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I needed a breathable hiking boot to wear as my daily…

Rating: rated 4 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $100

Summary

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.

Pros

  • Durable compared to similar boots
  • Comfortable
  • Great traction
  • Breathable

Cons

  • 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).


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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.


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These are the treads after a year of use. More about that in the durability part of the review.

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.


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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.

FlipNC

Nice review. I haven't got around to reviewing my Ventilator 2s but agree with most of your points. I do think they are hotter than the original version which I still wear so have a direct comparison. I almost took offense to your opinion that they aren't fashionable... I wear them all the time to meetings and with shorts and consider myself still fashionable!


5 months ago
300winmag

Thanks for the review. I have this boot in GTX (well my most recent pair has a knock-off "Select Dry" BWP bootie liner). These boots are very durable for their fairly light weight. Well designed and have become a favorite. I also have Merrill MOAB low cut Ventilator shoes which I wear hiking here in the Mojave Desert and for creek wading in Utah's Grand Escalante area.


5 months ago
NM_forester

Haha fashion is very personal. No offense intended to anyone! All of my coworkers wear them - seriously, we were sitting around the office and realized we all had the same shoes. We're not the most trendy group of people.


5 months ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Great review, NM_forester! Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.


5 months ago
FlipNC

My wife disagrees about my fashion but leaves me to my own...apparently cargo shorts and boots are not in style any more or never were...except in our little world.


5 months ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the update, NM_forester. What do you have in mind for a replacement?


7 days ago
NM_forester

I’m going to try out Keen Voyageur Mids. I’m a little skeptical of the long term durability of the outsole on the Keens, but I like the way they look and they were super comfortable in the store - more comfortable than my Moabs. I think the most important factor in shoe selection is comfort/fit -these reviews are helpful, but I would tell people to buy a comfortable pair that fits well before an uncomfortable pair, even if the uncomfortable ones have better reviews.


6 days ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Yes, ultimately fit is personal and critical. Good luck!


5 days ago
300winmag

BTW, on both pair of my MOABs I place a strip of duct tape straight across the toe mesh about 1" back from the front edge of the toe cap. Then I coat that area between the tape and the toe cap with Shoe Goo. After it dries I color it with black permanent marker so it blends with the tow cap. This is to prevent the toe mesh from snagging and tearing, which it did on an older pair. P.S. Remove the duct tape as soon as you are done coating the toe mesh with Shoe GOO.


4 days ago