REVIEW : Merrell Moab Boots

Merrell Moab mid ventilator and waterproofLet’s get the disclaimer out of the way right off the bat…I have really screwed-up feet. My left foot has been torn up from years of hiking and abuse as a firefighter. It is hard to find footwear that fits well. Whew! Nice to have that out of the way.

I live in the desert southwest, it’s hot most of the time. It is also sandy, thorny, rocky, and throw in an occasional snake. Great place to live, eh?

And now add to all of that I am a person who likes my feet to be comfortable. Go figure! That little tidbit means I am always looking for the next comfortable pair of boots. Yeah, boots. I have the “shoe” thing figured out just fine, boots are my biggest problem.

A while back I did a review on my Whites boots < read the review here > and on my Lowa Tibets < read the review here >. I like both of them. But they are specialty boots; Whites for heavy-duty heavy-haul hiking and firefighting, Lowa’s for the same but for cold weather. What I was looking for this time was a pair of really comfortable boots to wear in hot weather, around town or out in the desert. The name Merrell kept popping up as a good quality choice.

Merrell moab ventilator midOver three years ago I purchased a pair of Merrell Moab Ventilator Mid’s. I like them a lot! The are super comfortable, lightweight, and protect my ankle well.

Here are some formal technical specifications:

UPPER/LININGMerrell moab ventilator mid
• Dura leather and mesh upper
• Bellows tongue keeps debris out
• Synthetic leather toe cap and heel counter
• Breathable mesh lining treated with Aegis™ antimicrobial solution
• Ortholite™ anatomical footbed

• Molded nylon arch shank
• Compression molded EVA footframe for stability and comfort
• Merrell QForm™ Comfort midsole provides women’s specific stride-sequenced cushioning
• Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
• 5mm sole Lug depth
• Vibram® multi-sport sole/ TC5+ Rubber
• Weight: 1lb 13oz

Why “mid” height footwear? To protect my ankles and add a little stability. For those of you that have done the tactical thing you know what it feels like to whack your ankle. Ouch! The Moab has a nicely padded upper that protects the ankle really well. The way it is designed it also does give some support to the foot/ankle area. No, not like a 8” or 9” boot would, but I wasn’t looking for that kind of boot.

So the Moab Ventilator was/is a great boot. But, there are a couple of drawbacks; 1) it allows sand to enter the shoe through the venting material, 2) it isn’t waterproof/resistant.

Yes, I hate getting sand into my shoes. It just feels nasty and uncomfortable. But worse than that is the whole wet foot thing. I don’t appreciate wet feet.

So the solution was pretty simple Merrill’s Moab Waterproof Mid. Pretty clever, eh?

Merrell moab waterproof midMerrell makes the waterproof version of the Ventilator. It is basically the same boot with a waterproof bootie sown to the inside of the boot. Pretty clever of them, eh?

They are just as comfortable as the Ventilator with the added benefit of the waterproofing. The wateproofing technology that Merrell uses is called “M-Select Dry.”

Merrell M-Select Dry

Below is a 13 second video that shows the technology at work…

Yes, they cost a bit more but so far they appear to be worth it for being warmer. As for the “waterproof” aspect…well, I haven’t tested that yet. But I will. What I have been reading from those folks that have purchased the boots is mixed. Some are saying they are very waterproof and hold up well. Others are saying the opposite. I will test and get back to you.

Now, let me make comments now that apply to both the Ventilator and the Waterproof versions…

The boots are super comfortable. They feel like putting on a padded, comfortable pair of gloves. The truly mold to your feet and just make them feel happy. There is plenty of support on the sides due to the leather “strapping” in the right locations. The boot isn’t exactly a lace-to-toe but the lacing does go pretty far down the boot. This feature Merrell Moab vibram soleallows for better lacing to fit variations in feet.

The Vibram sole is a work of art. It is soft enough to allow for quiet movement on any hard surface. The tread is plenty good enough for grip on any surface that I tried. And the tread holds up really well. My four-year old pair shows little wear and tear.

The boots are very lightweight and don’t fatigue feet, body, or soul even when worn for long periods of time. When lacing the boots up all of the lacing is already in-place with the exception of the final tug. That tug utilizes a speed-lace hook making it easy to lace up your boots quickly. I have never experienced any real resistance putting the boots on or snugging them up while lacing.

Here are a couple downsides…

Merrell doesn’t accurately size these boots. I take a 11.5 or 12 wide, depending on how the shoe/boot is cut. I bought a 12 wide Moab and they were wide enough but not anywhere near a  size 12. I ended up buying a size 13 wide and it fits very decently. In reality, based on the way Merrell makes their boots I should wear a 12.5 wide. But like all almost all shoe makers they have bias against us folks with big feet and don’t make half-sizes after size 12.

So what happened to the size 12 that I bought when I needed a size 13?

I wore the size 12 wide for a day at the SDC training that I wrote about < read more – click here > and they killed my feet. A couple days later the “purple toenail” showed up, along with the associated discomfort. Fortunately for REI - Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI)me I bought my Moab’s at REI. I am an REI member. And one of the benefits to being an REI member is their 100% money-back guarantee. After ordering the 13 wide, I boxed up the pair of 12 wide and shipped them back to REI for a full refund. Yes, a full refund even after I had worn them all day at training and previously for about 10 hours total.

I don’t see the Moab as a heavy-duty hiking boot. The support just isn’t there. I look at the Moab line as a great tactical boot, a really good day hiker, and a terrific urban/suburban boot.

One thing for sure…but a new insole. The one that comes with the boot is marginal at best. There is little support in Superfeet Blue insolesthe insole that comes with the boots, and there is not sole protection of any kind. I bought Superfeet Blue insoles for the boots. That made a lot of difference.

Bottom line…Merrell Moab Mids are great boots! I rate them a solid “buy” in every way if you are looking for a great tactical boot, a really good day hiker, or a terrific urban/suburban boot.

I would suggest buying your new pair of Merrell Moab boots from REI and make sure you try a size larger than you normally wear. If you are an REI member you will get 10% spendable points and have the 100% money back guarantee to fall back on.

I wear REI or Minus33 wool socks with my Moab boots. Yes, even in the summer in the desert southwest. So when you are trying on your boots make sure you are wearing the right socks, the ones you will be wearing with the boots.

These are great boots! “Buy!”

Buy It !

Moab Ventilator

Moab Ventilator

Moab Waterproof Mid

Moab Waterproof Mid

Merino Wool Day Hiker SockExpedition Mountaineer Sock



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8 thoughts on “REVIEW : Merrell Moab Boots

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