Our verdict

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Great!
The Merrell Moab 2 GTX is a well-built hiking shoe. With heaps of comfort and a solid waterproofing system, the Moab 2 GTX might be your best choice for your go-to day hiking shoe.

Pros

  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Waterproofing that actually works!
  • Durable upper
  • Perfect for short one-day hikes
  • Soft, plush feel
  • Protects from sharp rocks underfoot
  • Flexible

Cons

  • Poor heel lockdown
  • Average grip

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Who should buy the Merrell Moab 2 GTX

The Merrell Moab 2 GTX is able 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 perfect for the short-distance hiker who respects their feet.

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Who should NOT buy the shoe

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 hiking shoe that offers a superb lockdown, look at the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX.

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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.

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 this shoe.

Merrell Moab 2 GTX (left), Altra Torin 6 (right)

Using a smoke-pumping machine, we assessed the amount of smoke passing through the upper of the Moab 2 GTX. On a 1-5 scale, where 1 is the most breathable, we rated it as 2.

The Merrell Moab 2 GTX is thick and feels it, with a 17 mm thick tongue.

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As the video below makes it clear, there are no ventilation pores in the Moab 2 GTX.

Very little air gets in or out of there, which means when you get wet feet, they stay wet.

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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. The non-waterproof Merrell Moab 3, for example.

The Merrell Moab 2 GTX is quite light

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 14.9 oz (422g) in a men's US size 9, 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.

The Moab 2 GTX is very light, 233 g lighter compared to the likes of old school Salomon Quest 4 GTX which still comes in at 23 oz (655g)! My issue is that at £150 MSRP I feel you should be getting less weight than that. By contrast, the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX is £160 and comes in 30% lighter, still with many of the same features as the Moab.

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.

Measuring the foam softness with a durometer, we found that it is right in the middle - neither too soft nor too firm. It is about the same as the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX. If you want a softer experience in a Merrell shoe, consider the Merrell Moab Speed GTX (35% softer!)

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Stepping on the heel, it feels as if the shoe has an Air Cushion, which sounds a lot like a Nike brand feature. But in reality, after cutting the shoe in half, it turned out to be 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 has a solid amount of cushioning to keep you protected. We measured the heel stack at 33.9 mm (average: 32.3 mm) and the forefoot at 20.6 mm (20.7 mm).

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This creates a heel-to-toe difference of 13.3 mm in the Moab 2 GTX which is a little higher than the average 11.6 mm. Thus, you might feel like the heel sits a little higher in this Merrell shoe.

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Disclaimer: All stack measurements are taken with the insole included. The insole is 4.7 mm thick in the Moab 2 GTX (0.6 mm thinner than the average).

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For those planning to rock the shoe in chilly weather, keep in mind that it will harden up a bit in lower temperatures and will require some breaking in before restoring its original balance of soft and firm.

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To recreate cold weather, we kept the Moab 2 GTX in the freezer for 20 minutes and took the durometer measurement once again. The shoe got 18% harder and 49%(!) stiffer (less flexible). 

A good amount of flex

Cold weather aside, the shoe's moderately soft midsole and heavily crosshatched outsole allow the Moab 2 to flex really nicely, following the shape of each step.

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.

Based on our resistance test, the Merrell Moab 2 GTX is far from being the most flexible hiking shoe. But it is still in the middle range of stiffness.

Bending and twisting the shoe in our manual assessment, we also rated it as 4 out of 5 on both longitudinal and torsional flexibility. For reference, 5 is the stiffest.

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

This is a bit of a disappointment for me.

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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 provides 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.

On a lighter note, people with various foot shapes are going to feel comfortable inside the shoe's toebox. It feels spacious enough.

Measuring the widest part of the toebox, we found it to be 98.3 mm whereas the average is 98.9 mm. It narrows down slightly toward the toes but doesn't end up squeezing them.

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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 organised Vibram outsole has taken a more surrealist approach to traction than competitors.

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With its lugs arranged in circles and waves, the Moab is more suited to damp, mildly soft ground. When faced with a drier rock and mud the Moabs lost grip repeatedly.

Based on our measurements, the lugs are 4.2 mm deep on this Merrell shoe, a little deeper than the average 4.0 mm.

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On a positive note, rubber durability looks promising on the Moab 2 GTX. We measured its hardness to be right in the middle range of hiking footwear.

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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.

A fully gusseted tongue also keeps small rocks and debris away from the shoe's interiors.

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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.

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