Our verdict

Taking centre stage in the Accentor 3 from Merrell is how it energises our foot so that longer hikes feel way more rewarding. The biggest highlights in this regard are the shoe's oozingly comfy fit that coddled our feet and its multi-surface tenacity; making every step as pleasurable and surefooted as the next as we knock down the mile markers. Despite featuring a fair amount of mesh in its upper, its lacklustre performance in our breathability test means that it's certainly more of a wintertime companion.

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

Audience verdict

79
Good!

Who should buy

We recommend the Merrel Accentor 3 as a great choice for: 

  • Hikers looking for a comfortable shoe well-suited to longer treks to up their hiking mileage with
  • Those in colder climates in need of a warm shoe that performs consistently no matter how low temperatures drop
  • Hikers who prioritise strong grip and need a shoe that will provide reliable traction over a variety of surfaces

Merrell Accentor 3 main image

Who should NOT buy

Our smoke test reveals the Accentor 3 to suffer from a distinct lack of airflow. While this well-insulated nature makes it good for hikes in cooler weather, the shoe will feel like a foot sauna in the summertime. The KEEN NXIS Speed, on the other hand, has a much more breathable upper that is better suited to warm summer treks. 

The Accentor 3's accommodating toebox might be a little too roomy for those with narrow feet. This will be especially apparent during steep descent where the toes will butt up against the toebox uncomfortably. For hikers in need of a more snug fit, we recommend checking out the Merrel Moab 3 an equally grippy and reliable alternative instead. 

Merrell Accentor 3 cut

With the copious amount of rubber in its stack, the Accentor 3 is a relatively heavy hiking shoe. For those who prioritise a lightweight ride over versatile grip and want a shoe that can tackle some trail running, we recommend checking out the positively feathery Salomon Outpulse.

Breathability

We pumped the Accentor 3 full of smoke in order to get a visual idea of how well-ventilated it is. Despite featuring a healthy amount of what looks like porous mesh in its upper constructions, the shoe barely lets a wisp of smoke filter through. This rather surprising result leads us to give the shoe a disappointing 1 out of 5 for breathability.  As such, the Accentor 3 traps in heat which makes it much better suited to cold weather hikes. 

When inspecting a cross-section of the upper over a backlight, it's clear to see that the mesh isn't nearly as airy as it seems at first glance. The whole upper entirely eclipses our backlight and doesn't let even a ray of light shine through. This goes some ways to explain the shoe's performance in our smoke test. 

For further answers, we turn to our trusty microscope which reveals the culprit of this lacklustre breathability. Beneath the seemingly well-perforated mesh upper is a more impermeable lining that really prevents heat from escaping the shoe. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Breathability microscope

Merrell Accentor 3 Breathability mesh closeup
Test results
Accentor 3 1
Average 2.8
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

It would be safe to assume that the inclusion of a semi-rigid nylon shank in the midsole would make the Accentor 3 a stiff shoe. However, its clever placement just below the arch means that it's actually quite a pliable shoe; requiring only 18.7N of force to torque it 90 degrees in our flex test. 

As such the shoe does little to resist the natural flexion of our foot, a factor that greatly plays into the shoe's relaxed ride. We can, therefore, have our cake and eat it too as the Accentor 3 provides both strong support and luxurious comfort. 

Toebox durability

To simulate extreme wear and tear, we fired up our Dremel and subjected the Accentor 3 to its spinning abrasive element. We start with the toebox. 

While the test initially seems to go awry for the shoe as our tool kicks up a flurry of suede immediately upon impact. However, after twelve seconds of relentless grinding, we found that we had barely done any damage to the toebox, with only a faintly discoloured scuff left behind at the point of contact. This benchmark performance is about as close to perfect as we can expect, earning the Accentor 3 a toebox durability score of 5 out of 5. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Toebox durability damage compare

The Hoka Anacapa Mid GTX, on the other hand, had its toebox absolutely obliterated by our tool in this same assessment.  

Test results
Accentor 3 5
Average 3.7
Compared to 15 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

Next up to the chopping block is the heel collar which was only subjected to a quick four-second encounter with our Dremel. 

As quick as it was, our tool was able to inflict significant damage to the heel collar and managed to mince away the lining material as well as a fair chunk of the padding within. This leads us to give the Accentor 3 a more modest 2 out of 5 in this assessment. It's certainly a weak point of the shoe but should survive the wear and tear of normal use throughout its lifetime. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Heel padding durability damage
Test results
Accentor 3 2
Average 3
Compared to 14 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Pressing our durometer against the Accentor 3's outsole rubber yields a much harder-than-average reading of 94.1 HC. This, in theory, bodes well for its durability as we've found that harder usually means stronger. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Outsole hardness durometer
Test results
Accentor 3 94.1 HC
Average 84.6 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
65.0 HC
Outsole hardness
94.1 HC

Outsole durability

Increasing the speed to 10K RPM, we optimistically set our Dremel against the outsole for its final face-off against the Accentor 3. 

Once the test was over, we were surprised to find that the shoe had lost 1.1 mm of material according to our tyre tread gauge which we used to measure the indentation left behind by our tool. This isn't terrible and is about the same as the average hiking boot loses in this same assessment. We just expected better from a shoe with such a hard outsole. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Outsole durability damage
Test results
Accentor 3 1.1 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 14 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

Using our caliper, we measured the outsole to be 3.8 mm thick. When considering the lugs as well, there's over 8 mm of thick rubber making up the Accentor 3's stack. While this allays some of our durability concerns brought about by the last test, we also think that losing some rubber from the outsole would have shaved some weight off this shoe. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Outsole thickness caliper
Test results
Accentor 3 3.8 mm
Average 2.6 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1.6 mm
Outsole thickness
4.0 mm

Weight

We measured the Accentor 3's stack to be 30.8 m thick at the heel according to our calliper. This is on par with our current lab average and means that we have more than enough foam and rubber to dampen our landings and protect our feet from harsh objects underfoot. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Heel stack caliper

Further contributing to the comfort of our landings is the Merrel Air Cushion embedded in this part of the midsole that absorbs the initial impact and helps disperse it evenly as we transition to the forefoot. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Weight scale
Test results
Accentor 3 13.86 oz (393g)
Average 13.19 oz (374g)
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
6.49 oz (184g)
Weight
17.14 oz (486g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

We measured the Accentor 3's stack to be 30.8 m thick at the heel according to our calliper. This is on par with our current lab average and means that we have more than enough foam and rubber to dampen our landings and protect our feet from harsh objects underfoot. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Heel stack caliper

Further contributing to the comfort of our landings is the Merrel Air Cushion embedded in this part of the midsole that absorbs the initial impact and helps disperse it evenly as we transition to the forefoot. 

Test results
Accentor 3 30.8 mm
Average 31.4 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
9.9 mm
Heel stack
39.0 mm

Forefoot stack

Up at the forefoot, the Accentor 3's stack is shorter than average at 16.7 mm thick. As impact protection is less crucial in this part of the foot, this is a good enough buffer zone between us and the ground that still feels quite natural as we walk around. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Forefoot stack caliper
Test results
Accentor 3 16.7 mm
Average 20.9 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
10.7 mm
Forefoot stack
31.0 mm

Drop

The difference in our stack measurements leaves the Accentor 3 with a drop height of 14.1 mm. This is a rather steep offset which indicates that our heel is much more elevated off the ground than our forefoot. As such, the Accentor 3 presents us with a good mix of cushioning and impact protection during landings with an intuitive sense of the ground below for steady and decisive toe-offs. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Drop
Test results
Accentor 3 14.1 mm
Average 10.5 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
-0.8 mm
Drop
15.9 mm

Midsole softness

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

Pressing our durometer against the main slab of midsole foam yields a notably firm reading of 34 HA.

Merrell Accentor 3 Midsole softness durometer

As such, the foam doesn't compress very much under our weight as we walk in the shoe. While this doesn't make for a soft and pillowy ride, it does mean that the shoe feels incredibly sturdy and supportive underfoot. This means that we were able to lug heavy packs around with ease while testing this shoe up and down the trails without so much as a wobble. As such, the Accentor 3 is a great choice for backpacking journeys or thru-hikes. 

Test results
Accentor 3 34.0 HA
Average 27.5 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
13.5 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

We placed the Accentor 3 in our freezer for twenty minutes to see what effect cold conditions have on the midsole. Once appropriately cooled, we took another durometer reading of the midsole foam and found that it only became 7% firmer. This almost negligible change means that the shoe's already firm cushioning won't be adversely affected by frosty weather. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
Accentor 3 7%
Average 17.3%
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Secondary foam softness

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

The little Air Cushion embedded at the heel is much more plush than the primary foam, registering a durometer reading of 18 HA. This does give our landings a bit of a soft touch despite being suspended within a firmer compound.

Merrell Accentor 3 Secondary foam softness durometer
Test results
Accentor 3 18.0 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.

Insole thickness

At 4.7 mm thick according to our caliper measurements, the Accentor 3's insole is just shy of our current lab average. That said, it still provides our foot with a nice and soft landing surface within the shoe. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Insole thickness
Test results
Accentor 3 4.7 mm
Average 5.4 mm
Compared to 20 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
2.6 mm
Insole thickness
8.6 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

Thanks in great part to the shoe's firm midsole and more grounded forefoot that we touched upon earlier, the Accentor 3 feels incredibly well-planted as we shift our weight from side to side. 

There's also a moulded nylon shank embedded in the midsole just beneath the arch of our foot. This feels incredibly supportive, especially during longer hikes, and makes the Accentor 3 a good choice for several foot conditions like flat feet or plantar fasciitis. 

Torsional rigidity

The Accentor 3 put up a mild level of resistance as we bent and twisted the shoe in our hands, leading us to give it a middle-of-the-road score of 3 out of 5. This means that the shoe is able to twist and contort along with our foot to a certain degree as we navigate difficult terrains while still providing a relatively sturdy landing platform. 

Test results
Accentor 3 3
Average 3.4
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter is well-structured and generously padded, making it much more impervious to our manual manipulations. This leads us to give it a stiffness score of 4 out of 5. As such, the shoe mitigates any excessive lateral movements of our heel by holding it in place without putting too much pressure on our tendons. This amount of support in the rearfoot helps prevent us from rolling our ankles as we navigate uneven terrains. 

Test results
Accentor 3 4
Average 3.6
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

We measured the Accentor 3's midsole to be 108 mm wide at the forefoot which is just shy of our current lab average. This is still more than enough of a platform to push off of securely and surefootedly throughout our test hikes. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Midsole width in the forefoot caliper
Test results
Accentor 3 108.0 mm
Average 110.3 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
103.0 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
117.6 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Back at the heel, the midsole turns out to be significantly narrower than average at only 79.2 mm wide according to our calliper measurements. While this also didn't present us with any trouble as we tested the Accentor 3, we recommend that hikers accustomed to having a broader landing surface check out the Adidas Terrex AX4 as an alternative. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Midsole width in the heel caliper
Test results
Accentor 3 79.2 mm
Average 86.7 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
64.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
101.6 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

It would be safe to assume that the inclusion of a semi-rigid nylon shank in the midsole would make the Accentor 3 a stiff shoe. However, its clever placement just below the arch means that it's actually quite a pliable shoe; requiring only 18.7N of force to torque it 90 degrees in our flex test. 

As such the shoe does little to resist the natural flexion of our foot, a factor that greatly plays into the shoe's relaxed ride. We can, therefore, have our cake and eat it too as the Accentor 3 provides both strong support and luxurious comfort. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Stiffness outdoor bend
Test results
Accentor 3 18.7N
Average 29.4N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
1.8N
Stiffness
54.0N

Difference in stiffness in cold

We also repeated the flex test after leaving the shoe in our freezer for twenty minutes and found that it only became 15.4% more rigid. Not only is this more consistent than average under similar conditions, but it also means that the chilled Accentor 3 is still more flexible than the average hiking shoe at room temperature! Combined with the midsole's similarly strong performance in the freezer test and the shoe's well-insulated upper, the Accentor 3 is a great winter adventure companion. 

Test results
Accentor 3 15.4%
Average 29.6%
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
100%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

At 4.3 mm thick according to our calliper measurements, the Accentor 3's lugs are on par with our current lab average.

Merrell Accentor 3 Lug depth

These are aggressive enough to bite into loose pack and gravelly surfaces and provide us with great traction. Even on hard-packed and smooth or slick surfaces, the grippy rubber and multidirectional tread kept us feeling adhered to the trail and traipsing along sure-footedly. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Lug depth grip
Test results
Accentor 3 4.3 mm
Average 3.9 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
2.1 mm
Lug depth
5.0 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

The Accentor 3's toebox is quite broad, measuring 104.7 mm wide at its widest point according to our calliper. This is significantly wider than average and means that those with normal to wide feet should find an accommodating fit in this shoe. 

On the other hand, however, those with narrow feet might feel more at home with a more snug alternative like the Merrel Moab 3 instead. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Toebox width at the widest part caliper
Test results
Accentor 3 104.7 mm
Average 100.6 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
94.6 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
107.7 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

In the area around the big toe, the toebox tapers down to 82.9 mm wide, which is ever so slightly broader than our current lab average. This gives us a good amount of room to splay out within the shoe without our toes feeling too constricted by the toebox. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Toebox width at the big toe caliper
Test results
Accentor 3 82.9 mm
Average 81.7 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
68.8 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
108.6 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Not unusually for a hiking shoe, the Accentor 3's tongue is fully gusseted on both sides. This helps to keep the tongue in place and keep it from sliding around as we walk around, not to mention protecting our feet from any bits of debris that might find their way into the shoe. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Accentor 3 Both sides (full)

Comfort

We placed the Accentor 3 in our freezer for twenty minutes to see what effect cold conditions have on the midsole. Once appropriately cooled, we took another durometer reading of the midsole foam and found that it only became 7% firmer. This almost negligible change means that the shoe's already firm cushioning won't be adversely affected by frosty weather. 

Tongue padding

At 11 mm thick according to our caliper measurements, the Accentor 3's tongue is slightly thicker than our current lab average. This gives us plenty of padding across the instep to protect us from lace bite as well as provide a comfy and secure midfoot lockdown. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Tongue padding caliper
Test results
Accentor 3 11.0 mm
Average 9.5 mm
Compared to 21 hiking shoes
Number of shoes
5.0 mm
Tongue padding
17.0 mm

Heel tab

There's a little finger loop at the heel of the Accentor 3 that makes sliding the shoe on a little faster and easier. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Heel tab
Test results
Accentor 3 Finger loop

Removable insole

The insole isn't glued in, so switching it for a custom orthotic or an aftermarket alternative is possible whenever necessary. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Removable insole
Test results
Accentor 3 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

With no reflective elements whatsoever to be found on the shoe, we recommend using additional high-vis gear if ever hiking alongside a dimly-lit road at night. 

Merrell Accentor 3 Reflective elements
Test results
Accentor 3 No