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Merrell MQM Flex

rated 4 of 5 stars
photo: Merrell MQM Flex trail shoe

The Merrell MQM Flex is a pleasant surprise and a good value. Not quite a trail runner, the MQM Flex is a moderately priced, non-waterproof light hiking shoe that has proven itself over the miles.


  • Solid cost:performance ratio
  • Wide toe box
  • Lace Lock eyelet and non-slip heel, preventing blisters
  • Lugs stick and hold
  • Weight


  • Dry more slowly
  • Cheap insoles
  • Not sure about 500 miles

I have backpacked in these shoes for about 150 miles in the Ozark Mountains before posting this review. This includes two 50-mile trips and a few shorter excursions. I feel a hiker should be able to count on a solid 500 miles in a pair of lightweight shoes, and the 150-mark is a good test of performance and durability. 

After my poor experience with Merrell’s Moab Edge, I wanted to ensure they were well-tested. I was hesitant to stick with the brand after the Edge’s poor performance. However, the owner of my local shoe store suggested I try the MQM Flex, and since the bright orange model was on a clearance sale, I thought I would take a gamble. (Note, this is where I list the pro on cost:performance ratio. If you are willing to take the bolder colors, you can pick these up relatively cheap.). 

Fit, Comfort, & Support: Out of the box, the MQM Flex feel good on the feet. No break in time is needed. The wide toe box allows toes to splay. One of my complaints with hikers is after dropping $$$ on the shoes, you are expected to spend more on a quality insole. Surprisingly, I did not feel the need to replace the insoles on this shoe, and I have had no problems using the stock insole. Others may feel otherwise. I sized these 11. Although I have had no problems, I would recommend going a half-size larger than your daily footwear, especially if you are adding a custom insole. 

Heel Lock: The heel lock features on this shoe help prevent blisters. Trying to understand what Merrell means by “HyperLock™” took some research beyond the marketing jargon. Essentially, the heel cup is treated with Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), and this is supposed to keep the heel in place. 


What I really like is the extra eyelet for lace locking. These eyelets are standard on most running shoes, but I have only seen a few light hikers with that feature. I feel this addition is what keeps the heel in place more than the TPU. Ultimately, the heel stays in place.


Weight: At only 13.1oz per shoe (size 11), the MQM Flex definitely competes with slightly lighter trail runners. While I do not consider these shoes runners, I have seen online posts of people using them for that purpose. 


Traction: Merrell gets away from their stock Moab soles with this shoe and provides a more aggressively-lugged sole. At 3.5mm, they provide a good grip on the exposed, wet limestone of the Ozark Mountains. I have not encountered notable slippage on any of my treks. 

Temp Control: The shoes strike a decent balance between breathing well and keeping out dust and debris. The padding on the tongue and around the ankle is warm and absorbs moisture, making them dry slowly. 

Durability: This is where the MQM Flex loses a star. The soles are where I would expect them to be after carrying a 170lb hiker wearing a 25lb pack for 150 miles. However, the uppers are showing signs of wear that has me a bit concerned. Maybe I am just being paranoid after my poor experience with the Moab Edge, but I am wondering if the uppers will give out before the soles. Of course, a shot of Shoe Goo may do the trick. I will try to update this review when I get closure to the 500-mile mark. 


Summary: Good bang for the buck, especially when you can find them on sale.  


150 miles on this pair of shoes backpacking in the Ozark Mountains.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $60

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Price Historic Range: $39.00-$110.00
Reviewers Paid: $60.00
Weight 1 lb 3 oz / 544 g
Lug Depth 3.5 mm
Price Current Retail: $149.95
Historic Range: $22.00-$179.95
Product Details from Merrell »

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