Gear

On Your Merrell Way: The Best Merrell Boots And Shoes

by Mac Misseldine

best merrell shoes boots
Photo: Jake Ingle

Merrell shoes aren’t always the flashiest footwear on the trail, but they’re a hell of a value for quality construction and rugged reliability.

Merrell got its start in the 1980s when Randy Merrell began handcrafting custom boots for a small group of outdoor enthusiasts. From the get-go, Merrell boots were renowned for their impeccable quality and innovative design, with Backpacker Magazine crowning them “the best boots ever made.”

Merrell adopted a no-compromise approach to bootmaking, giving traditional hiking boots a unique twist by combining American cowboy boot technology with the Italian boot manufacturing process. The result, according to industry experts, was “the most comfortable and functional boots in North America”

Almost 40 years later, Merrell continues to dominate in the outdoor footwear market. Comfort, durability, versatility, and functional design remain the guiding principles for everything Merrell manufactures. They’ve expanded to include more modern designs with cutting-edge footwear tech, though you’ll still find a few old-school classics in the current lineup.

Hit the backcountry and you’re bound to see a few pairs of Merrell hiking boots, trail running shoes, and sandals on the trail. Following is an overview of the company’s most popular footwear, starting with their bread and butter — the Moab 2. 

Hiking Footwear

Moab 2

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Vent

The Moab 2 is Merrell’s flagship line of outdoor footwear, aptly nicknamed the Mother Of All Boots™. Available in a staggering variety of designs and styles, it’s safe to say there’s an ideal pair Moab 2s for just about any type of outdoor activity.

The Moab 2 delivers out-of-the-box comfort with durable leathers, breathable lining, and a Merrell M Select™ FIT.ECO+ blended EVA contoured footbed with upgraded zonal arch and heel support. The air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and boosts overall stability, and there’s an EVA midsole for additional stability and comfort.

The Moab 2 excels in variable terrain thanks to an ultra-grippy Vibram® TC5+ outsole with 5mm lugs. There’s a protective rubber toe cap to protect against broken toes, and a closed-cell foam tongue to keep moisture and debris out.

The Moab 2 comes in regular and wide sizes, with low-rise shoes and mid-rise boots available for most models. You can upgrade to a waterproof version of each style for extra protection against light rain and puddles, and a select styles offer a GORE-TEX version for maximum waterproofing.

The Moab 2 Ventilator hiking shoes are the most popular, though the Moab 2 Waterproof Boots are a close second. There’s also the Moab FST 2 for well-groomed trails, Moab Edge 2 for maximum breathability, and Moab 2 Tactical for military and first responders.

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Ontario Hiking Boots

merrell ontario hiking boots

The Ontario Hiking Boots are a classic throwback to Merrell’s old school hiking boots. Clean and nostalgic with a full-grain leather upper, the boots feature sticky Vibram® Megragrip™ outsoles for maximum traction. Comfort and stability are guaranteed with a compression-molded EVA midsole, Merrell Air Cushion in the heel, and Merrell Kinetic Fit BASE removable contoured insole.

On the outside the Ontario Hiking Boots feature metal hooks and D-rings for secure lacing, and each set comes with an extra set of accent laces. The bellows tongue keeps debris from hitching a ride in your boot, and the M Select™ FRESH antimicrobial agents keep shoe odor under control. 

The standard Ontario Hiking Boots have a breathable mesh lining, but we prefer the waterproof version to keep puddles, creek crossings, and rain from spoiling your hike. You can also find the Ontario in low-cut hiking shoes.

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MQM Flex

merrell mqm flex

The MQM Flex is a crossover between stiff hiking boots and flexible trail running shoes. In the company’s own words, it’s built for Moving Quickly in the Mountains™.

The MQM Flex is a fast, protective hiking shoe with a mesh and TPU upper, breathable mesh lining, bellows tongue, and Hyperlock™ printed TPU film heel counter. The hybrid shoe features a removable EVA footbed, TrailProtect™ pad for off-road support, Merrell Air Cushion heel, FLEXconnect™ dual-directional flex-groove EVA midsole, and M Select™ GRIP outsole.

If you often hit the trail in the rain or find yourself frequently crossing creeks and streams, consider upgrading to the MQM Flex GORE-TEX for complete waterproof protection.

There’s also the MQM Ace for adventurous souls who venture off the beaten path, featuring sticky Vibram® Megagrip™ outsoles, a TrailProtect™ rock plate, and a Merrell Kinetic Fit™ BASE.

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Pulsate 2 Waterproof Leather Hiking Shoes

merrell pulsate 2

The Pulsate 2 Waterproof Leather Hiking Shoes look fantastic with a full-grain leather and mesh upper. They’re durable and protective with a soft, foam midsole and an Air Cushion in the heel for all-day comfort from sunrise to sunset.  

These shoes feature the latest and greatest Merrell tech, including an M Select™ DRY impermeable membrane that seals out water while letting moisture escape, M Select™ FRESH antimicrobial agents to fight shoe odor, and M Select™ GRIP outsoles with 5mm lugs for optimal traction. There’s a protective rubber toe cap to keep rocks from smashing your toes, and a removable Merrell Kinetic Fit™ BASE contoured insole for flexible support.

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Siren Edge Q2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes

merrell siren edge q2

The Siren Edge Q2 is specifically engineered for female hikers, with a Q FORM™ 2 insole and midsole that provide natural alignment and superior comfort for women. The Kinetic Fit™ TRI insole is contoured to match your foot, and includes triple zone arch support to provide light support.

The Siren Edge Q2 features M Select™ GRIP outsoles with 4.5mm lugs, a molded nylon arch shank, and M Select™ FRESH antimicrobial agents to reduce shoe odor.

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Trail Running Shoes

Trail Glove 4

merrell trail glove 4

The Trail Glove 4 isn’t as flashy as other trail runners, but that’s the point. Merrell is shooting for optimal performance in a minimalist package here, resulting in a ruggedly reliable shoe that’s more affordable than the average trail running shoes.

The Trail Glove 4 delivers a locked-down fit with a sock-like feel. A TrailProtect™ pad provides light cushioning, while the Vibram® TC5+ outsole offers traction and support to tackle rugged, variable terrain.

Merrell has since come out with a new version of the popular trail running shoes, though the Trail Glove 5 debuted to mixed reviews. Don’t knock it until you try it, but the wisdom of the crowds says that sticking with the Trail Glove 4 is the safer bet.

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Agility Synthesis Flex

merrell agility synthesis

The Agility Synthesis Flex is designed to boost your agility on moderate trails, flexing and protecting your feet to hit the sweet spot between comfort and stability.

The Agility Synthesis Flex features a FLEXconnect™ dual-directional flex-groove EVA midsole, removable EVA footbed, and TrailProtect™ pad for additional off-road support. Merrell employs their stickiest rubber outsole with skeleton-inspired lugs to deliver aggressive traction on changing terrain. For added security, there’s also a protective synthetic toe cap and Hyperlock™ TPU film heel counter.

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Momentous Trail Running Shoes

merrell momentous

The Momentous Trail Running Shoes are for trailblazers looking for a more connected, faster experience on moderate trails with obstacles and debris. The shoes feature a stylish knit and TPU upper that’s mighty breathable, and a burrito tongue that wraps around your foot to enhance the natural fit.

Comfort is king with the Momentous Trail Running Shoes thanks to forefoot and heel cushioning pods, a removable PU insole, and a responsive compression-molded EVA midsole that boosts energy return. Merrell also has an eye on protection with these shoes, employing a TrailProtect™ rock plate to protect your feet from underfoot debris, a Hyperlock™ TPU molded heel counter, and Vibram® MegaGrip™ outsoles with adaptive lugs.

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Bare Access XTR

merrell bare access xtr

Barefoot runners, this one’s for you. The Bare Access XTR features Merrell’s Barefoot construction with zero heel-to-toe offset. The shoes provide a moderate level of shock absorption and plenty of flexibility thanks to the FLEXconnect™ dual-directional flex-groove EVA midsole. On bottom, the shoes employ a sticky Vibram® TC5+ outsole that enhances ground connection and agility.

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Training Shoes

Vapor Glove 4

merrell vapor glove 4

The Vapor Glove 4 is a minimalist road-running shoe that aims to keep you grounded with as little as possible between your foot and the ground. The lightweight training shoes feature Merrell’s Barefoot 2 construction for enhanced proprioception and stability during variable movement, with an integrated insole for comfort and Vibram® TC5+ outsoles for optimal traction.

The Vapor Glove 4 is nice and breathable with a Cordura mesh and TPU upper. The M Select™ FRESH antimicrobial agents actively fight shoe odor, while the Hyperlock™ TPU film heel counter adds security.

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Water Shoes

Choprock Water Shoes

merrell choprock

Is there a hydro-hike in your weekend itinerary? Grab a pair of Choprock Water Shoes that can handle wet and dry terrain like a champ.

These aren’t your typical water shoes. They’re actually “shandals,” a hybrid that offers the best of shoes and sandals. The upper consists of water-friendly mesh and webbing, and the removable Kinetic Fit™ BASE contoured EVA insole has a water-friendly top cover. The shoe dries fast thanks to Hydramorph™ midsole channels and ports that evacuate water and optimize air ventilation.

The Choprocks grip well on slick terrain thanks to Vibram® Megagrip™ outsoles, and you’ll find they’re far more comfortable on hikes than sandals.

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Hydro Glove Water Shoes

merrell hydro glove

The Hydro Glove Water Shoes are specially designed to maximize traction on paddle boards, though you’re welcome to use it for any activity on the water. The water-friendly synthetic and mesh upper dries quickly, and the Vibram® Wavegrip™ delivers dependable grip whether you’re wet or dry.

The Hydro Glove Water Shoes feature Merrell’s signature Barefoot construction for a minimalist, well-grounded shoe. There’s also a neoprene collar and synthetic strap with a hook and loop fastener for extra security.

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Casual Footwear

Jungle Mocs

merrell jungle mocs

After a long day of outdoor adventures, kick off your boots and slip into comfort with the Jungle Mocs. It’s one of the most popular camp shoes on the market for a reason, featuring a Merrell M Select™ FIT.ECO blended EVA contoured footbed with organic odor control, compression-molded EVA foot frame for cushioning, and an air cushion to boost stability and absorb shock.

The Jungle Mocs are low-maintenance with a smooth suede upper and breathable mesh lining. For a premium finish, upgrade to nubuck or full-grain leather. The suede and nubuck shoes are both available in waterproof versions, and the full-grain leather is naturally water resistant.

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Men’s Moab Adventure Mocs

merrell moab adventure moc

Fans of the Jungle Mocs who want to wear their moccasins outside the campsite will love the Moab Adventure Mocs. These moccasins combine the lifestyle look of the Jungle Mocs with a hardy Vibram® outsole for solid traction in variable terrain. The nubuck leather looks pretty fresh, too.

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Gridway Sneakers

merrell gridway sneaker

The Gridway Sneakers are all about environmental sustainability. Almost everything in the sneaker is recycled, including the 100% recycled yarn knit upper, 100% recycled lace, 50% recycled removable EVA footbed, 30% recycled EVA midsole, and 30% recycled Vibram® EcoDura™ outsole.

The Gridway Sneakers are available as shoes and moccasins, both of which are airy and comfortable.

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Burnt Rock Traveler Suede

merrell burnt rock traveler suede

The Burnt Rock Traveler Suede is a casual shoe that’s equally at home in the city and the campground. The shoes feature a removable Kinetic Fit™ Base contoured insole for flexible support, an EVA midsole, and M Select™ GRIP outsoles that deliver traction on uneven terrain. There’s also a protective toe cap so you don’t break your toes while you’re playing kickball.

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Women’s Encore Q2 Breeze

merrell women's encore q2 breeze

The Encore Q2 Breeze is engineered to match the way women move, offering stability, support, alignment, and most importantly, cushy comfort. The Kinetic Fit™ Tri removable contoured insole offers light support to all three arches of your foot, while the Q FORM 2™ dual-density midsole with heel-centering technology keeps you centered.

The Encore Q2 Breeze features a breathable mesh upper that keeps your feet cool while you’re walking around. On the bottom, M Select™ GRIP outsoles provide durable traction and grip where you need it.

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Winter Footwear

ColdPack Ice+ Winter Shoes

merrell coldpack ice+ moc

The ColdPack Ice+ Winter Shoes are a comfortable alternative to traditional winter boots. The moccasin-style shoes feature Vibram® Arctic Grip™ outsoles for maximum traction in snow and ice, plus a waterproof M Select™ DRY membrane to keep melting snow from freezing your feet.

Like many of the other Merrell shoes on our list, the ColdPack Ice+ Winter Shoes come with a removable EVA footbed, EVA midsole, Merrell Air Cushion heel, and molded nylon arch shank. There’s a protective rubber rand and toe cap to prevent stubbed toes, and a Conductor fleece lining to keep your feet warm. The waterproof membrane is also treated with M Select™ FRESH to fight shoe odor.

Thanks to a full-grain leather upper, these winter shoes are easy to dress up or down to match your apparel.

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Thermo Chill Boots

merrell thermo chill boots

When winter weather strikes, slip on a toasty pair of Thermo Chill Boots for all-over defense against snow and ice. The boots have 200 grams of M Select™ WARM lightweight, low-bulk insulation to keep your feet warm and cozy.

The Thermo Chill Boots have a few tricks up their sleeve to keep moisture from creeping into your boots. The leather and mesh upper is coated with waterproof PU, and the M Select™ DRY impermeable membrane seals out water while allowing moisture from your feet to escape. As your feet are airing out, the M Select™ FRESH antimicrobial agents work overtime to keep shoe odor at bay.

The Thermo Chill Boots employ M Select™ GRIP outsoles with thick 5mm lugs for durable traction and grip, and the Kinetic Fit™ BASE insole is contoured to your foot’s natural shape to provide intuitive, flexible support.

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More Gear Recommendations

Check out our favorite American-made hiking boots, American-made heritage work boots, and Men’s Chukka boots for more recommendations on top-rated gear.

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