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Merrell Moab 3

rated 4 of 5 stars
photo: Merrell Moab 3 trail shoe

A comfortable upgraded model from Merrell, that while grippier, still falls a little short for technical or long hikes.

Pros

  • Substantial shoe with lots of protection from sticks and shrubs
  • Very comfortable
  • New sole design appears to grip better than prior versions
  • Excellent stabilization of the foot
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Recycled materials
  • Consistent sizing—for Merrell
  • Breathes well
  • New double stitching

Cons

  • Sole is still not as grippy as many competitors
  • Heavy
  • Needs long-term review

I have a love-hate relationship with Merrells. I've worn several models over many years and have not had problems. Until I bought pairs manufactured after 2019. The Moab 2's I bought after 2019 were fraught with issues. The soles literally had chunks come off and the stitching all around was coming undone, particularly at the toe. And while I like the Moabs for casual hiking they simply are not grippy enough for snow or slick rock hiking. So they are my go-to shoes for smaller, non-technical hikes and that's it.

So when Merrell put out the Moab 3. I was pretty hesitant to spend any money on them. But, I had a gift card, so...

I typically wear an 8.5 in Merrell's and this is true of the the 3's. However, in Salomon's, Saucony, North Face and several others, I am a US 9 or EU 42.5. 

The first thing I noticed was the new tread. Gone are the stretched circles that in my experience were the first thing to wear. Also gone is the mid-foot 4 line section. These are replaced with more knobby looking circles. Sliding my hand across the sole, I could tell it was grippier. Especially that little 4 line area that in my opinion provides little grip.

20230220_093839.jpg
Moab 2 at top and Moab 3 at bottom

The outer shows some new design aesthetics, but for the most part, is pretty much the same. One welcome addition is the double stitching on the sides. I frequently had issues with stitching coming undone. This is particularly the case for the outer right by my pinky toe. This area with the flex and abrasion was prone to loose thread. So doubling up the threads should hopefully provide a fail safe.

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New double stitching - Moab 3 in the middle, 2's on top and bottom

  

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Moab 3 on the left, Moab 2 on the right

The toe box on Merrells has always been large and same goes with the Moab 3. I found the fit to be almost identical to the Moab 2. However, the new insole on the 3 does not hug my heel quite as well as the Moab 2. This may be a break-in thing, but I actually preferred the slightly more snug heel on the 2. We shall see how it feels in a few months.

Breathability of the 3's is just as good as the 2's. Lots of mesh everywhere lets lots of air in and keeps feet cool. These are the non-waterproof versions and on their inaugural hike, as the snow got warmer, the shoes did get quite wet, as should be expected. But, they did dry quickly and were ready to hit the trail the next day.

I do like the comfort of Moab 3's. I wore them around the house for a few days to break in and they were ready to go. They are a heavy shoe compared to my other lightweight options (like my trail runners), but there is some foot protection afforded by that girth and I appreciate that when hiking in overgrown areas.

20230308_134146.jpg
A girthy 1lb 14.9 oz for size 8.5 mens

As the sole has been my biggest gripe with the Moab's, I decided to wear a lesser worn pair of Moab 2's on my left foot and a Moab 3 on the right to see if I could detect a difference. The sole on the older 2 is a bit more worn, but not enough to highly bias my experiment. Even on the first ascent, I could tell the Moab 3 is gripper than the 2. There were several occasions going uphill, where my Moab 2 slide and the Moab 3 did not. Going downhill, the difference was much less noticeable, but still there. 

Having successfully tested the Moab 3 vs 2. I decided to do the same test with a pair of Salomons vs the Moab 3. The verdict was a slim win for the Salomons with less slippage compared to the Moab 3. 

20230308_132306.jpg
My Salomon vs Moab 3 test—Sorry, Merrell, Salomon's are still grippier

Overall I found the Moab 3's to be a good upgrade for Merrell, but there is still room for improvement in the grip. On the other hand, I suspect the sole may last longer on the Merrell vs a grippier sole that will wear faster. So when I need a technical or fast shoe, I may look elsewhere, but for the other 60% of my hiking the Moab 3's will be a good fit for my needs. 

I'll be sure to update this as I put them through more paces, just need some snow to melt so I can kick my boots off for the season!

Background

I have 3 pairs of Moab 2's and a closet full of other shoes for other outdoor occasions.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $100

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Specs

Men's
Price Current Retail: $49.00-$239.00
Historic Range: $10.27-$329.00
Reviewers Paid: $100.00
Women's
Price Current Retail: $70.59-$120.00
Historic Range: $44.95-$120.00
Product Details from Merrell »

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