Merrell MQM Flex 2 Low - Women's Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Comfort in a hiking shoe is paramount, and the MQM Flex provides a good amount of cushion underfoot, particularly in the heel. The fabric is soft and flexible, and the shoes do not require any breaking in to be comfortable. They are also breathable, making them a great choice for summer hiking.We did find that the mesh allows fine particles into the shoes and on dusty trails. We removed quite a bit of dirt from these shoes after hikes. The midsole is quite flexible and soft, making the shoe feel nimble underfoot, but it does not provide much protection from rocks. We enjoyed this model on mellow hikes with a predictable tread underfoot. It does run a bit narrow, especially in the toe box, which is something to keep in mind if you like to have room to wiggle your toes or wear thicker socks. The bottom line is that these shoes are perfectly comfortable on groomed trails and in hot weather, but their comfort quickly suffers as soon as you increase the ruggedness of the terrain.
Lightweight hiking shoes typically don't offer as much stability or support. This might not be an issue if you aren't carrying a lot of weight or heading out on multi-day treks. We found that the MQM Flex, though cushioned, does not have much rigidity anywhere in the upper or sole to provide the protection or support needed for technical terrain where the surface may be uneven or rocky. Long hikes left us with tired feet. Shoes that are slightly heavier are significantly more stable and allow for longer adventures in more varied terrain.
With decently deep lugs and sticky Quantum Grip rubber, we were pleased with the MQM Flextraction. The lugs held , hiking on looser surfaces well, and the rubber was grippy on rock slabs.
At 1.22 pounds for a pair, the MQM Flex is a very lightweight hiking shoe. The tradeoff here is a lack of support and waterproofness that would make it appropriate for longer hikes in unpredictable weather or when more weight is being carried. However, these shoes would fit the bill for light and fast hikes in dry weather.
The MQM Flex is not waterproof and failed our bucket test, as we would expect a shoe without a liner to do. However, there is a Gore-Tex version of the shoe if waterproofness is a primary concern (though it was not a part of our test), and the price jumps a lot to add this feature. The version we tested was adequate for keeping feet dry on dewy mornings or in a very light drizzle, but we would not recommend them for hikes where the weather might be unpredictable. The tradeoff for waterproofness is a high level of breathability, which can be appropriate for hikers in the desert.
While synthetic materials are inherently less durable than leather, the MQM Flex has multiple TPU overlays to protect the mesh. Within our test period, we could see wrinkles in the sole that indicate that the EVA midsole is being compressed. This is common in lightweight shoes, which typically have a shorter life than more durable hikers. We can't confidently expect this shoe to outlast its competition.
Should You Buy the MQM Flex?
The MQM Flex is affordable, bright, and colorful for lightweight excursions in dry climates. However, it lacks versatility and is most suitable for shorter, easy hikes. It lacks many features that most hikers value in a shoe. If you live in a warm, dry environment or can have multiple pairs of hiking shoes, you will find these to be a great value.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
We prefer the Merrell Moab 2 WP - Women's over the Flex if you want a great Merrell shoe. This option weighs slightly more, but it has a similar price and performed better during testing in almost every metric. If you want an ultra-lightweight shoe, we think the Arc'teryx Aerios FL GTX - Women's is the better option with impressive test results for comfort, support, and durability.
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