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Men’s Merrell Moab 3 Review


When it comes to traction, the Merrell Moab 3 are a great choice from slick, sandy desert rocks to dry, packed trails.

Bottom Line

The Merrell Moab 3s are one of our favorite budget picks for their comfort, durability, and versatility – without breaking the bank. We’ve thoroughly tested these shoes over hundreds of miles across the Colorado Rockies, including section hikes of the Colorado Trail ranging from 8,000 to 12,000 feet in elevation. 

They offer robust, breathable performance from burly mesh and leather uppers and provide solid protection from rocks and pokey bushes. Plus they dry quickly and have great ventilation, making them perfect for warm conditions. The best part? You can wear these shoes right out of the box since they have almost no break-in period. 

However, the Moab 3’s stiff soles, traditional hiking boot aesthetic, and heavier weight may not appeal to folks who want sleeker, lighter footwear for longer hikes. But we love the Moab 3s because of their supportive insoles, soft yet firm midsoles, and excellent traction. These are a dependable choice for hikers who want the best in comfort, support, and protection.

Quick Specs

Stock image of Merrell Moab 3 Lows - Men's

Men’s Merrell Moab 3

Best Budget Hiking Shoes


Price:

$120


Weight (Pair):

1 lb. 9.1 oz.


Heel-to-Toe Drop:

11.5 mm

Pros

  • Less expensive
  • Very little break-in needed
  • More durable than trail runners
  • Breathable mesh
  • Excellent traction
  • Laces hold well
  • Dry fast for hiking shoes

Cons

  • Heavier than some
  • Not as flexible as trail runners
  • Bulkier outsole than trail runners

Man wearing a green sun hoody, backpack, pants, and Merrell Moab 3 poses on an uphill hike as he takes in the view of rocks and shrubs.
The Merrell Moab 3 offer excellent traction on many different types of terrain.

Comfort

The Merrell Moab 3s are as comfy as hiking shoes get. With a winning combo of burly but soft leather and breathable mesh uppers, this construction is breathable and fast-drying, making them a great choice for folks hiking in warm weather with sweaty feet.

The Moab 3s are incredibly stable and supportive due to contoured insoles with thick heel cushioning and a soft but firm midsole and require no break-in period. We found that from the first wear, the Moabs excel at absorbing impact and reducing fatigue during long hikes, making them a great choice for most trails and most conditions.

The Merrell Moab 3 offers cushy features like a heavily padded tongue and soft cuff design that prevents discomfort from pressure points and rubbing. Their long laces allow for easy adjustments to cinch the shoe tightly around your feet and lock heels in place, making them feel super stable. And, the thick toe and heel guards protect feet from trail hazards like rocks and roots, which means you can keep your stride without worrying about scrapes, bumps, or bruises.

Unfortunately, the Moabs have a high heel-to-toe drop of 11.5 millimeters. If you’re looking for a minimalist or low-profile shoe, these won’t be a match. We also find their bulky outsole design – although it’s incredibly stable and durable – can feel cumbersome on extended hikes compared to lighter trail running shoes. The stiff outsoles, a benefit when hiking on rugged terrain, limit their overall flexibility and responsiveness on technical trails with lots of rocks and roots. Despite these drawbacks, the Merrell Moab 3 is a dependable choice for day hikes and moderate trails if your top priorities are support, stability, and comfort.

A single Merrell Moab 3 shoe is posed on a reddish rock.
The cushy foam midsole and soft interior of the Moab 3s make these shoes tough to beat for comfort.

Traction

With their aggressive lug pattern and durable, stiff Vibram soles, the Merrell Moab 3s are one of our favorites when it comes to traction. Their deep 5 mm lug depth bites the ground and these things really stand out on uneven surfaces as well as soft dirt – making them a great choice for technical terrain and rocky paths. The reliable rubber composite of the outsoles offers a sticky texture that will make you feel stable and balanced even on steep ascents and descents, which helps reduce the risk of slips and falls. 

However, the tread design – though it’s one of our favorite things about these shoes – is also one of the downsides. Because of the spacing and sizing, the lugs tend to collect mud and gravel, which can diminish how effective the traction is. The Moabs shed the debris relatively well, but it takes a bit of stomping and extra work.

We also find the outsoles are thick and bulky compared to trail runners, which is excellent for stability and traction on more technical routes. But, it means the Moab 3’s soles are nowhere near as flexible or forgiving, so we don’t recommend these shoes for distances over 75 miles on established trails and would opt for more flexible trail runners instead.

A hiker sits with their feet outstretched to the camera showing off the lugs and grip pattern of the Merrell Moab 3s.
Few men’s hiking shoes offer better traction than the Merrell Moab 3s, thanks to their aggressive lug pattern and tacky, effective rubber composition.

Weight

The Merrell Moab 3 hiking shoes are in the upper middle of the pack for weight. At one pound, 9.1 ounces for the pair, these certainly aren’t the lightest option, but the additional weight is the key to their durability and protective features. The Moab’s thick outsoles are made from a burly rubber composite that adds significant heft to the shoes but makes them one of the best when it comes to traction and stability. The durable leather and mesh uppers combined with the cushy, thick EVA midsole also contribute to the weight of the Moabs, but these materials also directly translate to excellent comfort and better shock absorption, reducing foot strain on rocky trails.

This bulky design can be a downside for long backpacking trips and long hiking days, as it can lead to increased fatigue over time – and hikers who want lightweight options will want to look elsewhere. But, the Moabs are a great option for beginners, day hikers, and folks heading into technical terrain who need heavier shoes that are built to handle the path less traveled.

Man's legs from knee down wearing maroon socks and blue pants with Merrell Moab 3 hiking shoes walks along a narrow rocky ledge.
The Merrell Moab 3s aren’t the lightest shoes out there, but they make up for it with durability and comfort.

Durability

The Moab 3s are at the top of the list for durability thanks to their burly construction and smart design – which means fewer replacements and consistent performance over dozens of hikes. The blended mesh and sturdy leather upper strike a rare balance between breathability and longevity. Paired with double stitching, these materials not only protect your feet through the thickest bushwhacks and toughest trails but also prevent premature wear and tear.

The thick toe and heel guards also add longevity to the shoes in vulnerable spots while shielding your toes from sharp rocks, stabby bushes, and rough roots. Plus, the Vibram outsoles easily handle hundreds of miles of wear from dry desert routes to mucky mountain trails. The double stitching further reinforces critical areas, preventing premature wear and tear. 

Although they’re much more durable than trail runners, the Moab 3’s burlier design makes them a bit too hefty and cumbersome for lightweight hikers and long-distance treks. And, these durability features mean they aren’t as agile or flexible as lighter trail runners, which can affect performance on more technical terrain.

Man's legs from knee down shoes the back of the shoes with a sandy, red desert in background.
The burly outsoles of the Merrell Moab 3 are extremely protective, including a large heel bumper.

Weather Resistance

The Moab 3s are not the best choice for wet adventures. Made with blended mesh and leather, their uppers aren’t waterproof, and the Moabs tend to absorb water quickly. That said, they do dry very fast – we find in warm summer conditions, they dry most of the way within an hour after soaking – and will still keep your feet protected in light rain, occasional puddles, and mild, damp conditions.

The mesh construction also offers excellent ventilation that’s ideal for dumping excessive heat and avoiding sweat buildup to keep your feet cool, so they’re awesome on warm or strenuous hikes.

For mucky and snowy shoulder season hikes and winter adventures – or just trips where there will be lots of weather – we prefer the waterproof boot version of the Moab 3s, which effectively keeps water out. However, it sacrifices breathability and runs much warmer. Choosing the best version for you comes down to the weather conditions and personal preference.

Close up shot of man wearing hiking shoes with red rocks and desert in background
The Merrell Moab 3 don’t have much weather resistance because of their mesh and soft leather uppers.

Should You Buy the Merrell Moab 3?

The Merrell Moab 3s are the perfect shoes for hikers who want durable, comfortable, and versatile shoes at an affordable price point. They offer outstanding protection with burly leather and mesh uppers, making them a top pick for short to moderate hikes and trails. Their burly Vibram outsoles offer reliable traction that’s nearly unmatched on most surfaces. These shoes are well-suited for day hikes, light backpacking, and outdoor activities in dry to mildly wet conditions. Plus, the Moab 3s are easy on the wallet, so we highly recommend them for beginners and savvy shoppers.

But they aren’t made for ultralight hikers. Their weight and bulkiness can be a drawback for long-distance backpacking and technical terrain that demands agility, flexibility, and footwear with a more streamlined profile. And since they’re not waterproof, the Moabs are limited in wet, cold conditions.

And aesthetically, the Moab 3s aren’t for everyone. These things are the epitome of the classic hiking look, with earthy color palettes and a robust, traditional boot design.

But hiking isn’t a fashion show, and these shoes are super versatile. Whether you’re a weekend hiker, knocking out day hikes all summer, or simply want a crazy comfortable hiking shoe for the trail, the Moab 3s will check every box.

Man climbing a gray rock in Merrell Moab 3 shoes. Shot from the waist from knee down, this man is wearing maroon socks and blue pants with Merrell Moab 3 hiking shoes.
Climbing steep inclines is no issue in the Merrell Moab 3 thanks to their grip outsoles and aggressive lug pattern.

What Other Hiking Shoes Should You Consider?

If you’re kicking back in the Merrell Moab 3s, you might also want to stroll over and check out:

Danner Trail 2650: Similar in durability and versatility to the Moab 3s, the Danner Trail 2650s also offers textile and leather uppers that blend comfort and support for tackling moderate hikes. However, it’s a much sleeker and lower-profile shoe with an updated, modern style.

KEEN Targhee IV WP: The Targhee IVs are directly competitive with the Moab 3s and offer similarly durable leather uppers with an equally rugged outsole design for rough trails – but with waterproof protection, a wider fit, and an oversized toe cap for protection on rocky trails.

La Sportiva Spire GTX: The Spires are a heavier hiking shoe like the Moab 3s but they emphasize technical performance thanks to Gore-Tex waterproofing and a more aggressive, sticky rubber outsole that thrives above treeline.

A male hiker ties his shoes in a hunched over position to show off the length of the shoelaces on the Merrell Moab 3s.
The Moab 3s are one of our top reccomendation for sturdy hiking shoes with an excellent lacing system that needs minimal adjustments.



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