Hands-on Gear Review

Merrell Azura - Women's Review

Price:  $100 List | $101.50 at Amazon
Pros:  lining suited for cool to cold weather, well-padded around ankles, semi-aggressive tread, sturdy soles
Cons:  bulky design, minimal cushioning, lacking support for long distances
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Actual Weight (size 8):  1.57 lbs
Sizes Available:  Sizes 5-12
Upper:  Waterproof nubuck, suede, mesh upper
Manufacturer:   Merrell

Our Verdict

As if we needed another reason to love Merrell's quality hiking footwear. The Azura represents a marriage of our Best Buy awarded Merrell Siren Sport 2 - Women's with the Merrell Moab Ventilator - Women's. The Azura have stiff, solid soles for managing rugged terrain yet provide great padding on the tongue and around the ankle for comfort. They weigh in right in the middle of the other Merrell hiking shoes, feeling light yet sturdy while on trail. The antimicrobial lining found in previously reviewed Merrells has been replaced with an M Select Fresh odor control that adds to the breathability in the Azura. With neutral color options, they are suitable for wearing on and off the trail. Like all Merrell hiking shoes that we have reviewed, they are comfortable straight out of the box!

Discontinued - November 2016
The Azura has been discontinued. Check out our complete Women's Hiking Shoe Review for other recommendations!


RELATED REVIEW: The 12 Best Hiking Shoes for Women

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Briana Valorosi

Last Updated:
Wednesday
November 23, 2016

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The Merrell Azura hiking shoes are ideal for spring and fall conditions. From rocky terrain, encounters with snow and creek crossings, and unpredictable weather, the Azuras offer insulating properties and stiff soles for rugged trails.

Performance Comparison


Hiking along river banks in the Rocky Mountains.
Hiking along river banks in the Rocky Mountains.

Weight


At 1.57 pounds per pair, the Azuras are an average weight among our reviewed women's hiking shoes. They are only 0.2 pounds heavier than the award winning, lightweight Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh - Women's shoes that have mesh on the uppers, open cell foam foot beds, and lighter weight EVA midsoles. Compared to the Vasque Grand Traverse shoes that weigh practically the same (1.55 pounds), the Azura feels lighter underfoot with a similarly narrow shape.

Comfort


Like the Siren Sport and Moab Ventilator, the Azura is well-padded and comfortable in some regards, but do not offer an excellent level of overall comfort. The ankle padding and tongue padding add comfort to the adjustment points and friction prone areas of the feet, but underfoot the lining and insoles are stiff. The 70% recycled foam foot beds are best suited for flat feet and those seeking minimal padding. For hikers seeking a well-padded insole and liner, we recommend the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh or Salomon Ellipse - Women's. Lending to comfort and support, the eyelet design on the Azuras is ideal - well spaced and raised slightly off of the foot with the nylon eyelets. The mesh incorporated with the nubuck and suede uppers adds breathability during warm weather and long hikes. After miles on the trail, we found these shoes to retain the same comfort level from trailhead to camp and back.

While searching for the ideal hiking footwear  note where the shoes crease on the tops of the toes and feet. The Merrell Azura (now discontinued) are spacious in the toes and have mesh panels over the forefoot for flexibility  though they feel more limited in flexibility than other shoes.
While searching for the ideal hiking footwear, note where the shoes crease on the tops of the toes and feet. The Merrell Azura (now discontinued) are spacious in the toes and have mesh panels over the forefoot for flexibility, though they feel more limited in flexibility than other shoes.

Support


Many low profile trail shoes exclude a shank in the midsole for the sake of keeping weight low. The Azura has an integrated arch shank, creating stiffness underfoot. This offers arch support. The stiffness lends to comfort and support on rugged, uneven terrain as the soles do not bend or flex on rocks or trail obstacles. For those seeking pronounced arch support, you may prefer to add orthotics or aftermarket insoles to create adequate support.

The tops of these shoes are designed with a combination of nubuck, suede, and mesh. Compared to shoes like the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh or the Keen Marshall, the range of flexibility in the forefoot area is limited. Hiking shoes with predominately mesh uppers offer a higher degree of flexibility above the toes than ones with a leather-mesh combination. Overall, the firmness of the Azura's soles allow for comfort and excellent support on rugged terrain but we don't recommend them for long distances or heavyweight backpacking. The lacing system is suited for personalized fit, particularly against the top of the shoe near the ankle.

Traction


Through mud, across rocky trails, and in sand, the Azura maintains plenty of traction to keep you on your feet. We tested these shoes in a range of spring conditions, including snow, and are satisfied with the level of traction acquired by the 4mm lug depth and Merrell specific M Select GRIP. The proprietary design is slip resistant on wet or dry terrain, making them suitable for a wide range of conditions. The stiff soles do not offer much for sticky traction on steep rock surfaces or slick inclinations. For an approach shoe level of traction in a hiking shoe, consider the Vasque Grand Traverse - Women's which has a tread pattern that is comparatively uniform, ultimately limiting the traction in deep mud or wet snow. For a varied tread pattern that excels in mud and snow, check out the Salomon X Ultra GTX - Women's.

Rock hopping to avoid the mud? Either route is fine in a good pair of hiking shoes. The Azuras offer traction on rocks and excellent tread for managing sticky mud.
Rock hopping to avoid the mud? Either route is fine in a good pair of hiking shoes. The Azuras offer traction on rocks and excellent tread for managing sticky mud.

Versatility


Overall versatility is lacking with the Azura. They are best suited for hiking in the spring and fall, with some versatility for mild winter conditions. The design is less bulky then that of the Merrell Moab Ventilator, although not as town-friendly as the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh. For easy to moderate trails they are comfortable and supportive. For rock scrambling, peak bagging, or other semi-technical hiking, we recommend a more aggressive tread and more supportive midsole such as found on the the Editors' Choice winning Salomon Ellipse GTX.

Rocky terrain? Tree roots? Mud? No problem! With the sturdy soles of the Azuras  your hiking will not be compromised by rugged trails.
Rocky terrain? Tree roots? Mud? No problem! With the sturdy soles of the Azuras, your hiking will not be compromised by rugged trails.

Water Resistance


Waterproof nubuck uppers lend to water resistance in light rain and through mild winter snow conditions. In spring mud and shallow run off, the Azura kept our socks and feet dry. Because of the thick outer materials, they do not dry as fast as shoes with lighter mesh uppers. For a water resistant hiking shoe, both pairs of Salomon shoes in this review have waterproof/breathable Gore-tex membranes. For a fast drying hiking shoe, both the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh and Keen Marshall have quick drying, lightweight, mesh uppers.

The Azuras have M Select Grip soles for sturdy support. In shallow water crossings  they remained comfortable and dry.
The Azuras have M Select Grip soles for sturdy support. In shallow water crossings, they remained comfortable and dry.

Durability


The Azura hiking shoes are designed of nubuck and suede with small sections of mesh, which lasts longer than shoes made primarily from mesh. The sturdy soles maintain the shape and semi-aggressive stiffness of the shoes. Reinforced leather and rubber on and under the toes offers durability against contact. On rocky terrain and in variable spring hiking conditions, they proved to be durable against abrasion and weathering.

Best Applications


Day hiking on easy to moderate terrain and light overnight backpacking trips are where these shoes are most at home. They are lightweight and comfortable, yet lack in adequate support for difficult terrain or long distance backpacking. Spring and fall are the best seasons for these shoes as the thick uppers are less breathable than the full mesh uppers of summer hiking shoes, offering warmth in cool weather. The M Select GRIP tread is suitable for winter hiking on packed snow or well traveled terrain. We would not recommend these shoes for winter hiking in fresh snow.

Go for a hike and enjoy incredible landscapes. With a good pair of hiking shoes  you can worry more about what's for lunch and less about your comfort and support.
Go for a hike and enjoy incredible landscapes. With a good pair of hiking shoes, you can worry more about what's for lunch and less about your comfort and support.

Value


At $100, these are among the least expensive women's hiking shoes in our review. They are a good value, comparable to the Best Buy awarded Siren Sport 2 in features and design. For a great summer hiking shoe, the Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh is priced slightly higher and earned our Top Pick comfort and light weight. For a great three-season value, the Salomon Ellipse GTX is only $20 more and won our Editors' Choice award.

Conclusion


The Azura hiking shoes are a lightweight option for women seeking the top qualities of other Merrell shoes - semi-aggressive tread, mesh and leather combination uppers, breathability, and Vibram soles. They are stable and sturdy on rocky terrain, moderate trails, and even snow. For day hiking and light backpacking in spring and fall, the rigid soles and padded uppers keep feet secure and warm.
Briana Valorosi

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Most recent review: November 23, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
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3 star: 100%  (1)
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