Merrell’s updated Moab 2 women’s hiking shoe offers a fantastic blend of out-of-the box comfort combined with enhanced stability and performance features. It’s “sticky” Vibram outsole and outsized 5 mm lugs offered the best traction of any of the shoes in this head-to-head test. A flexible sole and comfortable weight make the Moab 2 a solid choice for use in cross over sports, such as trail running and biking. Smaller sized protective features diminish the Moab 2’s performance on long rocky trails.
Support & Stability
With the Moab 2, Merrell has taken their iconic hiking shoe and enhanced it for increased stability and performance. Like the previous Moab, the 2 retains a wide outsole, spiked with unusually deep 5 millimeter wraparound lugs. These lugs are specifically designed to grab onto a wide variety of trail surfaces, while also whisking away loose dirt, mud or water. Our testers found the traction provided by the Moab’s lugs and “sticky” Vibram outsole to be the best of all of the shoes in this head-to-head test. The outsole’s rounded, grooved heel further enhanced braking during steep ascents. The Vibram outsole provided a nice level of flexibility, making the Merrell Moab 2 a good crossover shoe for trail running and bicycling use. With its more flexible outsole, our testers did note a small degree of trail sensitivity and foot fatigue when hiking long, rocky trails. Although cut lower than some of the other shoes in this test, the Moab’s thickly padded ankle shafts, and new heel-to-toe “speed band” feature provided above average ankle support and lateral stability. The shoe’s newly designed contoured foot bed, which incorporates a resin heel bed, did a great job of holding feet in place and limiting any forward or backward slide while hiking.
Quality & Construction
We found the high density premium waterproof suede used in Merrell’s Moab 2 women’s hiking shoe upper to be supple and comfortable, but also resilient to the demands of the trail. This material kept feet dry during wet hikes, while the shoe’s ample polyester mesh panels provided great breathability. The shoes cushy EVA midsole, and lushly padded ankle and toe shafts are well thought out and constructed. One tiny detail that we really like on the Merrell Moab 2’s is the open pull tab design. With its top and bottom attached in different places on the heel, the tab remained open for an easy grab. The lacing system, which runs through a number of ribbon holds, retained a customized fit where needed, even on long hikes. The Moab’s uppers, outsoles and midsoles all held up well to use across a full range of trail surfaces and conditions, with very little wear and tear noted.
With some of the thickest ankle and tongue padding of the women’s hiking shoes in this particular head-to-head test, the Moab 2’s provided a very comfortable fit. The flexible uppers hugged the ankles and instep snugly, while a wide toe box provided ample space for the balls of the feet. One of our testers found the Moab 2’s sizing to be perfect, while another found the fit a little small—recommending trying them a half size larger. These shoes were comfortable right out of the box, requiring zero break in. Generous breathable polyester mesh panels kept sweat from collecting during hot hikes. And a gusseted tongue kept trail debris and moisture out. Small features, such as the Moab 2’s smartly designed heel tab (sewn to stay always open and easy to grab) and textured, stay-tied laces, made it a breeze to get these women’s hiking shoes on and set to hit the trails. As noted earlier, one downside of the Moab 2’s highly flexible Vibram outsole, was a small degree of trail sensitivity and foot fatigue on long rocky hikes.
The Merrell Moab 2 women’s hiking shoe’s double reinforced leather toe rands, and small rubber toe and heel guards provided a good degree of protection against impacts with rocks and other hard objects while out hiking the trails. The shoe’s molded foot bed kept feet firmly in place—minimizing any slipping and bruising during steep ascents and descents. And the Moab 2’s updated high density premium waterproof suede did a great job of keeping feet dry in wet trail conditions. Although the soles of the feet remained comfortably protected on most hikes, some trail sensitivity and soreness was noted during long rocky hikes.
At 12.6 ounces per shoe, the Merrell Moab 2 women’s hiking shoes fell right in the middle weight range of the shoes contained in this head-to-head test. This was a pleasant surprise, considering the quantity of well-designed performance features of the shoe, including its ample padding, tall lugs, thick Vibram outsole and molded midsole and foot bed. Combined with the shoe’s flexible construction, this mid-weight makes the Moab 2’s a viable crossover shoe great for use hiking, biking and/or trail running.
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HOW WE TESTED
To accurately assess the performance of a women’s hiking shoe, a number of testers put each product through rigorous hiking, on over 20 miles of varied terrain. During these hikes the testers pay close attention to the level of product performance across six factors most affecting a hiker’s foot comfort and risk of foot or ankle injury on the trail.