The Moab Flight is the latest addition to Merrell's Moab collection of shoes and boots intended as an easy entry point to the world of off-road foot travel. Even though this shoe is designed specifically to fill the void of a trail running shoe within the lineup, a general lack of stability and traction means that it works better as a hiking shoe than a trail runner. This Flight's greatest asset is comfort, sporting an ample last that should accommodate any foot shape, an overly padded tongue, and a breathable, all-mesh upper. But we were unable to lock into a stable fit, and the outsole pattern is slick in loose and dry conditions as well as wet and muddy conditions. We're going to pump the brakes on running and stick to long hikes in the desert-dwelling Moab Flight.Editor's Note: We added this review for the Merrell Moab Flight to our lineup on May 11, 2022, and have included more information about value and suggestions for other products that may better suit your needs or budget.
Merrell Moab Flight Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Super comfortable, stable platform, breathable
Cons: Very poor traction, loose-fitting
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|Pros||Super comfortable, stable platform, breathable||Very protective, roomier fit than other models from La Sportiva||Ultralight, supportive, uncharacteristically agile||Well cushioned, comfortable fit, sticky rubber grips rock very well, decent price||Affordable, comfortable ride, versatile crossover option|
|Cons||Very poor traction, loose-fitting||Heavily padded tongue results in sub-par breathability||Loose-fitting heel pocket, lack of trail feeling||High heel counter, not the lightest||Soft upper is unstable, lacks energy, inconsistent traction|
|Bottom Line||An uber comfortable platform that works better as a long-distance hiker than a running shoe due to a lack of traction||This burly mountain runner is very protective and is an excellent choice for longer outings in rocky terrain||An ultra-supportive trail runner with an agile feel that is unlike any other HOKA shoe we've ever tested||A very well cushioned shoe that is optimal for heel strikers and makes for a great option for everyday training as well as ultra distances||A comfortable, consistent, and approachable shoe for those looking to crossover from roads to trail running|
|Rating Categories||Merrell Moab Flight||La Sportiva Karacal||HOKA Torrent 2||Salomon Sense Ride 4||Brooks Divide 2|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Specs||Merrell Moab Flight||La Sportiva Karacal||HOKA Torrent 2||Salomon Sense Ride 4||Brooks Divide 2|
|Measured Weight (per pair)||19.5 oz (size 9)||20.2 oz (size EU 43)||18.3 oz (size 9.5)||20.7 oz (size 9.5)||21.5 oz (size 9.5)|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||29 mm, 19mm||29 mm, 22 mm||23 mm, 18 mm||27 mm, 19 mm||25 mm, 17 mm|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||10 mm||7 mm||5 mm||8 mm||8 mm|
|Lug Depth||3 mm||3 mm||5 mm||3 mm||3 mm|
|Upper||70% recycled mesh||Mesh||Unifi REPREVE recycled mesh, TPU||Synthetic mesh||Mesh, TPU|
|Midsole||Merrell FloatPro foam||Compression-molded EVA/1.5 mm dual-density EVA||HOKA Profly: dual-density foam||Optivibe||Brooks BioMoGo EVA foam|
|Outsole||Vibram EcoStep||FriXion AT 2.0||Rubber||Contagrip MA rubber||Brooks TrailTack rubber|
|Lacing Style||Traditional||Traditional||Traditional||Quicklace with garage||Traditional|
|Wide Version Available?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Sizes Available||7 - 15 US||38 - 48.5 EU||7 - 15 US||7 - 14 US||7 - 15 US|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Merrell Moab Flight is a spin-off of the ever-popular hiking boot collection. Even though Moab is an acronym for "Mother Of All Boots" — and not a nod to the popular hub for desert recreation — this shoe does seem to thrive in warm, dry climates. The wide, highly cushioned platform uses Merrell's FloatPro Foam in the midsole to provide up to 29mm of padding in the heels. The full-mesh upper is highly breathable and made from 70% recycled material. The Vibram Ecostp outsole is also made from 30% recycled rubber, and the laces are 100% recycled material.
With a 29mm stack height in the heels that drops 10mm down to 19mm in the forefoot, the Moab Flight is certainly a cushy shoe, but nothing out of the design norm for modern trail runners. The proprietary FloatPro Foam errs on the side of comfort rather than responsiveness, but the sheer amount of foam in the midsole gives this shoe a comfortable ride even over rugged terrain.
The lack of a rock plate or shank gives this shoe a progressive lateral flex, so no matter where you fall on the stride spectrum, you're almost certain to touch down in a way that supports your gait. For those who toe strike, the outsole wraps up around the front of this shoe to provide a touch of extra protection. For those who heel strike, Merrell's Float Pro design extends the outsole almost 2.5cm beyond the heel cup. And for those with a midsole strike, there's plenty of padding to protect against rocks and roots.
Even though the Moab Flight is not named for the city in Utah, it certainly thrives in the desert. Dry, firm trail conditions are about all this shoe can hack. And even so, the thin 3mm lugs are not very consistent on trails with loose rocks — which, unfortunately, are practically every trail in the high desert of the Southwest. After a passing rainstorm, these shoes were even worse off in the mud. Eventually, we relegated the Moab Flight to a hiking shoe, as we were afraid of the potential for injury on trail runs.
The one word we keep coming back to in describing the Moab Flight is comfortable. And in the context of trail running shoes, often a comfortable ride comes at the expense of sensitivity. The combination of a thick, cushy midsole and lack of reliable tread doesn't lend itself well to connecting with the trail. To their benefit, the short lugs open these shoes up to the potential for crossing over to running on dirt roads and pavement. Indeed, their general lack of sensitivity means that these shoes are comfortable enough to log many miles on harder surfaces.
Merrell has built a popular following by offering ample lasts that fit practically any foot. As a spin-off of their flagship "Moab" collection — an acronym for "Mother Of All Boots" — the Moab Flight is designed as an easily approachable trail runner. The wide platform is perfectly stable for walking and light jogging, but the lack of torsional rigidity and low ankle cut does not offer any support on off-camber trails. Our lead tester has a narrow midfoot but a great deal of toe splay and is a huge fan of the fit of Merrell's minimalist offerings. But his foot slipped around too much inside this shoe to feel balanced or confident on uneven terrain.
Finally, we come to the best part about the Moab Flight — to quote ourselves, this shoe is comfortable. The Flight has an ample last that should accept most foot shapes. The breathable mesh upper incorporates an elastic mesh lining that hugs your foot and adds a bit of loft for improved airflow. The wide, cushy platform and padded tongue add to an already comfortable wrap. The 10mm of drop cants your foot forward and helps you maintain momentum, and gives this shoe a gliding ride over smooth terrain. Even on rough terrain, the thickly padded midsole is comfortable, just as long as you keep your speed in check.
By opting for an entirely mesh upper (there is only a thin strip of TPU film around the logo), this shoe can balance the weight of all the midsole foam. As a result, the Moab Flight tips the scales at just under 20 ounces per pair for a men's 9 US. Thanks to the ultra-breathable upper, this shoe feels lightweight on your foot, too.
Should You Buy the Merrell Moab Flight?
Similar to their hiking boot lineup, the Moab Flight is an easy choice as a solid, all-around trail shoe that is more than adequate for occasional trail running. This breathable trail runner thrives on dry trails and in hot climates. However, due to its lack of traction and stability, this is perhaps our last choice for running in technical, alpine terrain. But with its cushy platform and all-day comfort, this shoe is a solid contender for long day hikes in the desert.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
As the lowest scoring shoe in our review, you can only go up from here. Despite its relatively poor performance, the Merrell Moab Flight isn't cheap — in fact, its price tag is on par with some of the best trail runners we tested. If you are looking for an approachable, entry-level option, the value of the Brooks Divide 2 is unmatched. For top-notch performance from a shoe that offers a similar level of comfort and protection, check out the HOKA Torrent 2.
— Aaron Rice
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