Fast hiking is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s the middle ground between walking and running; where hikers seek to cover ground a little faster, basically in order to be able to take in more in a shorter amount of time. Such an approach can let you fit in a hilltop before lunch or after work, all-the while not forcing you to strain yourself in the same way that you would when running and letting you carry more on your back too – a camera for instance, or some sandwiches for that summit stop.
Over the last few years, the growth of this style of hiking has brought with it the development of purpose-built footwear, essentially hybrids between a walking boot and a running shoe. For fast hiking, you want something that’s light but still supportive and sturdy, you want something that’s grippy but not too overbearing and you want something that’s waterproof but also breathable too. Case in point: the Merrell MQM 3 Gore-tex.
Autumn/Winter 2022 sees the release of the third iteration of this shoe which has now become a hugely popular model for the U.S. brand. New changes include a refined, more locked-in fit and a sole that was developed as part of an exclusive collaboration between Merrell and Vibram.
The upper is thin but made from durable materials and there’s padding where you need it, including on the tongue and around the heel. TPU overlays give a bit of added protection to the walls of the shoe, particularly around the toe. The Gore-tex membrane extends throughout the upper and links with the tongue via gussets, so there’s all-round waterproof protection.
The sole unit contains a nylon shank under the arch of the foot and a rock plate, so there’s plenty of protection from sharp rocks and roots. Merrell’s proprietary foam brings cushioning and shock absorption to proceedings too, but not so much that it causes a loss of that ‘feel’ for the trail underfoot either.