Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Cool, light, breathable, great value, good traction on rock and dry trails
Cons: Uppers wear quickly, thin sole, not waterproof.
Best Uses: Hot weather hiking, canyoneering, hot weather canoeing
One of the lightest hiking boots we tested, the Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid is superbly breathable and thus occupies its own niche. On hot and dry trails, it will keep your feet comfy, dry, and cool. When wading through water while canyoneering or portaging a canoe, it will drain and dry much more quickly than its competitors. Its traction on dry rock and gravel is excellent, and the wide forefoot provides a stable platform. One of the thruhikers we polled reported getting 800 miles out of a pair of Merrell Moab Ventilators and said it was the "best out-of-box shoe I've ever worn."
Unfortunately, however, there are some definite drawbacks to this hiking boot. The Moab Ventilator Mid is one of the least durable boots we tested, and its thin sole and midsole provide little protection from pointy rocks underfoot. The mesh uppers can snag sticks and other trail debris, and the collar provides little ankle support. If you hike in muddy terrain, you will be cleaning mud from the inside of this boot.
The Keen Targhee II Mid, our Best Buy winner, is more durable and stable for those seeking a very light, affordable boot. It provides better traction in wet conditions, and it is water resistant. Consider the Editors' Choice winning Vasque St. Elias GTX if weight is less of a concern.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Comfortable and uberlight, the Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid excels in the hot weather, but doesn't provide much foot support or ankle stability. This super light hiking boot is a great choice though if you'll be out in the heat and don't need any sort of waterproofing for your feet.
Available in both regular and wide sizes, this lightweight hiker was comfortable from the first step. The upper cradles the foot in softness; however, the minimalist design is only comfortable over many miles for hikers with strong, trail-hardened feet. It features four lower, one middle, and one upper lacing eyelets for a nice, snug fit. The Moab Ventilator is very sensitive on the trail, but the thin sole is not comfortable if you are traversing lots of point rocks.
The ankle collar, which is short compared to other boots, provides little ankle support, but the wide forefoot serves as a stable platform on smooth terrain. This boot feels very stable on smooth trails devoid of roots and rocks. Folks with trail hardening feet love this product because it is so light, not because it delivers support or stability. Consider one of the midweight boots like the Salomon Quest 4D II GTX if you need more ankle support.
On dry rock and loose gravel, the Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid offers great traction. Our traction testing found that wet granite and mud are not its forte; in these tests, we were slipping and sliding. Amongst the lightweight hikers, the Keen Targhee and La Sportiva FC ECO 3.0 offer better all round traction.
The second lightest hiking boot we tested after The North Face Ultra Fastpack Mid GTX, this product is feather light on the foot. For hikers and ultralight backpacker whose primary focus is light weight, this is a great choice.
Hot and dry days hiking, this is what the Ventilator is designed for. It will not keep your foot dry even when moving through dew-covered grass; however, it will dry out very quickly when you do get wet. If you like everything about this product, but need waterproofing, Merrell produces a version of this boot with a GORE-TEX liner, and it receives rave reviews.
This was the only product we tested that had seams coming unstitched after two months. There is no free lunch, and a lack of durability goes hand in hand with the Moab's light weight and low price. Applying Seam Grip to these high-wear areas will increase the life expectancy of this uberlight boot's upper.
Hot and dry trail hiking; hot and wet canoeing or canyoneering. Many Appalachian Trail thruhikers love this boot for the light weight and cushy comfort.
The Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid delivers hot weather performance at a very affordable price.
This was hands down the best lightweight boot we tested for hot weather hiking. If you don't need a lot of foot and ankle support, this is a great choice for day hiking and ultralight backpacking.
The Merrell Moab Ventilator, $100, is the low cut version of this shoe. If you're looking for the waterproof low cut version, check out the Moab Waterproof, $110. Below shows a comparison of the mid and the low cut versions.
The Merrell Moab Mid GTX and Moab Mid GTX - Women's, $150, are the waterproof version of the shoe being reviewed.
— Brandon Lampley
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Most recent review: May 22, 2015
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