Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator
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I needed a breathable hiking boot to wear as my daily…
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $100
I needed a breathable hiking boot to wear as my daily shoe in the office and in the field. In one year of ownership, my Moab 2 Ventilators have kept my feet comfortable on rocks, trails, concrete, and pavement. I don't think they're fashionable, but they do what I need them to do. I think they are a great choice for hiking in warm weather for anyone who wants a mid-height boot.
- Durable compared to similar boots
- Great traction
- Not fashionable
- Not much ankle support
- Will eventually wear out and need to be replaced
Fit: These boots run small in my experience. I went with a size 11, but with most other boots I wear a 10.5. While I would have liked a little more room in the toe box when I bought these boots, not having more room has never been an issue for me. The lacing system is simple, but the laces hold in place well enough for me to customize the fit to the shape of my feet.
This photo shows the laces in action (the gunk on the toe of the boots is marking paint from forestry work).
Comfort: In terms of comfort, these boots feel like tennis shoes. People who wear all leather boots would probably scoff at calling them boots, so a better description would probably be hiking shoes. There is practically no break-in period. I bought them last summer and took them out in the field the next day to hike several miles with no complaints. There are no spots that cause irritation on long hikes.
Support: I didn't choose the mid boots for ankle support. I chose them for ankle protection—extra padding for my ankles in rocky terrain. They might provide some more support than the low model of this shoe, but don't expect anything like high-topped mountaineering boots. They offer more support than tennis shoes, particularly with their heavy duty Vibram soles.
Water Resistance: They are "Ventilators." I saw a review of these boots that docked points for not being waterproof, which is like yelling at your dog for not being a cat. No, they are not waterproof. They aren't water resistant. I have walked through dewy grass in the morning and my socks have remained dry, but if you step in a puddle your feet will get wet.
Traction: The soles are Vibram rubber. I might be falling for a marketing scheme, but I do think they are great. The rubber is grippy on rocks, and the treads provide traction without catching too many rocks or collecting too much mud. These would be perfect for long with lots of rock scrambling.
Temp Control: I usually wear these with mid-weight wool socks, so they're not exactly cool in hot weather. They are vastly more comfortable in hot weather than my previous boots, which were Keen Targhee waterproof boots. I have never owned the waterproof version of these boots, but I treat all claims to be waterproof and breathable with a healthy dose of skepticism. If you want to keep your feet from getting too hot and sweaty in the summertime, I would definitely recommend non-waterproof boots like these.
Features: Looking at Merrell's product description for these boots, I notice a few features. There is a "protective rubber toe cap." I haven't really noticed it, but yeah, there is. I guess it's worked well enough, because I have no complaints about toe protection. The Merrell M Select FIT.ECO+ EVA footbed seems pretty standard for a boot of this price. It is comfortable and hasn't fallen apart yet, but a lot of serious outdoors people will probably replace it with an aftermarket insole. I've already talked about the fancy Vibram sole. This isn't a feature-rich shoe, and the features that do exist do their job without being super noticeable. That's fine with me.
Construction & Durability: These shoes replaced a pair of Keen Targhees that lasted me about nine months. The thing that finally did them in was a summer working in the forests of Northern Arizona, where the volcanic rock tears up shoe soles like a cheese grater. I threw those boots away once there were holes in the bottom and replaced them with these Moabs. They have held up much better than expected, especially considering that I wear them daily for work. A year after buying them, the soles still have tread. Nothing has come apart.
Conclusion: I work in forestry, so I buy boots knowing that I'll be wearing them almost every day. I wear them in the office, and I also wear them hiking through the mountains and forests of New Mexico. I would recommend them for anyone who lives in places like the Southwestern US and wants more support than running shoes but doesn't want the weight of a heavy duty hiking boot.
There are disadvantages. Like most lightweight hiking boots, these shoes have a limited lifespan. They aren't the sort of boots that you keep for life, sending them in to get resoled every few years. They are durable, but not in the same category as something like the all-leather White's boots that firefighters and loggers wear into the woods. Also, compared to that sort of boot, the ankle support provided by the Moabs is negligible.
Style is in the eye of the beholder, but I don't think these are attractive shoes (maybe because Merrells have become go-to shoe for dads and grandads where I live). That doesn't bother me too much, but I might look for something a little cooler looking when these boots wear out.
If you meet someone who walks in the woods for a living, look down at their feet and there's a good chance you'll see Merrell Moabs. There's a good reason for this. If you know what you're getting when you buy them, you probably won't be disappointed.
Update: It's December 2018, and I'm retiring these shoes from everyday use. The Vibram soles have started to fall apart, and they look pretty bad. I'm going to keep them around for chores like painting or mowing the lawn, but that's about it. I'm replacing them with something different, but mostly because life's too short to wear the same shoe all the time. I'm looking for something that is similar but maybe looks a little nicer.