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Hands-on Gear Review

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator - Women's Review

Best Buy Award
Price:   $100 List | $99.95 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Comfortable, great traction, breathable
Cons:  Not waterproof, bulky design
Bottom line:  An affordable option for warm and dry climates.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Merrell

Our Verdict

The Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator hiking shoes are one of the most popular models on the market- and for good reason! They are both comfortable and supportive, with great traction and good ventilation (hence the name). The model that we tested was not waterproof, though it is available as such, and they are lightweight. While they might not last as long as a slightly sturdier pair, and the softer rubber soles will wear down quicker than a stiffer one, one of our testers wore these on the Appalachian Trail without any issues, so they will last a fair amount of time! We did prefer the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry - Women's, our Editors' Choice winner, for a better all-around hiking shoe, and the Hoka One One Tor Summit WP - Women's was the most comfortable pair that we tested. But considering how well this one performed and that it retails for only $100, this model is hard to beat and for this we've given it our Best Buy award.

In search of the perfect hiking boot?
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Mid
While we love a great hiking shoe, sometimes the job calls for a full-fledged boot. If you love the sound of the Moab 2 Ventilator but are in the market for something a little burlier, check out the Moab 2 Ventilator Mid, Merrell's boot version of the shoe we tested. For $110, a small increase on the shoe's $100 price tag, the Mid may be a great and cost-effective solution for hikers in the market for a mid-top. This boot is available in wide and waterproof versions as well.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Hiking Shoes for Women Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Cam McKenzie Ring
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Saturday
May 6, 2017

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The Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator has a classic, though slightly bulky, hiking shoe look. The upper is made of suede leather and mesh, with a mesh liner and EVA midsole. The sole is a Vibram TC5+ rubber with 5mm lugs.

Our Best Buy winner is lightweight and comfortable  and provides all the support and traction you need to get yourself into some precarious situations.
Our Best Buy winner is lightweight and comfortable, and provides all the support and traction you need to get yourself into some precarious situations.

Performance Comparison


The chart below shows how the Ventilators fared in our side-by-side tests.


Comfort


Comfort is a really a main consideration when it comes to hiking shoes, as an ill-fitting shoe or a lack of cushioning can ruin your trip. While not quite as comfortable as our Top Pick for Comfort, the Hoka One One Tor Summit WP, they still scored high in this category and we appreciated the cushioning found in this pair. They were comfortable straight out of the box (what we hope for in a hiking shoe), and require no break-in period.


This pair uses a blended EVA midsole, so they are not too soft, like the Ahnu Sugarpine WP - Women's, which leaves you feeling every pebble in the trail, or too hard, like the Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo. While some people might prefer more or less padding than others, these seem to strike a happy median. Note that this was the only pair that felt slightly small in the women's size 10 that we tested. Our toes almost reach the end of the shoe and we did have a bit of knocking when going downhill, so you might want to consider sizing up if you tend to straddle a size range. Online user reviews of this shoe seem to confirm this issue in a large portion of the purchasers. Note that it also comes in a Wide version, which is rare in the women's hiking shoe market. This pair and the Vasque Talus Trek Low UltraDry - Women's were the only pairs in this review to offer that.

These shoes are comfortable and require no break-in period - but they do tend to run small so you might want to consider sizing up.
These shoes are comfortable and require no break-in period - but they do tend to run small so you might want to consider sizing up.

Support


There were several things we considered when it came to the support of the shoes that we tested, including the arch support, lacing system and its ability to create some ankle support, and lateral movement. This pair received a great score for support as well.


There is a molded nylon arch shank that provides great (but not too much) arch support that doesn't compact with every step. The ankle opening comes up a little higher than some of the lower cut shoes in this review, like the Asolo Outlaw GV - Women's, and the laces allowed us to cinch down that area and create some good ankle stability for a shoe as opposed to a boot. They weren't quite as stable as our Editors' Choice winner, the Oboz Sawtooth Low BDry. That pair came up even higher and had a stiffer sole which allowed for better overall ankle and lateral stability, but these were still great!.

The molded arch support gave this shoe good stability  and even though it is a low-cut shoe we were still able to achieve good ankle stability.
The molded arch support gave this shoe good stability, and even though it is a low-cut shoe we were still able to achieve good ankle stability.

Traction


We were able to race up slabs with ease in this pair.
We were able to race up slabs with ease in this pair.

There were also a few different components that we considered for a shoe's traction score, including the performance going up and down steep and loose trails, and how they performed on rock slabs. This was another area that the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator excelled at.


The Vibram sole on this shoe has a unique design. Instead of traditional lugs, there are circles, swoops, and larger v-patterns. The rubber itself is on the softer side, and is very sticky. We scrambled all over Red Rock Canyon in this pair and they had no problem sticking to very steep slabs.

The unique tread on this shoe offered great traction on both trails and rock slabs.
The unique tread on this shoe offered great traction on both trails and rock slabs.

Weight


These hiking shoes weighed in at 1 pound 13 ounces in a women's size 10. That makes them only 4 ounces heavier than the lightest shoe in this review, the Ahnu Sugarpine. While two ounces per foot is pretty negligible, this shoe provided more support and a stiffer sole with that extra weight, so we do think it's worth it.


Water Resistance


This pair received a very low score for water resistance. Here's the deal with the Ventilators. They are made with breathability and ventilation in mind, and not waterproofness. It has a mesh liner instead of a Gore-Tex or other waterproof barrier, so after we dunked our feet in a bucket of water we had about 60 seconds before our feet were soaked through. This was slightly better than the Keen Voyageur - Women's, which soaked through in only 30 seconds.


When compared to the other eight models in this review that kept our feet dry for over ten minutes in our bucket test, we truly learned the value of a waterproof liner if you live in a wet climate or hike in variable weather. This shoe will still repel a light rain or walk through wet grass, and are in fact ideal if you live in the desert and only hike in the sunshine. Otherwise, we'd seek out a different model or the waterproof version of this shoe, the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof - Women's, which is still reasonably priced at only $120.

Durability


There were a few durability concerns for us with this shoe, including the softer rubber on the soles (softer rubber will wear down faster), exposed EVA midsole, which can snag and tear on brush, and the liner which catches pieces of vegetation and pills, unlike the smooth liner found in the Salomon Ellipse GTX - Women's. While the cut out leather on the uppers is nice for ventilation, it does create more places for failure and the seams are only single stitched. There is a small rubber toe cap though, which, while not as large or protective as the Keen Voyageur's toe cap, will offer more wear protection than a shoe without one.


Scrambling around in the Ventilators. The soft rubber that gives these shoes great traction also wears out faster than a stiffer sole.
Scrambling around in the Ventilators. The soft rubber that gives these shoes great traction also wears out faster than a stiffer sole.

Best Applications


Since the pair that we tested was not the waterproof version, we'd have to recommend them for hot and dry conditions as opposed to wet ones. In fact, these were our favorite pair to wear around our testing area of Southern Nevada. The traction on these shoes was also fantastic, so if you like to scramble around or bag trail-less peaks these are also a great choice. While we generally recommend using a higher boot for backpacking with a heavy pack, one of our testers did use these on the Appalachian Trail for hundreds of miles, so they are certainly versatile.

Veronica Long wearing the Ventilators on the Appalachian Trail with scree gaiters. These shoes lasted her over 1 000 miles of hiking with a pack.
Veronica Long wearing the Ventilators on the Appalachian Trail with scree gaiters. These shoes lasted her over 1,000 miles of hiking with a pack.

Value


The Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator retails for only $100, which is a nice break compared to the $150 and up models out there. We even tested a $210 pair, the Lowa Renegade II GTX Lo - Women's, which had about the same overall score as this pair. Might the Lowas last longer than the Ventilators?. Perhaps. But considering that these are considerably more comfortable for half the price, we think they are well-worthy of our Best Buy award.

Conclusion


Even though Merrell has slightly upped the price of the Moab 2 Ventilator, they still remain one of the least expensive hiking shoes available, while performing well in all of our tests, except for water resistance.
Cam McKenzie Ring

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Most recent review: May 6, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

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