Merrell Moab Speed GTX Hiking Shoe | First Look - Outdoors Magic

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Merrell Moab Speed GTX Hiking Shoe | First Look

They're calling it a "modern reincarnation" of one of their classic footwear offerings. Here's how we got on with it.

For a decade Merrell’s Moab range has been the boot of choice for 20 million walkers – that’s a hell of a lot of units shifted, equivalent to every third person in the UK wearing a pair. We reckon that qualifies as insanely popular. And now the US firm are aiming to build on this best-selling heritage with the release of the Merrell Moab Speed GTX shoe, a lightweight hybrid hiker designed to give you ‘confidence to tackle any trail’.

Merrell bill the Moab Speed GTX as a modern reincarnation of their popular boot – a lighter, lower-cut, trainer-style version that will appeal to those who prefer to feel a little more agile on the trail. There’s also a mid-boot version, but here we’re focusing on the low hikers.

First things first, the Moab Speed is designed to give wearers out-of-the box comfort with a fit that’s snug in the heel, precise over the instep and roomy in the toe to ensure any issues like rubbing or tightness are reduced. The mesh and TPU upper, meanwhile, are designed to strike a balance between lightness and abrasion resistance – Merrell call it ‘athletic’ yet ‘rugged’.

In terms of the tech in the shoe construction, a FloatPro Foam midsole and supportive EVA insole provide a lightweight and cushioned ride. A ‘rockplate’ in the midsole traverses the shoe to increase comfort levels and dampen the impact of any sharp rocks or nobbly stones beneath your feet. You also get a Gore-Tex membrane, ensuring the high standard of breathability and waterproofing you’d expect for this near-ubiquitous membrane. There’s also a Vibram Ecodura rubber outsole for reliable traction over mixed terrain.

Merrell have also made efforts to improve the environmental credentials of the Moab Speed. It uses a 100% recycled mesh lining, 50% recycled top sheet to the EVA foam insole, 100% recycled laces and 30% recycled rubber in the Vibram Ecodura outsole. It’s far from the finished article, but it’s good to see the US brand making strides in the right direction.

Costing £125 for the Gore-Tex model and £105 for a non-waterproof option, these hikers are affordably-priced for mass market appeal. They are available in both men’s and women’s versions, with a wide range of bold colourways. A mid version is also available, priced at £135. The Moab Speed range is available to purchase now on Merrell’s website, and will be released via the retailer Blacks from March 22.

Tester’s Verdict: James Forrest

I got my hands (or should I say feet) on a pre-release pair of the Moab Speed GTX hikers this February and took them on several outings in my local fells. I live in north-west Cumbria and was able to climb 9 Wainwrights around Loweswater, Crummockwater and Buttermere in them, with a mix of walking, running and fast-hiking (or slow running?).

Initially I was a little sceptical about the ‘hybrid’ style. I tend to use specialist trail running trainers for runs and separate walking shoes for hiking – but I was pleasantly surprised with the Moab Speed’s versatility and performance. I’d definitely class them as my favourite Merrells I’ve tested to date – I preferred them to the MQM Flex 2.0, Zion GTX and Nova GTX.

As expected, comfort was excellent straight from the off – I couldn’t fault it – and the padded collar and tongue made for a snug and cosy fit. The Gore-Tex liner did its job admirably, keeping my feet dry as I encountered squelchy, boggy ground on Gavel Fell, near Loweswater, and I found the all-round cushioning and rebound pretty good. For hiking I liked the protective toe cap, bit of rigidity in the heel counter and overall lateral stiffness – it gave me added confidence over rocky, rough ground – and I was definitely impressed with the design of the upper. There’s a protective film over the mesh, which provides an added layer of protection from scuffs and tears. One of the big flaws of lightweight trainers is that it’s all too easy to rip a hole in their ultralight uppers – but hopefully Merrell’s approach will help avoid this pitfall over long-term use.

For running, the outsole’s lugs (5mm-ish according to my ruler) weren’t the deepest or grippiest I’ve ever seen, but for a few steep Lake District hillwalks I found the traction more than adequate. Similarly the weight (315g per shoe, men’s size 8) didn’t feel amazingly lightweight. But, having said that, I did genuinely like the Moab Speeds as trail running shoes. I still felt athletic and nimble in them, and I definitely flew down some trails with them on my feet. Fun times.

If I had to choose, I’d say they are better for general mountain hiking than trail running – but they do work well as a hybrid and perform fine in both disciplines. And if your budget only stretches to one pair, rather than separate hikers and runners, the Merrell Moab Speed is a solid choice.

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