The Moab 2 is a forgiving, comfortable boot that fits the bill for anyone looking for a simple but solid hiking boot. It’s ready to go out of the box and provides adequate stability for any day hike or moderate overnight trips. It’s a very safe starting place if you’re new to hiking and unsure of your best option.

Though we found it to be a little soft and lacking in stability when terrain picks up, these aren’t going to be issues for the vast majority of interested people.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.7

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Out of the box comfort with next to no break-in required
  • check-mark
    Reasonable performance on a wide variety of trail conditions
  • check-mark
    Vibram soles hold up very well on slabby rock formations
  • check-mark
    Great starting point for most beginner to intermediate hikers
  • check-mark
    Contoured footbed for arch support
  • check-mark
    Breathable vents
  • check-mark
    Molded nylon shank

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markWaterproofing makes our feet uncomfortably warm
  • check-markThe collars tend to catch debris

Where to buy:

merrell-moab-2-ventilator.jpg

Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof

Specs & Features

  • Materials: Suede leather and mesh mixed uppers
  • Vibram outsole with 5mm lugs
  • Rubber toe cap
  • Weight: 2lb, 4oz
See the complete list of the best Hiking Boots here!

This soggy spring, we’ve put many miles on the waterproof version of Merrell’s much-celebrated Moab 2 hiking boot.

Pitting it against slick slabby rock, mud, gravel, snow, and a handful of stream crossings, we’ve concluded that the Moab’s gilded reputation is well-deserved. That said, it’s not the right fit for everyone.

Below, we’ll give you our complete analysis of the Moab 2 based on performance aspects and our thoughts on who might like it the most.

Comfort from the Start

Leather boots often require a break-in period before they’re ready for longer, more strenuous hikes. Not so with the Moab 2.

We found it soft and comfortable enough to jump on a trail “from the box to the rocks,” so to speak. It’s the kind of boot you can pick up at a retail store and drive straight to the trailhead in total confidence. Our initial test run spanned more than twenty miles immediately after lacing them up for the first time- discomfort was limited to a small blister near the end of the day.

We specifically opted to test the mid-height version of the boot because it most closely resembled other mid-weight hikers most day hikers prefer. This is a common theme for the Moab 2- there’s nothing groundbreaking about its build or technology, but it’s entirely centered around approachability and versatility.

On foot, the best way to describe the feel of the Moab 2 is “loosely locked-in.” It’s the soft catch of boots- unobtrusive enough to forget about with just the right amount of cushion and protection when you need it.

I err on the side of loose, minimalist footwear with a wide toe-box (see Altra), so when I encountered the snug heel cup and narrow body of the Moab 2, I was skeptical about how long I’d be able to tolerate them.

Several miles in, I was surprised to find I forgot I was wearing a new pair of boots and could focus on the scenery– while enjoying a little more arch and heel support than I’m accustomed to.

I still wasn’t the biggest fan of the narrow toe-box, and I suspect anyone with unwieldy flipper-shaped feet anything like mine will feel the same. Not a deal-breaker issue but by no means the ideal.

I have one other critique related to comfort, and I’m unsure where to put it, so I’ll include it here. I found the cuffs around the boots collected debris unlike anything I’ve ever worn. They funneled in dirt even more than low-cut trail runners. I tried adjusting the lacing around the ankles several times to no avail. Pine needles and pebbles consistently wormed their way up around the collar, and I’d pour piles of dirt from them after every hike.

Protection and Support

The Moab 2 occupies an ideal ground between protection and comfort for most day hikers and casual backpackers. In terms of terrain and activity, they will work well for most on-trail hikes carrying a regular load. If you have a heavy overnight pack, you may want to limit your terrain choices a bit more.

Particularly steep climbs with technical rock sections pose more of a challenge in the Moab 2’s. When the trail gets tough- or ends entirely- you’ll have better luck with either burlier alternatives, depending on your preferences.

In my time with the Moab 2, I thought it was great for most things that you’ll encounter on a single track, but when it came to pokey, rocky areas, there wasn’t enough underfoot support to justify the extra bulk of a boot. I was consistently a little too aware of what I was walking on around the ten-mile mark. They felt much closer to a pair of overbuilt trail runners than heavy-duty hiking boots.

I noticed a big difference between the Moab’s and standard runners when I was tired near the end of the day and prone to punting rocks and roots. My toes were certainly grateful for the additional protection from forward blows.

We opted for the mid-height version of the Moab 2, which is a sound choice for anyone in need of a little extra ankle support while traversing the unpredictable environs of a hiking trail.

That said, it doesn’t do anything incredible regarding side-to-side stability. The ankle cuff can protect you from twisting your ankle if you happen to step on a rock a little weird but doesn’t have the strength it takes to prevent devastating wrenches from big step-downs or if you’re moving faster than walking pace.

Traction

With the Moab 2’s being as soft as they are, I wasn’t expecting much from them in the way of traction. Again, I was surprised. The lugs held up well on loose, dry dirt and mud, but they could also hold their own on slick, rain-soaked rock.

We pitted the Moab 2 against as many kinds of terrain as possible, ranging from loose sandy embankments to refrozen snow on ridgelines. In each of these cases, they performed right in the middle of the pack. Compact dirt, snow, and gravel made for easy walking, while loose and loamy soil and sand weren’t any more unbearable than usual.

I’ll give the Moab 2 kudos for its rock performance. It’s not my favorite for scree and large chunks of stone because it’s so soft, but the flexible rubber soles had a surprising amount of grip on low-angle slabby faces. Keep in mind my experience centered around large pieces of smooth coastal stone and some boulder hopping in the alpine.

As a final note, I found the lugs on the boots to hold on to mud and gravel a little too well. I noticed myself clacking on parking lot pavement several times after a rocky hike. This didn’t impact the way they felt while hiking, but it’s a little annoying to spend time digging pebbles from the bottom of my boots after every walk.

Related Reviews

Breathability and Water-Resistance

The waterproof version of the Moab 2 is great for keeping your socks dry during drizzles but doesn’t breathe as well as other models as a consequence.

My biggest issue with the Moab 2 was my feet being considerably warmer than I prefer. There are mesh vents interspersed along either side of the boot, but they cannot compensate for the heavy inserts built to keep moisture out. Even during chilly early spring drizzles, I found myself sweating in my socks and uncomfortable after only a few hours of hiking.

For hikers with feet that tend to get cold this will be another beneficial element for their comfort.

On that note, I strongly prefer maximizing ventilation versus water resistance in my footwear. I did my best to set my prejudices aside while testing the Moab 2, but I still wasn’t a fan of the waterproofing for several reasons.

Aside from making the boot (in my opinion) intolerably warm, I don’t think that having waterproofing in a mid-height boot makes much of a difference, even when crossing shallow rivers. The few times I braved streams more than ankle-deep, I ended up with entirely sodden boots- and this wasn’t just due to the height.

The vents along the side of the boot make the waterproofing irrelevant when submerged. Effectively the inserts are only good for keeping your feet drier if you’re hiking through rain or dewy grass.

Durability

Given their softness and pliability, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well the Moab 2 has held up. This is one of the major selling points of the original Moab, and it’s good to see that the craftsmanship that earned their stellar reputation in the first place hasn’t diminished between models.

The extent of damage we’ve seen so far is some minor scuffing on the soft leather along the side panels from rock drag. Otherwise, we’ve been pleased with their performance. We’ll be sure to update our review if additional testing shows any major weaknesses or points of failure.

Who it’s for

Anyone in need of a solid hiking boot that doesn’t get too bogged down in the specifics. The Moab 2 brings the right balance of comfort and performance to meet the needs of nearly any hiker who needs something well-rounded for day hikes and low-stakes backpacking. Between the out-of-the-box comfort, durability, and above-average performance in a wide range of conditions, we think it’s a great fit for beginners choosing their first pair of boots to seasoned hikers looking at comfortable options for day hikes.

Backpackers with heavy loads, dedicated peakbaggers, or anyone with more specific technical needs will likely find the Moab 2 lacking.

The Competition

In addition to the Moab 2 being a well-rounded boot with wide appeal, Merrell produces many variations if the waterproof model isn’t for you. Different versions of the Moab 2 range from low-cut hiking shoes to tall “tactical” styles in a wide array of colors.

Most also let you choose the degree of weather or waterproofing you prefer- a mostly mesh ventilator model, waterproof, or Gore-Tex inserts.

The women’s hiking boot version is very similar in all but width. The high arch is particularly beneficial for a womens feet for support and grip. The Moab 2s do this well.

The Moab 2’s appeal is the comfortable and relatively lightweight way it approaches the concept of a hiking boot. The Salomon Quest 4 has a similar attitude to the Moab series, with significant technical competence, protection, and support improvements. It’s an excellent place to look for hikers who like the idea of a softer boot that can venture off trails and up slopes.

On the other end of the spectrum, REI’s Flash Boots wholly commit to the light and fast attitude. Their mesh body is great for keeping your feet cool and dry while tearing down trails. They’re also a great way to retain some of the supportive elements of hiking boots while avoiding the comfort issues associated with leather body builds.

Lowa’s Renegade’s compare only insofar as they are very comfortable and offer more stability on tougher terrain. But they aren’t a platform for more sporty hiking like the Moab 2s are.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.7

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    Out of the box comfort with next to no break-in required
  • check-mark
    Reasonable performance on a wide variety of trail conditions
  • check-mark
    Vibram soles hold up very well on slabby rock formations
  • check-mark
    Great starting point for most beginner to intermediate hikers
  • check-mark
    Contoured footbed for arch support
  • check-mark
    Breathable vents
  • check-mark
    Molded nylon shank

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markWaterproofing makes our feet uncomfortably warm
  • check-markThe collars tend to catch debris
FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What are the best hiking boots?

Everyone’s feet are different and so are their requirements for hiking boots. Whether you’re taking your first steps down your local trailhead or gearing up for a week-long trek in an exotic destination- paying attention to what’s on your feet will pay off. Our hiking boot buyer’s guide covers the basics of how to choose the right pair for your purposes as well as detailed comparisons of our favorites. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at some of our top picks.

Best hiking boots

  • Salomon Quest 4
  • Merrell Moab 2
  • Hoka One One Sky Kaha
  • REI Co-Op Flash
What is the difference between the Merrell Moab and the Moab 2?

Merrell’s Moab has maintained an appreciable following during its long tenure in the hiking world. When it was announced that they were making some updates to the boot in 2017, devotees were justifiably worried. Fortunately the updates to the Moab were mostly subtle, and comprehensively improved the build.

Major changes were mostly centered around reworking the footbed to improve stability. A reimaged heel cup and cushioned midsole have gone a long way toward softening on-trail impacts and making for a more comfortable stride.

These aren’t the only changes to the Moab 2, and they only tell part of the story about what makes it one of our top picks for a wide range of hikers. Read our full review of the Moab 2 here, and take a look at our buyer’s guide for comparisons without other favorites.

How long does it take to break in the Merrell Moab 2?

One of the best things about the Moab 2 is how comfortable it feels out of the box. It’s one of the few shoes that you can wear straight from the store to the trailhead without major consequences. Any breakin time is minor to help adjust the footbed to the shape of your feet. For more on the Moab 2 read our in-depth review here; and check our buyer’s guide to see how it compares to our other favorites.

How should hiking boots fit?

Different styles and models of hiking boots will feel slightly different on your feet; but as a general rule you want your hiking boots to fit mostly in the same way as a pair of running shoes. As a general rule they should feel snug in the heel, with enough room in the front to move your toes around.

Getting the right fit is as important as getting the right pair of boots for the job. To learn more about hiking boots and to see our top picks across the board- take a look at our buyer’s guide.

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