The Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof is a popular hiking shoe that performed well in our tests across the board, including being a top performer in the traction metric.
Hard at work, testing hiking shoes to help you find the right pair on the first try.
An uncomfortable shoe is not going to motivate you to go very far on the trail, which is why comfort is one of the primary considerations when it comes to hiking shoes. The Moab 2 Waterproof was not comfortable right out of the box — we felt they were tight and inflexible — but they loosened up after a few short hikes. While still not nearly as plush of a ride as other shoes that we tested, they are not uncomfortable once they are broken in. Remember to give yourself a few short hikes in these before you take them out for a big adventure!
The Moab 2 uses an EVA midsole with a nylon shank, so they are supportive without being super soft. If you prefer a more cushioned ride, you might want to check out our Top Pick for comfort.
It is worth noting that Merrell is the only brand that we found to run a bit short. With a thin sock we were okay with our normal size shoe most of the time, but wearing a thick sock made our toes feel quite cramped. We also noticed the shortness of these shoes on hikes with extended downhills, when our toes hit the front of the toe box. Checking online, this seems to be consistent with other user reviews, so if your feet are between sizes you may want to size up a half size. Merrell does offer this shoe in a Wide model, so it also worth a look if you have wide feet or like more room in a shoe.
The slightly long Salomon 3 Ultra X vs the slightly short Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof.
When we talk about support in a hiking shoe there are several things to consider: arch support, the lacing system and how well it provides ankle and heel support, and lateral support. The Moab 2 Waterproof did well in this metric as well. This was due to a higher ankle opening than many other shoes. In addition, the molded nylon shank is burly and keeps the shoe from feeling squishy with each step.
The fit could be a bit sloppy, allowing for less lateral stability. For hikes requiring a heavier pack and multi-day trips you might want to look at a shoe that offers more support and cushion, overall, but the Moab 2 is a star with a light or moderate pack (about 20 pounds). Our Editors' Choice winner is much more stable, as the shoe comes up a bit higher on the front of the foot as well as the sides, has a stiffer sole, and has a fantastic shape in the heel which allows for zero heel slippage and excellent overall stability. That being said, the Moab 2 Waterproof is still a great shoe!
When we evaluate traction on a shoe, we look at performance going up and down steep and loose trails, and how well they stick on rock slabs. This is another area where the Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof excelled, earning a high score in this metric.
Testing the Moab 2 Waterproof on mossy rock slabs, in the rain!
The Moab 2 has a Vibram sole with a unique tread pattern made up of circles, swooshes, and hatched patterns. The smaller space between some of the tread pattern was not quite as successful on loose scree, as shoes with a more open pattern seem to grab better. However, the softer rubber is quite sticky, especially on bare rock.
You can see that some dirt got caught in the smaller spaces of the tread in the Moab 2 (on the right) compared with the wider spaced lugs on the Hoka One One Sky Arkali on the left.
The Moab 2 Waterproof hiking shoes weigh in at 1 pound 11 ounces per pair in a size 7, which is eight ounces heavier than the lightest shoe in this review, and heavier than many pairs we tested. While we noticed this extra weight, the additional support and comfort are worth it. And it is lighter than our Editor's Choice winner by over two ounces, so being lightweight isn't everything.
However, if weight is a primary concern there are several lighter shoes in our test that performed well and might be good choices for your light and fast adventures. For straight-forward hiking, especially when carrying weight, we appreciate the support of the Moab 2.
The Moab 2 Waterproof performed well in our waterproofness challenges, including the bucket test, when they were submerged in three inches of water for ten minutes. As with the other categories, the Moab 2 wasn't the best or the worst but did perform well overall. The shoes did not leak, but they did absorb about two ounces of water. Additionally, the ankle opening is a tad short which will allow for water to flow in over the top in shallower water.
If you never require a waterproof shoe, this model comes in a nearly identical version that is extra breathable. It will repel light rain but is recommended if you only hike on dry days or in a very hot climate when breathability is key.
We tested these shoes on harsh lava rock and noticed significant wear after 30 miles. If you are hard on your shoes, these will likely not last as long as other models in our tests. The micro-fleece liner also catches on vegetation (again, Central Oregon has some prickly bushes) and may pill over time. If your home trails are softer and kinder, this may not be an issue.
There is no question that lava rubble wears down shoes quickly, and these Merrell's held up well.
Another possible worry is the cutout leather on the uppers which helps ventilate the shoe but does create another failure point. The seams do not have the reinforced stitching of more burly models. The rubber toe cap is double-stitched, however, and that offers additional protection and durability.
A mix of single and double stitching on the upper of the Moab 2 Waterproof.
The Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof retails for less than most of the hiking shoes out there. We even tested a shoe that is nearly twice the price, which didn't perform that much better. Considering that the Moab 2 does everything well for a reasonable amount of money, they are worthy of our Best Buy Award.
The Moab 2 is a great performing hiking shoe at a nice price!
TheMoab 2 Waterproof
is one of the least expensive hiking shoes available that also performed well in all of our tests. A solid choice!