Merrell Moab 2 GTX review and lab test

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The Merrell Moab 2 GTX is a hiking shoe made to be comfy in milder conditions. With added bonuses like a durable outsole and a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, it’s hard not to fall in love with this hiking shoe.

Who the hiking shoe is for

The Merrell Moab 2 GTX is built to add more comfort to day hikes. With a low profile silhouette, a soft, plush midsole, and world-renowned waterproofing, the Moab 2 GTX is for the short-distance hiker who respects their feet.

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Who the Merrell Moab 2 GTX is not for

There’s probably a better option out there for you if: 

  • You need more ankle support, the Merrell Moab 2 Mid GTX is the same construction, just with a higher ankle collar to keep you locked in.
  • You’re after a breathable hiking shoe, the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator does away with the waterproofing and opts for supreme airflow.
  • You’re taking heavy loads or going on long, multi-day hikes, the Merrell Forestbound Waterproof is a tough, supportive, and protective hiking shoe

The Merrell Moab 2 GTX is quite light

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If you’d have told me 10 years ago that I could go for a day hike in a fully waterproof, well-supported hiking boot or shoe at 16.4oz (466g) I wouldn’t believe you. Hey, maybe even 5 years ago, because hiking shoe technology has come a long way, thanks to learning a lot from trail running. 

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The Moab 2 GTX is quite light, 16.4oz, a little over a pound is really good compared to the likes of old school Salomon Quest 4 GTX which still come in at 23.1oz (655g)! My issue is that at $145 RRP I feel you should be getting less weight than that. By contrast, the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX is $150 and comes in 30% lighter, still with many of the same features as the Moab.

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When weighing in the lab, I like to take out components to stack them up against others, and the insole for the Moab is 26g, which is a fair deal heavier than the average of 15g. I know it’s just a few grams, but I think it shows that Merrell wasn’t too concerned with weight here. 

A midsole that provides supreme comfort

If there’s one thing that Merrell stands head and shoulders above competitors on it’s the comfort of their midsoles. From walking shoes the slippers, they’ve been rocking this category forever. 

With a durometer (hardness) of 41.5HA, the midsole on the Moab is plenty soft, giving a nice cushioned feel for every step. There’s apparently an Air Cushion, which sounds a lot like a Nike brand feature, but from testing, I’m pretty sure it’s just a gap in the heel. 

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Either way, the shoe is really comfy for shorter hikes, and also pretty protective from sharper rocks underfoot. 

The Merrell Moab 2 GTX could be supportive if it fit better

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This is a bit of a disappointment for me. The outer of the Moab 2 GTX is crisscrossed with synthetic leather and a rigid, horizontal(ish) silicone beam running from the forefoot to the heel. Looking at the bulky shape (probably what adds a lot of weight), it’s clear this is meant to provide a solid heel lock where the lacing adds tension all the way to the heel. 

In practice, this wasn’t the case. It wasn’t that the Merrell Moab 2 doesn’t fit. Until I was actually hiking in them I thought the fit was fine, but the execution wasn’t there. It appears as if there’s a flaw in the lacing/upper design. The upper construction is too stiff and the lacing provides very little chance to get good leverage that it’s pointless trying to tighten them to activate this heel lock. 

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This doesn’t bode well for carrying heavy loads with this shoe, without much support you’re at risk of rolling your ankle. I would suggest going a half size lower and maybe trying the wider width if you’re worried about getting a squashed forefoot. 

A good amount of flex

Thanks to the soft midsole and a heavily crosshatched outsole, the Moab 2 flexes really nicely, following the shape of each step. 

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This can be really useful on shorter hikes where you can rely on your footwork being consistent. It adds to the comfort of the overall experience and is definitely refreshing if you’re used to hiking boots. 

The Merrell Moab 2 GTX really is waterproof

The verdict we’ve all been waiting for…does the waterproofing hold up? It certainly does. As you can see, I really tried this out and ended up with perfectly dry feet. 

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Gore-Tex is a pretty reliable addition to shoes and definitely works when needed. I would say it’s worth deciding if it’s for you. Being a lower silhouette shoe, the only waterproof bit is the shoe, if you step into a deeper puddle or walk through long, wet grass, your feet are getting wet. 

There’s not much air going through the Moab 2 GTX

So, if you do get wet feet, how do you get them dry? Gore-Tex themselves will decry that their membranes only stop water and let air pass through the material, with very scientific-looking diagrams to back them up. The reality is that I haven’t found this to be the case in a shoe. 

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The Merrell Moab 2 GTX is thick and feels it, with a 17.04mm thick tongue. Very little air gets in or out of there, which means when you get wet feet, they stay wet. For me it’s a personal choice, if you know you’re walking somewhere with a couple of puddles and occasional rain, maybe the Gore-Tex works for you. If you know your feet are going to face some liquid challenges, maybe opt for the more breathable pair without Gore-Tex.

Inconsistent grip

It started to become clear that while comfy, the Merrell Moab 2 GTX might not be the best ‘specialist’ shoe. That is to say, they’re definitely more for off-road strolls than serious hikes. I usually like my hiking shoes to be able to tackle any conditions. 

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The rather randomly organized Vibram outsole has taken a more surrealist approach to traction than competitors. With 7.4mm lugs arranged in circles and waves, the Moab is more suited to damp, mildly soft ground. When faced with drier rock and mud the Moabs lost grip repeatedly. 

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The outsole has quite a high durometer of 93.5 HC which makes it feel durable and protective underfoot. 

A protective upper

With a synthetic leather and mesh upper, the Moab 2 looks like the walking shoes of yore. It’s a tried and tested design that’s sure not to turn any heads. Most don’t need that on a hike so that’s fine. They feel durable, and after a 15km hike, I only have a few marks on the upper. 

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There’s a reinforced rubber toecap that will help protect the most sensitive part of your feet from the most often whacked part of the shoe. 

Conclusion

It may feel that I’m not a fan of the Merrell Moab 2 GTX, which is kind of true. I’m not sure that these should be marketed as an all-terrain hiking shoe, given the issues in heel lock and lack of proper grip. 

In truth though, I think these are really solid, incredibly comfortable shoes for shorter hikes. With good waterproofing, a durable upper, and plush padded midsoles, I know what I’d pick up if I was out on a stroll.

Complete lab-specs overview 

  Merrell Moab 2 GTX
Whole shoe
Weight (g) 466
Flexibility of the shoe (N)

38.5

Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N) 54.2
Flexibility of the shoe (% of change) 40.7
Lace slip test with the knot (N) 18.55
Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 3.0
Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 3.0
Upper
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 17.04
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 97.2
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 87.8
Lace Stretch (1-5 scale, 5 being the most stretchy)

2

Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 4.0
Thickness of Heel Counter (mm) 16.8
Toe Guard Yes
Durometer Toe Guard (Room temperature) (HA) 97.2
Tongue: gusset type Full Bellows
Heel: pull tab None
Midsole
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 115.2
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 95
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 41.5
Outsole
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 9.76
Lugs Depth (mm) 7.4
Lugs (Amount) NA
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 94
Insole
Insole Heel Thickness (mm) 5.4
Insole: removable Yes

Facts / Specs

Weight: Men 422g / Women 372g
Use: Day Hiking
Cut: Low cut
Collection: Merrell Moab, Merrell Moab 2
Features: Lightweight / Eco-friendly / Orthotic friendly / Removable insole
Waterproofing: Waterproof
Width: Normal, Wide / Normal

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Author
Doug Turner
Doug Turner

Doug is a Scottish documentary and fashion photographer and filmmaker. Stumbling into the sneaker game later than usual, he started out behind a camera through long hiking expeditions around the world. Seeking a cleaner aesthetic, Doug now works mostly in fashion and sport, opting for outdoor locations rather than a studio.