Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator Boots Review

Comfortable, mid-height hiking boots best for warm weather and dry climates

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Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator

Verywell Fit / Justin Park

What We Like
  • Out-of-the-box comfort

  • Breathable

  • Durable Vibram sole

  • Affordable price

What We Don't Like
  • Limited water resistance

  • Heel may be high for some

Bottom Line

The Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator is comfortable and durable enough for casual warm- and dry-weather hiking as well as everyday footwear.

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Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator

Verywell Fit / Justin Park

Though it has recently expanded its offerings to include sandals, trail running shoes, and even clothing, Merrell is a 30-year-old company that started as a custom hiking boot brand. Merrell’s products (made for outdoorswomen and men alike) are now available in large sporting goods stores nationwide and are a common sight on hiking trails. I recently tested out the Moab 2 Mid Ventilator hiking boots for men in the spring in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains and foothills. Find out if these classic hikers lived up to their reputation as the “Mother of All Boots” (M.O.A.B.).

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator
 Verywell Fit / Justin Park

Performance: Comfortable and cool out of the water

The Moab 2s are a softer-feeling boot, but the sole sports Vibram durability and performance, and that’s where the rubber quite literally meets the road (or trail). The TC5+ compound isn’t Vibram’s most high-performance compound, but it gripped well on granite made slick in Colorado’s soggy spring thaw.

The relatively deep (5 millimeters) lugs held their own on muddy trail and gravel alike. I thought the sole was thin enough near the forefoot to allow for some flexibility and improve the grip and feel on the trail, especially when going through the rocky sections very common in Colorado. 

As a trail runner and long-distance backpacker, I found the relatively light weight of the shoes a nice surprise.

The thicker heel area includes a basketball shoe-style air pocket (not visible) that provides welcome cushion and impact absorption when hiking rocky areas or broken ground. It also helps angle the foot when going up steeper terrain, minimizing flex in the ankle as you ascend. That said, the bulk in the heel may be a bit much for hikers who are used to lower-profile trail running shoes but looking for more cushion and protection for their feet.

As a trail runner and long-distance backpacker, I found the relatively light weight of the shoes a nice surprise at around 1 pound each (depending on your shoe size, mine were 10.5 men’s). The nylon arch shaft provides some foot impact protection without being as stiff and clumsy as the full metal plates used in some hardcore boots and trail runners. 

Still, I found it a bit tricky to balance in the bulky heel when I picked up the pace to anything beyond walking. If you’re the type to break into a trot to cover some ground quickly, you might be happier with a burlier trail running shoe such as the popular Salomon Speedcross or X Ultra 3. If you like the brand and aesthetic but want something a bit more athletic, Merrell’s Chameleon model is positioned nicely in that sweet spot as well.

Where the Moab 2s shine—or fade, depending on your intended use—is their breathability. Despite having a somewhat bulky and padded upper, the rib-style vents running down the boot kept my feet from sweating as they often do in heavier-duty Gore-Tex boots. Note: Merrell makes a Gore-Tex version of this very boot (see Competition section below).

Where the Moab 2s shine—or fade, depending on your intended use—is their breathability.

The price you pay for this breathability is a lack of water-resistance. Spring in Colorado is more about melting snow than sprouting flowers. On my early-season hikes, the mud and wet snow were too much for the Moab 2s after a few encounters, and I often went home with slightly soggy socks.

However, on dry hikes in the foothills with temperatures in the 70s and high altitude sun beating down, the Moab 2’s porous upper was a welcome feature. If you’re looking for a three-season hiker, the Mid Vent is probably a bit wimpy for the shoulder seasons. If you’re more of a summer-only, fairweather hiker and camper, the Moab 2 is a great fit for its breathability and comfort.

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator
Verywell Fit / Justin Park

Fit: Sneaker-like comfort on a stiff sole

The Moabs stand out from first wear for their comfort without the usual, painful break-in period. The thick yet soft upper and tongue are padded substantially with closed-cell foam that puts a springy layer between you and rocks and stumps.

The boots are mid-height and came up just to the main ankle joint, mostly covering and protecting the “ball” of the ankle without restricting articulation of the joint. 

If you’re looking for a three-season hiker, the Moab 2 Vent is probably a bit wimpy for the shoulder seasons.

Most online reviewers describe the Moab 2 as “true to size” and that jived with my experience. While I normally wear a size 11 men’s in casual footwear, 10.5 is usually better for athletic footwear including hiking boots, and the Moab 2s were no exception. The 10.5 left me space to avoid slamming and jamming toes, while not being so spacious as to feel sloppy.

The fit on my average-width foot was spot-on, but it’s worth noting that Merrell makes wide versions of each size.

Materials: Protective suede and mesh upper, rubber sole

While the suede and mesh upper feels ultra-plush and minimizes any break-in period, the strips of suede backed by foam where it matters are substantial enough to cushion your foot against unexpected run-ins with rocks. The always susceptible toe area is buttressed with a rubber cap that wraps almost all the way around to protect you from big to little toe.

Between you and the Vibram rubber sole, Merrell uses a fairly standard EVA foam midsole layer for added cushioning. The brand swapped the Moab 1’s Ortholite pad for an M Select™ FIT.ECO+ blended EVA contoured footbed that adds to the shoe’s out-of-the-box comfort and feels substantial enough to endure several summers of hikes without needing replacement. I’m not entirely sure why the forefoot area of the footbed is perforated, but it is; I can only assume it’s intended to aid in breathability.

While we’ll have to wait to determine the long-term durability of the shoe, both Merrell and sole-maker Vibram have track records of quality and durability. 

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator
Verywell Fit / Justin Park 

Design/Style: No-frills

The Moab 2 was a 2017 update to the classic, original Moab hiking boot that came out more than a decade ago. The company changed remarkably little in the outward aesthetic of the shoe. Thus, if you’ve been on a trail in the past ten years, you’re familiar with the style of the Moab line. While not classic in the sense of an all-leather red-laced hiker from another century, this is arguably Merrell’s most iconic hiking boot due to its ubiquity and popularity. 

Calling the Moab 2s “cool” or “fresh” would be a stretch. The overall aesthetic is much more subdued than the techy, electric styles of many of today’s more synthetic, modern hikers and trail running shoes. The Moab 2s will pair naturally better with cargo shorts or quick-dry hiking pants than spandex tights.

Calling the Moab 2s ‘cool’ or ‘fresh’ would be a stretch.

Two of the three colorways are simple, classic earth tones, pairing tan and black with a blue accent in the Castle/Wing colorway. The most classic Merrell colors come through in the Walnut colorway, which features primarily tan and black with a muted safety orange accent. The Black Knight edition is likely an all-black, no-frills nod to customers that use these comfortable hikers away from the trails as work boots or everyday boots.

Price: Affordable for hikers

At $110 on the official Merrell site and comparable elsewhere, the Merrell Moab 2s are almost a budget option in the world of hiking boots. The lower price largely reflects the lack of a Gore-Tex membrane and the simpler build possible on a non-waterproof hiking boot. 

Merrell Moab Mid 2 Ventilator vs. Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof

If you like the fit and aesthetic of the Moab 2s, your biggest decision is between the two main versions of this boot: the Ventilator, reviewed here, and the Waterproof. As discussed in the Performance section above, the drawback of the Ventilator version of the Moab 2s is the lack of waterproofing. However, if you choose to go with the waterproof Gore-Tex version (about $40 more) of the boot, know that you’ll likely endure some sweaty feet in peak summer or if wearing the boots indoors. 

The Ventilator version is a better pick if you want a fairweather hiking boot that can double as a casual walker or even workboot. Go with the waterproof version if you think you’ll use it in a variety of conditions and seasons and don’t mind the added price and reduced breathability.

Final Verdict

Great for occasional or summer hiking.

If you’re an ultra-marathoner, you already know you’re too tech and serious for the Merrell Moab 2 Mid Ventilator boots, but if you’re an occasional hiker looking for a time-tested and comfortable summer boot, these are a perfect fit.

Specs

  • Product Name Moab 2 Mid Ventilator
  • Product Brand Merrell
  • MPN J06045
  • Price $110.00
  • Weight 1 lbs.
  • Color Castle/Wing, Black Knight, Walnut
  • Materials Suede, mesh, EVA, rubber
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