Our verdict

If free-spirited hikes are what you are after, then the Moab Speed GTX has to be on your wish list. Indeed, with its ridiculously bouncy underfoot platform and barely-there weight, this shoe had us leaping when others found it hard to pull off a measly half-metre stride. It took us several tries to make its heel obey (through proper lacing techniques), but past that, we found this hiker a dream!

Pros

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

Cons

  • Unflattering heel fit
  • Frail outsole

Audience verdict

79
Good!

Who should buy the Merrell Moab Speed GTX

The Moab Speed GTX is a great option for hikes where quick reflexes are required. If you are drawn to this speedy gem, then you must be:

  • Someone who likes to run (sometimes). It has a springy midsole and it's lightweight, after all.
  • The kind of trail-goer who bumps your toes on twisty roots and low-level boulders more often than not.
  • In need of hikers that provide extra heel stability.
  • A strong supporter of eco-friendly hiking shoes.

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Who should not buy it

If you are prone to the dreaded heel lift, we suggest skipping the featured shoe and turning to the Merrell Moab 3 or Salomon X Ultra 4 instead. We also recommend opting for the tanky KEEN Targhee III Waterproof if you doubt the Moab Speed GTX's sole durability.

A superb jack-of-all-trades with Gore-Tex

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Having Gore-Tex in a hiking shoe is great, but it often—if not always—compromises breathability. For instance, other GTX shoes like the Hoka Anacapa Low GTX or the Merrell Moab 3 GTX got 1/5 in our airflow test—the lowest score.

However, when we used the smoke-pumping machine on this shoe, we were really surprised by the airflow. While it doesn't offer out-of-this-world ventilation, a score of 3/5 is better than expected for a waterproof shoe.

The shoe's approach to breathability is very clever. The upper rocks a highly breathable mesh in the tongue and utilises it as a chimney. We realised that this is the only way to counter the lack of airflow in the toe box of any Gore-Tex shoe.

But the star of the show is the weight. We are floored by the shoe’s undeniable lightness.

The Moab Speed GTX is 34% lighter than the Moab 3 and 17% lighter than the Adidas Terrex AX4. That's huge!

The Moab Speed GTX's impermeable confines

We also find this shoe quite the impermeable hiker. The waterproofing keeps feet dry through puddles, damp grass, or the occasional stream crossing.

After testing the waters—no pun intended—we examined our socks, and they were as dry as the desert.

The Gore-Tex membrane did a sterling job of keeping our feet dry despite plenty of sloshing about in streams.

During our water test, the Gore-Tex membrane in the Moab Speed GTX performed exceptionally well.

Rock-solid stability and an unbelievable drop

The Moab Speed GTX bolsters stability by having a mildly fanned-out heel zone. Coupled with the cushiness of its midsole, this Merrell piece can keep your footing as level as possible on moderately rocky surfaces.

Merrell Moab Speed GTX platform front

The landing platform is impressively wide for being such a lightweight shoe. It measures 109.6 mm in the forefoot and 87.9 mm in the heel, both of which are around the average width of all hiking shoes.

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We discovered that a durable rock plate is incorporated within the midsole, which serves as a rigid and safeguarding shield while delivering added support.

The remaining section of the midsole showcases Merrell's FloatPro Foam, ensuring lightweight cushioning for a delightful running experience. Merrell says that the shoe has a 31/21-mm stack height for a 10-mm heel-to-toe drop.

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We found a remarkable deviation from the official specifications. Our calliper revealed a forefoot measurement of 37.7 mm and a heel measurement of 22.1 mm, resulting in an ultra-steep heel-to-toe drop of... 15.6 mm!!!

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Merrell Moab Speed GTX: A case of heel lift

We are none too pleased with the Moab Speed GTX's rear foot. We felt like it struggled to keep our heels in place.

The heel tends to be the weakest aspect of every hiking shoe produced by Merrell. In an attempt to address this problem, they employed a stiff approach with the Speed GTX. Our batch of tests delivered these results:

  • Heel stiffness: 4/5, being 5 the stiffest.
  • Longitudinal flexibility: 5/5, being 5 the stiffest.
  • Torsional flexibility: 4/5, being 5 the stiffest.
  • Bend test: 54.0 N, being 39.0 N the average result.

While there appear to be some enhancements compared to other models, there remains substantial room for improvement in this aspect for Merrell.

Disclaimer: We take an average of 4 measurements and exclude any outliers. This video shows just one of our measurements.

Talon-like grip

The Moab Speed GTX provided us with great traction in a variety of conditions, including muddy slopes and rocky ascents.

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The outsole, crafted by Vibram, consists of a 1.9 mm rubber base layer, complemented by 4.0 mm thick lugs that deliver ample traction and versatility.

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Regarding hardness, the outsole consists of a rubber that is softer than the average, measuring 84.0 HA according to our durometer. This provides a cool balance between grip and durability.

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Disclaimer: We calculate an average of 4 measurements and disregard any outliers. This image portrays just one of those.

Say no to tired feet

Excellent rebound is what you can expect from this remarkable hiker from Merrell. After wearing the shoe for a few weeks, we felt that it had been consistently comfortable. Even right out of the box, they’re super comfortable.

If you're on the market for a hiking shoe that can handle easy runs and feels soft underfoot, this is THE one.

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Disclaimer: We do 4 measurements and exclude any outliers. The photo above shows just one measurement.

We measured the softness of the midsole at 22.5 HC. For instance, that's 53% softer than the Merrell Moab 2 GTX!

In fact, we can describe this Moab Speed GTX as an almost-hybrid model, combining features of both a running and a hiking shoe. 

One area where this shoe falls short of our expectations is the behaviour in cold temperatures. 

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After being exposed to our freezer for 20 minutes, it becomes 49.0% stiffer and 17.7% firmer. While the level of softness is acceptable, the additional stiffness is excessive for a shoe that is already stiff.

Fresh-from-the-box comfort

Mighty comfy from the off is the Merrell Moab Speed GTX, and we can 100% testify. The upper of the shoe is made from a durable combination of synthetic mesh and TPU, ensuring breathability and durability.

It features a comfortably padded collar and tongue, enhancing the overall fit and feel.

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When measuring the semi-gusseted tongue, we found it to be 11.4 mm thick, which is quite impressive for a lightweight hiking shoe. To put it into perspective, it is 44% thicker than the tongue of the Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX.

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Another crucial factor in terms of comfort is the FloatPro insole. Although it measures 5.7 mm in thickness which is pretty average, it incorporates EVA foam that ensures a plush and comfortable experience.

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Lastly, we need to mention the delightful addition of a super-handy pull tab, making the task of slipping your feet into the shoe a breeze. Nice touch, Merrell!

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Flexible fit for the Speed GTX

We were demoralised by the shape of the toe box in the Moab 2. However, the Speed GTX resolves that issue.

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To provide further clarity, let's delve into the numbers.

Shoe Toe box: max width (mm) Toe box: big toe (mm) Tapers by
Merrell Moab 2 98.3 68.8 42.9
Merrell Moab Speed GTX 97.7 75.6 29.2

On average, hiking shoes typically narrow by 25-35%, making it evident that the Moab 2 was considerably undersized in the toe region for hikers with wider feet. The Moab Speed GTX doesn't have that issue.

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Firm and fierce

Despite its minimal weight, we found this footgear impressively supportive overall.

The Moab Speed GTX is also quite protective as it comes with a highly shock-absorbent toe guard, which is an extension of the shoe’s Vibram outsole. 

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Questionable outsole construction

However, we realised that the Moab Speed GTX's outsole detaches from the midsole way too soon.

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For a greener Earth

This Merrell kick is engineered with 100% recycled laces and mesh liners. The shoe’s footbed also comes with a 50% recycled top sheet, while its grippy outsole from Vibram is made with 30% recycled rubber.

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The Moab Speed GTX's proud siblings

Don the Moab 3 instead if your adventures happen mostly in dry months. For extra ankle support on top of everything the featured hiker can do, we recommend the Moab Speed Mid GTX.

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