The Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator is a popular shoe from a well-established footwear manufacturer. You've probably seen this shoe, or one of its versions, out on the trail or at the mountain town watering hole. Pulled from the box, it's comfortable enough to head straight out the door. Without a waterproof membrane, it breathes well but wets out quickly in soggy conditions. It's also on the heavier side of competing hiking shoes and doesn't encourage you to pick up the pace. The traction is solid, though, and overall, this shoe is an affordable option for light to moderate hiking needs.Editor's Note: This review received an update on March 6, 2022, with two new sections to help you in your hiking shoe decision.
Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Great traction, out-of-box comfort, breathable
Cons: Not waterproof, heavy, average support
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Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator
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|Pros||Great traction, out-of-box comfort, breathable||Excellent performance, lightweight, great traction, water resistance, support||Secure fit, strong traction, stability||Supportive, versatile, well-cushioned||Lightweight, breathable, great dry traction, inexpensive|
|Cons||Not waterproof, heavy, average support||Cuff can be uncomfortable on ankle for some, Quicklace lacing not everyone's favorite||Narrow, tongue absorbs water||Average traction, regular width is relatively wide, hard to lace tightly||Durability concerns, not good for wet weather|
|Bottom Line||Day hikes and quick and light overnighters in dry weather are where this shoe performs best||This is a rugged hiking shoe that can do everything from day hikes to tackling long multiday backpacking trips||This comfortable and waterproof shoe has solid traction and a narrow fit||A comfortable and versatile pair of hiking shoes with a casual look great for taking from trail to town||A budget-friendly hiking shoe that is a perfect choice for those hiking in dry climates|
|Rating Categories||Merrell Moab 2 Vent...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Salomon OUTline Low...||Columbia Facet 60 O...||Vasque Juxt|
|Water Resistance (5%)|
|Specs||Merrell Moab 2 Vent...||Salomon X Ultra 4 G...||Salomon OUTline Low...||Columbia Facet 60 O...||Vasque Juxt|
|Weight (per pair)||2.20 lbs (size 11)||1.76 lbs (size 11)||1.62 lbs (size 10.5)||1.78 lbs (size 10.5)||1.90 lbs (size 11)|
|Upper||Suede leather and mesh||Synthetic, textile||Waterproof textile||Seamless mesh||Suede leather|
|Width Options||Regular, wide||Regular||Regular||Regular||Regular, wide|
|Waterproof Lining||None||Gore-Tex membrane||Gore-Tex||OutDry||None, just a gusseted tongue|
|Flood Level||4.375 in||3.25 in||4.25 in||4.25 in||2.5 in|
|Last Board/Shank||Molded nylon arch shank||ADV-C chassis||TPU arch shank||Not specified||Torsion stability TSS|
|Outsole||Vibram TC5+||Contagrip MA rubber||Nonmarking Contagrip rubber||Omni-Grip rubber||Vasque OTG|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Moab 2 Ventilator shoe is a fine hiking shoe for short, moderate ventures. It doesn't have a waterproof membrane and therefore is not for encounters with water. The thick upper is suede leather and mesh, with an EVA midsole, a nylon shank, and a Vibram TC5+ outsole.
There isn't much of a break-in period with these shoes. Our testers took them straight from the box to the trail. The spacious foot box didn't produce any pressure points or hot spots on the feet of our reviewers, but our feet did slip around a bit inside. The fit is looser than typical hiking shoes in this review.
The laces are thick and rounded like a cord. Our testers found that the laces came untied faster than other models. Of course, you can always swap out the laces for better ones. We prefer other designs that allow for more precise adjustments (tight or loose) throughout the upper for the lacing system. This shoe is quite breathable through its mesh, waterproof membrane-free upper, making it more pleasant in warm weather.
The Ventilator is one of the heavier hiking shoes reviewed. Some of the hiking boots we reviewed weighed less than this pair of shoes. On the trail, though, you likely won't notice the extra weight until you pound out a lot of mileage.
The support offered by the Ventilator is sufficient for light hiking needs. It has a wide forefoot to increase balance when powering off your forefoot, coupled with a flexible forefoot. Like its waterproof sibling, the insole is one of the beefier ones among the competition. Despite its nylon shank between the mid and outsole, this shoe provides only moderate torsional rigidity, though. It also has a rather low ankle collar, which doesn't help protect ankles.
Day hikes with a minimal pack of water, snacks, and camera are where this shoe shines. Hikers with seasoned, strong ankles can use this model for overnight adventures and medium packs with these shoes, but even seasoned veterans will want more support for hikes lasting several days or more.
This shoe grips most surfaces well, providing some of the best results at the end of our traction tests. It features the same outsole as other Merrell footwear, the TC5+ from Vibram. It hugs dry and wet rock as if it were a dear friend and performs about as well as any other shoe in mud and snow. It didn't eat loose sediment underfoot for breakfast but didn't leave us out to dry in scree fields either. Its overall traction is just a bit below the top performers tested.
The Ventilator is a capable light to moderate hiker. It doesn't excel in any single application, but it holds its own on pretty much any day hike. Its weight and bulk don't encourage picking up the pace to a jog, but that's not an important factor to all hikers. It's also not our first choice for backpacking trips lasting more than a couple of days.
The Ventilator does not have a waterproof membrane, which means that when submerged, water flows in quickly. It also wets out quickly when walking through wet fauna. This relegates this shoe to hikes when dry weather is assured. The waterproof version of this shoe didn't prove much better in wet conditions, as it leaked in our water resistance tests, despite its built-in waterproof liner. If you frequently hike in wet weather or on soggy trails, you are better off with better to go with a more battle-tested waterproof membrane.
Several of our testers have had Merrell shoes and boots last a long time. The quality is there. The Ventilator can withstand a lot of trail abuse and should last you hundreds of miles with a bit of care. The leather overlays protect the breathable mesh in the upper from wearing through, and the outsole showed no signs of wear following our testing period. One complaint, though, is that the seams in the forefoot are not double-stitched, which is what we prefer in high flex areas.
Should You Buy the Ventilator?
This is a good hiking shoe. We appreciate its bomber traction on and off the trail, and its level of comfort from Day One is awesome. If you need a pair of hikers that you can unbox and immediately hit the trail with, these are a great option. Nailing two of the most important criteria for this category, great traction, and comfort, this shoe is impressive. It is a testament to the quality of hiking shoes included in this review that such a solid hiker like the Ventilator falls to the middle of the pack. This shoe brings solid value to the table but is edged out by some of its competition.
What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?
While the attraction to a low-priced shoe from a quality brand is intriguing, we think this review has better options. The North Face Ultra 111 WP is our budget pick, and it scores higher overall than the Merrell. With better test results for traction and versatility, we think it is the better choice as comfort and weight are about the same. You also get some water resistance which the Merrell doesn't have. If you can afford a little more for your hiking shoes, the Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex is the better shoe and one of our highest ranking options. It offers more in every metric we tested, including comfort and traction.
— Ross Robinson
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