes
  • Not ideal for narrow feet
  • Midsole may be too firm for some
Full review of Merrell Alverstone 2

Merrell has been making high-quality performance gear since 1981. What started as a business primarily focused on designing and manufacturing hiking boots has developed into one of the industry’s most trusted brand names, especially regarding hiking shoes.

merrell-moab-3-review.JPG

Core Components of Merrel Hiking Shoes

  1. Durable and long-lasting materials
  2. Available weatherproofing
  3. Supportive and cushioning midsoles
  4. Reliable traction for off-pavement travel
  5. Low-cut design to reduce bulkiness without losing performance  

Durable materials and construction of Merrell hiking shoes

The durability of Merrel’s hiking shoes is related to material choice, the technology used, duration of use, terrain type, and how the shoes are stored.

Regarding materials used in the upper of the shoe, you will likely encounter leather, Nubuck leather, or synthetic materials. Most of the time, synthetic materials are more prone to abrasion than leather. However, synthetic materials continue to get stronger.

merrell-moab-3-gtx-protection.JPG

Toe bumper technology is a critical component of a shoe’s durability. The fronts of our shoes go through intense wear and tear on the trail. As a result, separating between the upper and midsole or outsole is a common failure point. Toe caps help prevent this, like those on the Merrel Moab 3.

Breathable and waterproof options from Merrel 

Breathability of a shoe is the result of the materials used in its construction. Typically, synthetic nylon and mesh materials have the best breathability. On the other hand, materials like full-grain and nubuck leather tend to breathe less.

Here is a video illustrating the difference between the breathable Moab 3 and its waterproof GTX version.

Each Merrell hiking shoe reviewed in this article is made with synthetic materials or a mix of synthetic and leather. Synthetic materials are popular in hiking shoes because of their ability to breathe.

A shoe with good breathability will allow your feet to remain cool, not overheat, and let moisture (sweat) evaporate. As a result, your feet remain dry and more comfortable for extended periods.

Gore-Tex (GTX) membrane in Merrell

For the most part, a shoe loses some breathability when an additional waterproof membrane is added to the upper’s interior. This makes sense because if the membrane is supposed to keep water and moisture out, it will also lock it in.

With that said, Gore-tex is one of the best fabrics for doing both– keeping water out of your shoe from rain and other forms of precipitation while letting heat escape and moisture evaporate from within.  

Merrel’s cushioned underfoot support

Midsoles are all about cushioning. In particular, the cushioning of a midsole is responsible for shock absorption. A shoe with poor cushioning does not absorb shock well, leading to discomfort and injury.

merrell-moab-2-gtx-heel-stack.JPG

Based on our lab measurements, Merrell hiking shoes have an average heel stack height of 34 mm. 

On the other hand, a cushioning system that is functioning correctly will lengthen the impact duration as your foot comes into contact with the ground. A longer, more cushioned impact transmits less shock load to your musculoskeletal system.

Most Merrell shoes have firm cushioning for support and stability.

Traction is carefully tested

Effective traction is a critical component of hiking shoes. To measure traction, shoe manufacturers like Merrell carry out tests to measure the coefficient of friction and slip resistance.

The coefficient of friction is a number between zero and one. The closer the value is to one, the less slippage. On the other side of the spectrum, if the coefficient of friction is close to zero, more slippage will occur.

We make sure to test the grip of Merrell shoes ourselves.

The depth of lugs is also important for tacking loose and wet terrain. Having measured the lugs of multiple Merrell hiking shoes, we found that they average 4.5-5 mm. This is an excellent length for an-around hiking shoe.

merrell-moab-3-gtx-lug-thickness.JPG

Arch support in Merrell’s hiking shoes

The stability of Merrell’s hiking shoes comes from their cushioning, medial arch support, and curved last. Typically, a stable hiking shoe combines two types of foam EVA and PU, to create stiffness. In most cases, stiffer hiking shoes are more stable.

You can check the stiffness and stability of a Merrell hiking shoe by squeezing around the shoe's heel and twisting the shoe. A hiking shoe that resists compression and twisting is considered more stable.

On a 1-5 scale, most Merrell shoes get 4 out of 5 for torsional stiffness.

It is a common trend to believe that support, specifically ankle support, comes from the high-top cuff of hiking boots. Consequently, it’s common to believe that Merrell hiking shoes do not provide adequate stability because they have low-cut cuffs around the ankle. However, this is simply not true. 

Low-cut Merrell hiking shoes still offer stability

High cuffs provide stability, but only when the cuffs are noticeably stiff. If the cuff is soft and flexible, it may not provide any extra stability.

On the contrary, Merrell hiking shoes provide stability through the cushioning and stiffness of the midsole. Many hiking shoes provide excellent stability despite not having high-top cuffs.

One way hiking shoe manufacturers do this is by incorporating a shank into the midsole.

The shoe’s shank is a material sandwiched between the insole and the midsole. Think of the shoe’s shank as a backbone responsible for adding support.

merrell-moab-3-inside.JPG

Shanks are embedded into Merrell's flagship Moab shoes as well as many other models.

Merrell hiking shoes vs. boots

As hiking shoe designs and technology improve, more avid hikers are transitioning away from hiking boots. This is true for fans of Merrell footwear, also. Instead, they are hitting the trails with Merrell hiking shoes. And for good reasons.

For one, Merrell hiking boots are heavier than their shoe-like counterparts. The extra weight of hiking boots comes from their bulky design. Surprisingly, in some cases, the extra material doesn’t make a better shoe.

Average weight
Merrell hiking shoes Merrell hiking boots
12.8 oz (363g) 19.4 oz (550g)

Some hiking boots can also be more expensive than hiking shoes. Purchasing Merrell hiking shoes is a great way to get all the traction and support you love about hiking boots for a more economical price.

Lastly, some hiking boots can be a bear to break in. This is particularly true for hiking boots that utilise full-grain leather. Yes, full-grain leather is durable and relatively water resistant, but the break-in period can be a hassle. Luckily, most of Merrell’s hiking footwear utilises synthetic leather, which is more supple and breaks in better.

On the contrary, some hiking shoes are comfortable and ready to go straight out of the box.

merrell-moab-speed-gtx-walking.JPG

Frequently asked questions

Is Gore-Tex the only type of waterproof material in Merrell hiking shoes?

No, Gore-tex is not the only waterproof fabric used in Merrel hiking shoes. Merrell uses their proprietary M-Select Dry technology in some hiking shoes. However, Gore-tex does tend to be the most popular material. For example, the Merrell Moab 2 GTX utilises a Gore-tex membrane on the interior of the shoe.

merrell-moab-speed-gtx-goretex2.JPG

Which Merrell hiking shoe is best for speed hiking?

The Merrel MQM Flex 2 GTX is the best Merrell hiking shoe for speed hiking. The MQM Flex 2 GTX is super lightweight, has excellent traction, and is incredibly comfortable on the trail. 

Which Merrell hiking shoe is best for water hiking?

The Merrell All Out Blaze Sieve is the best Merrell hiking shoe for water hiking. The shoe is lightweight and has impressive traction underfoot, even when wet or underwater. We also like the All Out Blaze Sieve for water hiking because of the protective toe cap. Your toes will feel protected even if you can’t see through the water.  

Which Merrell hiking shoe is the best for my budget?

We understand that hiking shoes can be expensive. The good news the investment is typically worth it. However, if you can’t get yourself to shell out over £110 for a pair of hiking shoes, the Merrell Alverstone will be best for your budget. 

Which Merrell hiking shoe is most comfortable? 

To put it simply, comfort is subjective. In other words, what is comfortable for one person may not be comfortable for someone else.

The comfort someone receives from a shoe will depend on how that shoe interacts with the specific characteristics of their feet.

So to find out which Merrel hiking shoe is most comfortable, you'll have to try some on and tell us. You’re in charge of this one.

Author
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto
Over the past 20 years, Paul has climbed, hiked, and run all over the world. He has summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races as well as 6 marathons. On average, he runs 30-50 miles a week in the foothills of Northern Colorado. His research is regularly cited in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, etc. On top of this, Paul is leading the running shoe lab where he cuts shoes apart and analyses every detail of the shoes that you might buy.