The Merrell Moab 3 is a versatile walking shoe offering out-the-box comfort and excellent support. They’re quite chunky, which some people might not like for everyday wear, but the durable Vibram outsole and hardy pig suede upper are sure to stand up to the rigors of harder hikes.
Robust and supportive
Chunky sole and walking shoe aesthetic may not be to everyone’s taste for everyday wear
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The Merrell Moab 3 has one of the most instantly recognisable names in the walking shoe world, and for good reason. The brand’s Moab series has been helping hikers conquer the miles for more than 15 years, so we were excited to get our hands (or should that be feet) on the latest iteration.
Merrell prides itself on the shoes’ out-the-box comfort. To test these claims, we took them straight out for a six mile trek across the testing terrain of a nearby nature reserve – and we were left thoroughly impressed. Within minutes, they had solidified a spot on our list of the best shoes for walking, taking steep gradients and slippery surfaces in their stride.
Rather than taking sides in the walking shoes vs running shoes debate, the Merrell Moab 3s offer the best of both worlds. Like a classic walking boot, they offer enough support for longer walks, but the low heel and accommodating upper mean that they’re easy to put on and supremely comfortable from the off.
They fit true to size, the thick grooves of the sturdy Vibram outsole provide excellent grip on all surfaces, and at £90 or $110USD they’re fairly wallet-friendly too.
So, if you’re a fan of adventurous walks looking for 4x4s for your feet – but don’t want to spend an age lacing up a pair of bulky boots – look no further.
Design and technology
The Merrell Moab 3s have an upper made from pig suede leather and breathable mesh, giving them a traditional walking shoe aesthetic. They can be bought in black, olive or pecan (pictured) in the UK, with the additional options of granite, moss, walnut and walnut/moss colourways available in the US.
Their traditional design is likely to split opinion. Those who are used to slimmer sneakers may find them too chunky for everyday wear, however hiking boot fans will appreciate they are slimmer than your average walking shoe. Overall, we liked the look and found it fitted in well with our walking ensemble.
The Moab 3s feature a Vibram TC5+ outsole, Merrell Air Cushion technology in the heel and removable Kinetic Fit Advanced insoles with a reinforced heel. Combined, these provided a sturdy yet supportive platform for our feet, and we could really feel the spring of the additional cushioning with each step.
Thick grooves of the heel are prone to picking up mud, so they might not be well-suited to a trip to the shops. However, we found this wide base made the Moab 3s great for balance and stability when traversing tricky terrain. They are also easy to clean with a firm brush and warm water.
A nylon arch shank within the outsole ensures the shoes remain rigid and stable, but there is more give at the flex point of the shoe (underneath the ball of your foot) than most walking boots, allowing your feet to bend naturally when taking on gradients.
A toe cap protected us from stubbed toes, and a bellows tongue (wider and stitched into either side of the shoe) stopped pesky debris like loose stones from entering our shoes and causing discomfort.
Fit, feel and comfort
The shoes’ impressive comfort credentials were apparent from the moment we slipped them on, with the pig suede leather and breathable mesh upper striking a fine balance between pliability and rigidity.
The initial fit felt almost sneaker-like, with the flexible materials immediately molding to our feet. So, there’s no need to waste any time breaking them in before you hit the trails. However, the upper still provides the midfoot support you would expect from the best walking shoes, making us confident we could take on longer treks without having to endure aching feet after a couple of kilometers.
They fit true to size and are suitable for wearers with narrow to average width feet. I normally wear a size ten and have relatively narrow feet, and a size ten pair of the Merrell Moab 3s provided an ideal fit; my heel locked firmly into place, preventing blisters from forming, and there was enough room around the toes so they didn’t hit the end of the shoe when walking downhill. After making sure they were laced correctly, I also found the shoes wrapped around the sides of my feet effectively without ever feeling constricting.
At 2lb 1oz, they’re lighter than traditional hiking boots but heavier than many modern walking shoes, and the chunky sole may take some adjusting to if you’re used to shoes with a slimmer profile like the On Cloud. But we found this robust design was well-suited to longer distances or more heavy-duty treks.
The extra cushioning in the sole (particularly underneath the heel) puts a spring in your step, counteracting the extra weight, and the wide outsole makes for a stable base when walking over slippery surfaces. The sole also has large grooves which provide great grip on all terrains we tested them on, from dewy grass to muddy declines.
When it comes to support, the Moab 3s are the best walking shoes we tested. Maybe it’s a result of Merrell’s 41-year history in manufacturing hiking boots, but the shoes were unrivaled when it came to providing comfort and protection, particularly over longer distances.
The thick outsole and reinforced heel of the insole combine to provide a cushioned yet responsive feel. Add the padded heel and tongue into the mix and our feet felt cradled and comfortable, whether we were on kilometer one or 10. So, if you’re planning a walking holiday or staycation where you’re likely to be on your feet for large portions of the day, these are a great option.
The material of the upper is malleable enough that it doesn’t need to be broken in and we never felt like our feet were being forced into position. But, it was still firm enough to provide a good amount of midfoot support, keeping our feet from aching when we found ourselves on our feet for prolonged periods.
On the Merrell website, the Moab 3 boasts a host of five-star reviews with buyers sharing their positive experiences with the footwear.
Most people agreed the shoes fit true to size and provide an incredibly comfortable walking experience across a wide variety of distances and terrains, without the need to break them in.
Most say they wear their Merrell Moab 3s for walking, but others hail the versatile shoe for being suitable for active jobs and everyday wear.
The only negative reviews mention that the shoes are not waterproof, with one saying they found their feet quickly became wet when walking through long, dewy grass. An alternative version of the Moab 3s with a Gore-Tex membrane, offering both waterproofing and breathability, is available for the higher price of £120 or $155USD.
The brilliantly comfortable Moab 3s are an impressive addition to the Merrell family, balancing the benefits of hiking boots and sneakers to provide a versatile walking shoe. They have the sturdiness and support of a hiking boot without needing a lengthy break-in period. Yet, thanks to their sneaker-like low ankle and premium materials, they take no time at all to put on and provide comfort from the first wear.
They have quite a chunky fit and, at 920g, are on the heavier side for a walking shoe. But this has plenty of advantages, giving them a robust feel and making them well-suited to explorers or active wearers with a high daily step count.
On Cloud X
After an all-round performer? The On Cloud X is one of the best cross-training shoes you can find, meaning it's great for walking, running and all other manner of exercise. Through the brand’s signature CloudTec technology (a series of rubber formations in the sole designed to provide multi-directional cushioning) they offer a comfortable walking and workout experience to keep your feet feeling fresh and pain-free.
Allbirds Tree Runner
For hot weather environments, the Allbirds tree runners are an excellent choice. Breathable and made from environmentally-friendly materials, this shoe is great to slip on if you're doing some traveling. While it might not have the same level of cushioning as some of the other models in our walking shoe guide, it does have a more flexible sole that allows you to 'bend' the shoe around uneven terrain.
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Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.
Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.
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