Our verdict

We found that there's a lot of goodness to unpack in the Moab 3 GTX. From its cloud-like plushness and tough-as-nails construction to its shield-like design and magnificent moisture protection, we are over the moon because of this low-top day hiking shoe from Merrell. Just be warned, though, that good things come at a cost, which in this case is the weightiness of every pair.

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

Audience verdict

83
Good!
  • Top 18% most popular hiking shoes

Who should buy the Merrell Moab 3 GTX

The third-generation Moab GTX is as terrific on the trail as it is eco-friendly. We support its purchase if:

  • You've yet to hike in a pair that doesn't need time and effort to break in.
  • It often rains on your go-to forest trail.
  • You're into hiking shoes that you can use in your workshop.
  • Losing your footing on muddy inclines is not an option for you.
  • You're after waterproof kicks with extra bump protection at the front.

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Who should NOT buy it

The Moab 3 GTX is not for you if you need lightness in your step. In its place, check out the Merrell Moab Speed GTX

And with no lacing issues, the Adidas Terrex Swift R3 GTX is a fine alternative to the featured kick.

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No more crying in the rain

The Merrell Moab 3 GTX takes the W on the waterproofing front, and we are down with it. 

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We discovered that supporting the non-permeable upper material is the fully gusseted tongue. Water: 0, Merrell: 1.

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Sweatier feet in the Moab 3 GTX

We came to realise that breathability is lacklustre in this low-cut Merrell offering. We found that this latest pair does feel warmer than previous models, and on its own, is not a breathable shoe. 

Merrell Moab 3 GTX (1 out of 5) vs. Merrell Moab 3 (4 out of 5)

As a matter of fact, we rated the Moab 3 GTX with the lowest possible score on breathability - 1 out of 5. This is further confirmed in our transparency test below. It shows zero light passing through the upper.

To be fair, waterproof-lined kicks often struggle with ventilation. 

A winner at close inspection

One of the Moab 3 GTX's highlights is its exemplary workmanship. We even believe that the quality of this shoe is next level, deserving 5 Stars for the design and construction.

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Just look at this promising webbing captured in our microscope shots!

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If you want other options of this calibre, visit our selection of the finest waterproof hiking shoes.

Shines in the comfort department

We are completely floored by the extraordinary suppleness of the Merrell Moab 3 GTX. It gave us instant comfort and we observed that it's such a pleasure on the foot.

The Moab 3 GTX comes with an extremely well-padded interior, especially in the heel area and in the tongue. We measured the tongue thickness at 14.6 mm which is among the thickest you can find in hiking shoes (12.5 mm in the average).

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The Moab 3 GTX's boss-level grip

Traction is amazing in this Merrell shoe, and we are ecstatic about it. Its Vibram outsole coped well with wet tree roots and mud when we tried it on our treks. We also found that the grip is excellent across pavements, rocks, and snow, giving us much confidence basically anywhere.

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The shoe's sticky outsole also sheds debris quite well. It became evident on our hikes that it does not collect too much heavy muck between the lugs.

Measuring the shoe's lug depth, it is no wonder the Moab 3 GTX is so grippy. We found that the treading is 4.8 mm deep on this shoe. It is thicker than the average (4.3 mm) and also thicker compared to the Moab 2 GTX (4.2. mm).

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Support that goes a long way

The Merrell Moab 3 GTX is immensely supportive of our feet. We felt that the featured hiking shoe has plenty of suspension and some rebound.

This level of support makes the Moab 3 GTX a versatile kick, and we even recommend this as a work shoe.

The amount of cushioning in this Merrell shoe is pretty abundant indeed. It is not thicker than average but is still cushioned enough to be regarded as a supportive shoe for hours of hiking.

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Our stack measurement shows 33.2 mm in the heel and 22.3 mm in the forefoot, which is right at the average of our lab-tested hiking shoes (33 mm and 21.1 mm respectively).

Disclaimer: We measure stack heights with the insole included. It is 4.7 mm thick in the Merrell Moab 3 GTX (typical thickness for hiking shoes, nothing extra).

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Hiking in the Moab 3 GTX didn't feel like walking on clouds, especially when we looked at the firmness of this shoe's cushioning.

Our durometer measurement shows that this Merrell shoe is 9% firmer than the average of our lab-tested hikers. Definitely not a cloud or a marshmallow.

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Disclaimer: We take four measurements with the durometer, exclude the outliers, and calculate the average. The photo above shows just one of the measurements.

Moab 3 has a secret advantage in cold weather

Considering the fact that foams get even firmer in low temperatures, we exposed the shoe to "winter conditions" in our freezer for 20 minutes. And what a surprise it was to find that this Merrell shoe, when "frozen," is actually 50% softer than other "frozen" hiking shoes! Definitely a bonus point for this Merrell option!

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Stable enough but could be better

We affirmed from our on-foot tests that the Merrell hiking shoe has a moderate level of stability. We discovered that there is a nylon shank embedded into the midsole to enhance stability in the heel and midfoot.

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The shank is found in the middle section of the sole (it has a lighter shade of grey).

Back in the heel, the ankle is also secure with a fairly stiff heel counter. On a 1-5 scale where 5 is the stiffest, we rated it as 4.

As long as you don't have severe overpronation or carry over 30 pounds on your back, the Moab 3 GTX is going to feel solid.

But if you REALLY need all the stability you can get from a hiking shoe without opting for a boot, consider the X Ultra 4 GTX from Salomon.

Looking at the bottom of both shoes, their platform widths are nearly the same (Merrell even has a little advantage in the heel):

  • Salomon: 108.2 mm (forefoot), 84.2 mm (heel)
  • Merrell: 108.9 mm (forefoot), 87 mm (heel)

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But it is a surprisingly flexible Merrell hiker!

That added side support of the Salomon X Ultra could be coming from its stiffer platform.

In our manual assessment of flexibility, it was rated 4 out of 5 (5 is the stiffest possible), while the Merrell Moab 3 GTX got 3 out of 5 (more flexible).

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX is stiffer than the Merrell Moab 3 GTX

You can also notice that the Merrell shoe has more flex in the forefoot. We further confirmed it with a lab test by bending the shoe to a 90-degree angle and measuring its resistance.

Disclaimer: We repeat the test four times and note down the average result, excluding the outliers. The video above shows just one measurement.

We found that the Moab 3 GTX is 23% more flexible than the Salomon X Ultra 4 TX and also 30% more flexible than average.

The hardwearing Moab 3 GTX

We are impressed with the tough-as-nails construction of this footgear from Merrell. 

In an attempt to put the shoe's durability into numbers, we measured the thickness and hardness of its outsole.

Combining 2.3 mm on rubber and the 4.8 mm lugs, we get a 7.1-mm layer of underfoot protection in the Moab 3 GTX. This is a little more than the average 6.8 mm in our lab-tested hiking shoes.

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The firmness of that rubber is another bonus point of the Moab 3 GTX. Our durometer measurement shows that the shoe's outsole is harder than 83% of our lab-tested hiking shoes. 

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Disclaimer: We take four measurements with a durometer and note down the average. The photo above shows just one of these measurements.

Mighty against bumpy hazards

The Merrell Moab 3 GTX's high durability and toughness also translate to exceptional defence against all things bumpy. We particularly like the amount of protection in this pair.

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Weighs like a boot

Heaviness is one of the Moab 3 GTX's few misses: It's relatively heavy and quite chunky. We found that the robustness of the boot is what brings additional weight.

Tipping the scales at 450g per shoe, the Moab 3 GTX is indeed a big boy. It weighs 50g heavier than its non-waterproof counterpart and 66g heavier than the average of our tested hiking shoes. In fact, it weighs almost as much as some hiking boots! Timberlands, for example.

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Laces that won't stay put

The round shoestrings of the Merrell Moab 3 GTX are also a struggle to keep tied. We encountered easily coming loose laces in this shoe but one solution we applied is double knotting the shoelaces. Although replacing them with clingier ones is also a swell idea.

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