Hiking boots are both a blessing and a curse. They offer ankle support, waterproof construction (of varying degrees), and durability. But they are also heavy and often require a hefty break-in period. I favored hiking in trail running shoes for years because I didn’t want to deal with sore and blistered feet while breaking-in a pair of boots. I’ve begun to change my tune in the past couple of years. Comfortable and supportive boots with minimal break-in periods like the Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots ($150) are a big reason why.
|Lightweight and breathable
|Run a little small
|Made with recycled materials
|Not as durable as some other boots
First Impressions of the Merrell Moab 3
At $150, the Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots are priced with your wallet in mind — we gave them our “Most Affordable” award in our Best Hiking Boots for Women Gear Guide. I opted for the mid-height version because I like boots with a little extra support, but I don’t like them to be too cumbersome. I also opted for the waterproof version. The Moab 3 also comes in a non-waterproof iteration ($130), a men’s full-height, fully-leather version ($165), and a hiking shoe version ($140).
When the Moab 3 boots arrived in the mail, I was skeptical. They didn’t look like waterproof and felt very lightweight. When I tried them on, they felt comfortable, cozy, and light. I was nervous about blisters, but was eager to hit the trail and test them out.
Something to note: This isn’t a comprehensive review of the Merrel Moab 3s, but rather a “first blush” recording of my experiences with them. I will update this review as I log more miles with these hiking boots.CHECK PRICE ON REI
Merrell Moab 3 Notable Features
Trail Rating: Rugged
Footwear Height: Over-the ankle
Weight: 1 lb 13 oz
Drop: 11.5 mm
Lug: 5 mm
Upper: Pigskin leather/mesh
Lining: Recycled mesh
Outsole: Vibram TC5+ rubber
For someone who is afraid of blisters and discomfort, I was pretty bold when taking these boots on their first test run. I opted for an eight-mile hike that included multiple stream crossings, traversing a series of waterfalls, 2,000 feet of elevation gain, and lots of mud and climbing. To be safe, I threw my lightest pair of trail runners in my pack just in case the Moab 3 hiking boots weren’t as comfortable as they first appeared.
Roughly five minutes into the hike, I had an opportunity to check the waterproofing.
Instead of trying to pick my way across a stream on rocks, I plowed straight in. I stood in a creek for a while, giving the water ample opportunity to seep through the boots. It did not! The waterproof membranes did indeed keep the water out but allowed moisture to escape while I was hiking.
The Moab 3 hiking boots are made from pigskin leather and mesh uppers. Fully leather boots tend to be stiff and take some time to break in, but the combination of leather and mesh proved the perfect hybrid for comfort and function. To be honest, I wasn’t even aware these boots were constructed from leather until I read the details because the material feels so flexible.
Merrel Moab 3 Updates
Merrell has done a lot with these boots to ensure they’re reliably stable and grippy: They feature extra cushioning in the heels, molded nylon arch shanks, and Vibram TC5+ outsoles. As I mentioned before, the hike I tested these boots on had a little bit of everything, and the Moab 3 boots didn’t disappoint. The outsoles proved worthy on dry, muddy, and wet terrain. The entire time I hiked in them, my feet and ankles felt stable and supported.
Merrell is on its third iteration of the Moab, hence the name Moab 3. Some of the brand’s changes include constructing the Moabs from partially recycled fabrics and utilizing more supportive insoles, cushioned midsoles, and grippier Vibram outsoles. Though I haven’t tested prior versions, these were definitely strong points I noticed in testing of the Moab 3.
Merrell Moab 3 Drawbacks
Although these boots are well made, they aren’t as durable as, say, a fully leather boot. All those mesh panels, so necessary for waterproof breathability, are more prone to abrasive damage. If you treat them well, they’ll be sure to last you many years, but unlike a full leather boot, they likely won’t be the last boot you ever buy in your life. That said, at $150, they’re a bargain.
I typically wear a size 8 in women’s shoes and boots, but an 8.5 fits me perfectly. You may want to order a half size up for that perfect fit. But be sure to try on the boots before hitting the trail should you need to swap them for a different size.
Final Thoughts on the Merrell Moab 3
The Merrell Moab 3 Waterproof Hiking Boots are a solid pair of boots. They’re reliably waterproof, have excellent traction, provide generous support, are comfortable, and require zero-to-no break-in time. At a price that won’t break the bank, these hiking boots are a winner — at least in my experience with them so far.CHECK Waterproof Boot PRICE ON REI CHECK Non-Waterproof Boot PRICE ON REI CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Editor’s Note: If you’re on the hunt for hiking boots, don’t miss our Gear Guides for Best Hiking Boots for Women or Best Hiking Boots. You’ll need socks as well. Do your research with our Best Hiking Socks Gear Guide. If you’re looking to hike in something a little more minimal, you can explore the ever-expanding world of Hiking Sandals. And after all that hiking, relax with a pair of Camping Slippers. For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.