Reviews You Can Rely On

Merrell Moab 3 - Women's Review

This hiking shoe features a breathable and non-waterproof design offers a wide and stable base along with a beefy Vibram outsole, available at an affordable price
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Merrell Moab 3 - Women's Review
Credit: Gus Landefeld
Price:  $120 List
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Manufacturer:   Merrell
By Trish Matheny ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Apr 16, 2024
68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 18
  • Comfort - 25% 8.0
  • Support - 20% 8.0
  • Traction - 15% 7.0
  • Water Resistance - 15% 4.0
  • Weight - 15% 5.3
  • Durability - 10% 7.5

Our Verdict

The Merrell Moab 3 is a comfortable hiking shoe with a ton of support for high arches. The bellow tongue and ankle collar offer significant padding for additional comfort and support while also providing a snug and supportive fit that keeps out dirt and debris from the trail. The non-waterproof pigskin leather and mesh combination upper is perfect for those seeking protection during hot summer hikes at low elevations, thanks to the additional breathability. The new and improved Vibram TC5+ outsole provides confidence and security on most terrain types, though we do have some concerns regarding the longevity of this more affordable design. Overall, the wide and sturdy base provides great support as well as protection from rocks and stumps along the trail, our testers love this shoe for hot day hikes and find it supportive enough to carry the weight of a backpack during overnights.
REASONS TO BUY
Affordable
Great arch support
Beefy outsole
Solid traction
Wide and stable base
REASONS TO AVOID
Overly padded design hot in summer
Heavy
Mesh lacing system and stitching cause durability concerns

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Bottom Line This affordable hiking shoe offers great support for those with high archesThese shoes will encourage confidence with every step thanks to incredible grip and sticky Vibram rubber outsolesA comfortable, high-performing hiking shoe that's versatile enough to tackle everything from well-maintained trails to technical and steep terrainHigh performance without the added weight, this shoe is built for pushing the pace in mountainous terrainThe lightweight design and sneaker-like feel provide ample comfort under foot
Rating Categories Merrell Moab 3 - Wo... La Sportiva TX4 - W... Salomon X Ultra 4 G... The North Face VECT... Columbia Crestwood...
Comfort (25%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.5
Support (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.5
Traction (15%)
7.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
Water Resistance (15%)
4.0
5.0
9.0
8.0
3.0
Weight (15%)
5.3
7.4
6.5
8.0
6.8
Durability (10%)
7.5
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.5
Specs Merrell Moab 3 - Wo... La Sportiva TX4 - W... Salomon X Ultra 4 G... The North Face VECT... Columbia Crestwood...
Measured Weight (per pair, size 8.5) 1.70 lbs 1.42 lbs 1.54 lbs 1.34 lbs 1.50 lbs
Upper Pigskin leather, mesh Nubuck leather/1.5mm polyurethane TechLite rand/Vibram rubber toe rand Synthetic textile Performance mesh Leather, mesh, and webbing
Lining Recycled mesh Nonslip mesh Gore-Tex futurelight waterproof membrane Omni-Tech
Flood Level 3.5" 3.5" 3.75" 3.3" 3.5"
Midsole Super rebound compound Traverse Injection MEMlex EVA Single-density EVA Techlite
Outsole Vibram TC5 Vibram Megagrip Traverse with Impact Brake System Rubber Contagrip Surface Control rubber Omni-Grip
Width Options Regular, wide Regular Regular Regular Regular, wide

Our Analysis and Test Results

The pigskin leather and mesh combination upper is comfortable out of the box, while the EVA midsole offers awesome support, especially for those with high arches. The Vibram outsole provides a wide and stable base that will make you feel secure on the trail, while the non-waterproof upper remains breathable and perfect for hikes at lower elevations. While we do not recommend this shoe for any off-trail or technical terrain, it is perfect for those who are planning day hikes or backcountry overnights on well-maintained trail systems.

Performance Comparison


The Vibram outsole and supportive midsole combined to offer stable performance on most terrain types.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Comfort


The Moab 3 is comfortable directly out of the box. Our lead tester, who has a high arch and a narrow foot shape, found the design to be true to size, offering more room in the toe box than most hiking shoes that we tested. The pigskin leather and mesh combination upper is less rigid than its fully leather and waterproof counterparts, yet it still requires a few miles before finding its sweet spot in regards to customized support and flexion. The bellows tongue allows the shoe to hug your ankle for additional support, keep out dirt, debris, and snow, and keep your feet more dry and comfortable throughout the day.


Perhaps one caveat to this design is that it offers a ton of padding. Though not so much that you cannot effectively cinch down the laces and tuck the tongue into the shoe, the additional padding does create a bit of heat within the design, especially when hiking for long and hot days on the trail. Though comfortable enough to wear out of the box for a full day of hiking, our testers found that with a few miles under our belts, the Moab 3 offered more flexion in the combination upper for a more softened and customized feel that offered all-day comfort along the trails.

merrell moab 3 for women - though these shoes are comfortable out of the box, we found it took...
Though these shoes are comfortable out of the box, we found it took a few miles for them to hit their sweet spot, and we love that they are available in both regular and wide fits.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

Support


As soon as you put on the Moab 3, you can feel the molded nylon shank and Kinetic Fit Advanced footbed underfoot. These two features highlight both comfort and arch support as they form to your feet and create more comfort with every stride. Additionally, the Merrell Air Cushion offers shock absorption and protection from any debris encountered on the trail.


Our testing team can really tell the difference between the Moab 2 design and the now upgraded Moab 3 shoes that feel much more supportive in the midsole as well as more stable on the trail thanks to a wide and sturdy base. Our lead tester, who has a narrow foot shape and high arches, appreciated this additional support and increased comfort underfoot, especially when navigating uneven and variable terrain. It is impressive that this support is available in a more affordable hiking shoe that we're comfortable recommending for everything from day hikes to backcountry overnights with the weight of a backpack.

merrell moab 3 for women - the lacing system allowed for a snug fit along the ankle collar...
The lacing system allowed for a snug fit along the ankle collar which provided great support in regards to forward and lateral flexion.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

Traction


The upgraded traction of the Moab 3 offers a difference you can feel with tons of grip in every step. The beefy Vibram TC5+ outsole features a deeper lug pattern that we found to perform the best on loose terrain, such as sand and decomposing granite, while slippery rocks and boulders we encountered on popular trails required some more thoughtful movement. Essentially, the more surface area underfoot, the better the traction performed.


When moving through lingering snow fields and over slippery tree branches, we did notice the tendency for the shoe to slip out from underneath us, so we recommend exercising more caution in that terrain. Otherwise, the multi-directional lug pattern of the Vibram TC5+ outsole is a vast improvement from its predecessor, the Moab 2, and gives us confidence and stability when moving through a variety of mountainous terrain.

merrell moab 3 for women - the upgraded vibram outsole provided enough traction on most terrain...
The upgraded Vibram outsole provided enough traction on most terrain types to increase our confidence when navigating ever changing terrain.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

Water Resistance


It is important to note that the Moab 3 is not a waterproof design; however, its pigskin and mesh combination upper combined with a 3.5" flood height will buy you some time as you navigate swollen creeks and snowfields. Our testers found that when submerging in a creek, it took about 20 seconds for water to permeate the upper. We also noted that the mesh exterior absorbed water into the design and required more time to completely dry.


The 2" thick beefy outsole provides a higher base than other minimalist shoes that we tested, offering more protection and clearance above the water and helping to keep your feet dry during creek crossings. For those hikers with plans to hike in the heat of summer at low elevations, a non-waterproof option, like the Moab 3 could be a great consideration to keep your feet cooler by allowing them to breathe through the permeated mesh design.

Though not a fully waterproof design, the high flood level allows for more clearance above intermittent streams.
Credit: Trish Matheny

Weight


While the Moab 3 offers great performance at an affordable price, it is not the lightest shoe that we tested; in fact, it is one of the heavier shoes in the entire review. Weighing 1.7 pounds for a US Women's size 8.5, it doesn't offer the same lightweight feel nor the same responsiveness that some of the hiking/running shoe hybrids can provide.


Our testers found the additional weight of this shoe rather undetectable when hiking for just a few hours, however, when putting in lots of miles, especially with the weight of a backpack, these ounces become more and more noticeable, often fatiguing our feet more so than other lighter weight options that we've tested. On the flip side of the coin, this additional weight provides more protection on the trail, thanks to a beefy design that includes a rubber toe cap and substantial Vibram outsole.

merrell moab 3 for women - though not the lightest of the bunch, the beefy outsole and...
Though not the lightest of the bunch, the beefy outsole and supportive midsole make up for the additional weight under foot.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

Durability


The Moab 3 design includes a thick and durable toe cap, a beefy Vibram outsole that measures over 2 inches, and a rubber heel that combines to provide protection and increased support for your hard-working feet along the trail. The pigskin leather and mesh combination upper is well-constructed, though this non-waterproof shoe doesn't feature a protective coating to increase the overall durability of the upper.


During our testing period, we couldn't help but notice how vulnerable the mesh upper is when navigating technical trails and sharp rocks, especially as the material bends when you're transferring your weight over rocks and stumps. The lacing system is also designed from recycled material, and the attachment points feature mesh loops (except for the final lace near the ankle) rather than eyelets that are reinforced with metal. Over time, we anticipate these attachment points could fail from the torque applied to the mesh when lacing the shoe. Therefore, we recommend reversing the final lace near the ankle, which helped our testers tighten the laces more easily and will hopefully extend the life of the shoe. While the Moab 3 offers a bulky and protective design along with a thick Vibram outsole that provides enough stability to support the additional weight of a heavy backpack, we recommend sticking to well-maintained trail systems.

merrell moab 3 for women - while we didn't experience any durability issues during testing, we...
While we didn't experience any durability issues during testing, we don't love that the lacing attachments are constructed from mesh and webbing rather than reinforced metal eyelets.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

Should You Buy the Merrell Moab 3?


If you're interested in a more affordable hiking shoe that features a supportive and comfortable design with options for those with both regular and wide foot shapes, the Merrell Moab 3 should be a consideration at the top of your list. This design combines pigskin leather and recycled mesh to offer a breathable upper that is perfect for those who plan to hike at low elevations during the heat of the summer. The Vibram TC5+ outsole offers great traction on most terrain types, while the rubber heel and toe cap combine to protect your feet from rocks and stumps encountered on the trail. Though this affordable design impressed our testing team with top performance, we do foresee some issues with durability in the mesh upper, the stitching along the toe cap, and the mesh attachments for the lacing system. That being said, this shoe is perfect for those seeking out well-maintained trail systems for day hikes or backcountry overnights.

merrell moab 3 for women - the merrell moab 3 is a great option for those seeking a supportive...
The Merrell Moab 3 is a great option for those seeking a supportive midsole, a substantial outsole, with enhanced breathability due to its non-waterproof design.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

What Other Women's Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?


The Merrell Moab 3 is a more affordable hiking shoe that offers excellent support, especially for those with high arches. It comes in regular and wide widths for a more comfortable fit, and it offers a sturdy base and beefy outsole that gives you confidence on the trails. If you're after an even more affordable shoe with a similar design, check out the Columbia Crestwood that also features regular and wide options along with a softer upper that offers more comfort out of the box along with a surprising amount of performance. And if you want to invest in a hiking shoe that prioritizes durability, comfort, and stability that is perfect for any trail, check out our favorite, the La Sportiva Spire GTX. This fully waterproof upper combines with abrasion-resistant mesh and an EVA midsole for top-of-the-line performance.

merrell moab 3 for women - though the mesh and leather upper took on a bit of moisture when...
Though the mesh and leather upper took on a bit of moisture when moving through snow fields, the water did not reach the inside of the shoe.
Credit: Gus Landefeld

Trish Matheny