Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator - Women's Review
Cons: Heavy, not waterproof, slow to dry, longer break-in, uncomfortable tongue
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Ventilator is a budget-minded shoe for day hiking or light backpacking. They get the job done without being a top performer in any metric, but maybe acing all of our metrics doesn't need to matter. Not everyone needs the best of the best, especially if you're just getting into hiking or need to score an affordable pair of shoes. These shoes aren't waterproof, and they will require some break-in time to be comfortable, but they are reasonably priced, reasonably comfortable once broken in, supportive, and durable.
Our lead reviewer did not find the Ventilator to be comfortable until they were broken in. That being said, with some wear, the soft ankle collar molds to your ankle and provides a plush feel. The tongue is thick to protect your feet from the laces, but it proved uncomfortable for our reviewer's bony feet. The midsole provides some support and comfort for the arch, and the toe box tapers a little, so if you get the average width shoe, the toe box will be a bit narrow. The laces adjust easily and provide a solid fit, which is a feature we like to see. For folks who prefer to wear aftermarket insoles, we found them uncomfortable in these shoes because they situate the heel too high — something to keep in mind if you need to wear orthotics or more supportive insoles.
The Moab 2 Ventilator provides a decent amount of lateral support when twisting them laterally. They rigidity from big toe to heel and pinky toe to heel is what we would consider medium. This will translate into more stability side-to-side, especially on longer hikes. That said, we were disappointed by how flexible they are in the forefront of the shoe, causing more foot fatigue in the balls of the feet over the long haul. The sole is thick in the forefront of the shoe relative to the heel. We found that when you wear aftermarket insoles that position your heel higher than the manufacturer's insoles, it can make the shoes feel torsionally unsupportive and more likely to buckle side-to-side. This wasn't an issue with the manufacturer's insoles, and they were otherwise laterally supportive.
The Ventilator features a Merrell-specific Vibram sole with an atypical oval tread pattern, rather than the standard lugs you see on other shoes. This tread provided reasonable traction on hard-packed trails and low-angle granite slabs. They would not be our top pick for more technical terrain or lots of scrambling, but for our local trails, they handled just fine.
With a measured weight of 1.81 pounds (28.96 ounces) for a pair of size 9.5 US, the Ventilator scored in the middle of the pack. We didn't notice their heft while hiking, but with their size and weight, they might not be ideal for carrying on your back while traveling.
To evaluate a shoe's water resistance, we wear them for 10 minutes while standing in 3" of water, in addition to testing them in the field. We also measured how much water they absorbed by weighing them before and after the test. The Ventilator soaked through within the first minute and were soaking wet by the end of the test. They absorbed 8.32 ounces (0.52 pounds) of water, which was the most water absorbed by any shoe we tested. They did dry faster than some of our other non-waterproof shoes, which is helpful, should you get caught in an unexpected storm.
It is challenging to evaluate shoes for durability when we test them for only a few months, though our years of experience have taught us certain things to look for. Over the course of our review, the Ventilator held up well without sounding any durability alarms. Over the longer haul, they will likely prove pretty durable, owing to their fairly thick Vibram soles and natural uppers.
Should You Buy the Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator?
If you are looking to buy an inexpensive pair of hiking shoes that perform decently well across most of our metrics for fair-weather day trips, then the Ventilator is a good option to consider.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
If saving money is a priority for you, then we recommend checking out the higher-performing but less expensive Merrell Siren Edge 2. They are less durable and supportive but more comfortable and have better traction. Similarly, if you prefer a waterproof shoe and can afford a slightly more expensive one, we recommend checking out the waterproof version of this shoe, the Merrell Moab 2 WP.
— Mary Witlacil
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