Merrell Moab FST Waterproof ReviewJanuary 12, 2018
- Comfortable out of the box
- Offered in wide version
- Lightweight & breathable
- Solid grip
- Mesh lining prone to fray or rip
- Minimal protection
- Cheap Construction
For having one of the thinner outsoles in the test group, the Moab FST made up for it with a wide option for fit and superior traction (hence the FST). It was obvious that the shoe excelled in those two qualities. The Vibram MegaGrip technology performed noticeably better than other shoes in its class with a regular Vibram sole when scrambling or crossing slick rocks in streams. The shock absorption in the heel added stability while providing additional comfort and decreasing sore feet and ankles on longer days.
The protection on the Moab FST was below average. There is a soft toe guard that wears down after minimal use and not much protection anywhere else around the foot. The outer material is mostly a mesh lining, with some TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) throughout, which is a hybrid hard plastic and soft silicone. The design idea being it’s tough and soft where it needs to be. The mesh is exposed and prone to fraying and ripping and cannot withstand too much abuse on the trail, such as snagging on jagged boulders and getting scraped up while traveling through scree or loose dirt areas. But again, this shoe is marketed for its fit and traction, and it’s on the lighter side, so sacrifices were obviously made to achieve this. Lastly, from a waterproof standpoint, the proprietary M Select DRY works okay if only one or two shallow streams were crossed, but if the trail was muddy for a prolonged period with numerous stream crossings, moisture would eventually creep in.
Of the five shoes included in this test, this was the only 10 rating given as there is no room for improvement in this category. Merrell consistently advertises their shoes as an “out of the box fit” and these are no exception. The majority of the design is dedicated to comfort, which the shoe delivered throughout testing. The Merrell M Select contoured footbed was, by far, the best factory insole offered in the group and negated the need for a custom molded footbed. The shock absorption in the heel area functioned very well and made long days, such as the 26-mile Barr Trail on Pikes Peak, much less painful. This wouldn’t be the right shoe for prolonged off-trail bushwacking, but by far the most comfortable for long days all on a defined trail.
The overall construction of this shoe is average and falls short in a few key areas. As stated before, the fit is unrivaled. Along with the high performing traction and waterproof liner, this is, for the most part, a well made product. But even after our relatively short testing period there were obvious signs of wear shown around the exterior. The mesh lining simply cannot hold up from a long term standpoint. Even when hiking on trail, the constant snagging and scraping against boulders and ruts took its toll on the soft outer lining of the shoe and the toe guard has already begun to peel. The stitching also began to come apart after one summer of moderate usage, which is a bad sign for the overall craftsmanship of the Moab FST. The sub-par protection is also a contributor to this and can make for a painful experience during regular off-trail excursions.
Despite the average construction and protection of the Moab FST, this is a sleek, athletic, lightweight, versatile, and extremely comfortable hiking shoe. When used on trail, the comfort of the shoe (and width for wider feet) make long, marathon-type days much easier. The above average stability of the Moab FST makes them a solid backpacking choice as well, as the shock absorption helps with heavier loads on the approach. On days involving high alpine scrambling that doesn’t involve rough, prolonged bushwacking to get to, the Vibram MegaGrip provides a perfect mix of traction and durability that had the characteristics of a sticky approach shoe, providing confidence on exposed ridge runs.Continue Reading
Brian Miller- Hiking
Brian is an avid hiker, ski mountaineering guidebook author and former Division 1 lacrosse player. He lives with his wife in North Denver.