Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Review

The Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof has to be one of the most popular hiking boots out there – and with good reason too. Their looks may be a bit dated, but these boots still stack up well.

Merrell Women's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, Altitude, 5

Good news: These boots also come in a men’s version.

Pros / Reasons to Buy

  • Excellent comfort
  • Excellent durability

Cons / Reasons to Avoid

  • Slightly confusing product range
  • The design is starting to look a little dated

Merrell’s Moab has an almost fanatical following and it’s not unusual to meet hikers who only wear Moabs and nothing else. There are numerous Moab variants offered such as the Merrell Moab Speed Low and the Merrell Moab 3 – but we think the mid-high waterproof boot variant we are assessing here will likely represent the best all-round option for many hikers.

Merrell claim to have sold over 25 million of the various Moab versions, so they are clearly doing something right! Whilst these boots are not the absolute lightest and their design might be a bit tired to some people’s eyes, the fact is that these are exceptionally comfortable boots that offer fantastic durability and, whilst not the absolute cheapest, won’t break the bank either.

Editor’s note: This article is part of our guide to the best hiking boots, be sure to check out the rest of this guide for our top buying tips:

Compare to Similar Products: 

Danner Mountain 600 Leaf GTX
Merrell Moab 3 Mid Waterproof
Salomon Quest 4 Gore Tex
Columbia Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped
Zamberlan 996 Vioz GTX 
Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex
Lowa Renegade GTX Mid
La Sportiva Nucleo High II GTX
Hoka Kaha 2 GTX
Vasque Breeze Waterproof Hiking Boots
Danner Mountain 600 Hiking Boots for Women - Waterproof, Durable Suede Upper, Breathable Lining, Triple-Density Footbed & Vibram Traction Outsole, Chocolate Chip/Golden Oak - 5 M
Merrell Women's Moab 3 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot, Altitude, 5
Salomon Quest 4 Gore-TEX Hiking Boots for Women, Slate/Trooper/Opal Blue, 8
Columbia Women's Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped, Elk/Mountain Red, 9
Zamberlan Women's 996 Vioz GT Hiking Boot,Dark Brown,37 M EU/6 M US
Salomon X Ultra 4 MID Gore-TEX Hiking Boots for Women, Ebony/Mocha Mousse/Almond Cream, 5
Lowa Women's Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot,Stone,10 W US
La Sportiva Womens Nucleo High II GTX Hiking Boots, Oak/Topaz, 7
HOKA ONE ONE Womens Kaha 2 GTX Nubuck Black Black Trainers 5.5 US
Vasque Women’s Breeze Hiking Boot, Cappuccino, 6 Medium
Buying Options
Our Ratings
Best Overall Women's
Most Comfortable
Best for Mountain Walking
Best Budget
Best Waterproof
Best for Summer/Hot Weather
Best Leather
Best for Day Hikes
Pros
Extremely comfortable. Wears in quickly. Excellent fit for wider feet
Excellent comfort. Excellent durability
Sturdy and ready to take on anything. Good toe placement and great ankle positioning
Very comfortable, pretty much straight out the box. Great price point
Excellent build quality. Can be resoled
Low weight. Good build quality
Available in three widths and a variety of sizes. Extremely comfortable
Cutting edge materials, good breathability to waterproofing ratio
Extremely supportive and comfortable. Stylish.
Excellent durability. Rigid build
Cons
Not great for narrower feet. Sizing for buyers outside the United States can be limited
Slightly confusing product range. The design looks dated.
Break in takes a little while. Rigid.
Isn't as breathable. Could do with a more robust sole
Expensive. The design may be too utilitarian for some
Ankle cuff not as supportive as some others. Wider toe box may not suit those with very narrow feet. New
Expensive. Isn't visually that striking
Expensive for what they are. We don't find them suitable for longer treks
Expensive. Leather feels cold after walking through significant water.
Dated design. Stiff upper may not be to everybody's taste.
Traction
Excellent
Very good
Medium/deep thread pattern
Good - but not as good on technical terrain
Excellent
Excellent
Vibram outsole - excellent
Excellent
Excellent - uses Vibram Megagrip
Very good
Breathability
Good
Very good
Gore-Tex upper and well insulated
OK
Low
Good
Good
Excellent
OK
Very good
Ankle Support
Good
Very good
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Good
Excellent
Excellent
Arch support
Regular to good
Good
Average
OK
Average
Good
Average
Regular
Average
Average
Fit
Fits a little large, size down a half size if in-between, available in a single width
Fits true to size. comes in standard and wide widths
Suits normal to wider feet
Standard fit, runs small - best to go up a half size
Standard fit - runs small
Fits true to size. Comes in standard and wide widths
Comes in standard, narrow and wide fit options and wide range of sizes
Runs narrow
Standard fit
Runs a little small. Available in standard and wide fit
Materials
Grain leather upper, metal lacing hardware and synthetic/rubber soles
Synthetic and pig suede upper.
Leather and synthetic
Upper leather and suede and synthetic
Mostly leather with synthetic lining and rubber sole
Fully synthetic
Leather and synthetic
Leather and synthetic
Leather and synthetic
Nubuck leather and synthetics
Appearance
Modern hiking boot
Slightly dated design
Modern
Modern hiking boot with traditional feel
Traditional hiking boot
Modern hiking boot
Modern hiking boot
Modern hiking boot
Modern hiking boot/trail hybrid
Slightly dated design
Durability
Excellent
Very good
Excellent
Sole feels quite lightweight
Excellent
Excellent
Good
Average
Good
Excellent
Water Resistance
Gore-Tex membrane
In-house waterproof, breathable membrane
Gore-Tex membrane
Waterproof (Omni-Tech)
Gore Tex lining and water resistant coating
Gore Tex membrane
Gore-Tex membrane
Gore-Tex Surround membrane
Gore-Tex lining
In-house waterproof, breathable membrane
Weight (pair)
900g/2lb per pair
800g/1lb 12oz
1070g/2lb 6oz
791g/1.8lbs per pair
1.28kg/2lb 13oz
740g/1lb 10oz
950g/2lb
900g/2 lb. 1 oz
1015g/2.5 lbs
990g/2lb 2oz
Insoles
Standard insole
Padded insole
Padded insole
Standard insole
Padded insole
Padded. shaped insole
Standard insole
Standard insole
Standard insole
Padded insole
Break-in Period
Minimal
Minimal
Some break in needed
Very minimal
Some break-in required
Minimal
Minimal
Slightly longer than average
Minimal
Medium
Lacing system
Regular laces with metal lacing hardwear for durability
Standard laces
Standard laces
Standard/regular laces
Standard/regular laces
Standard laces
Standard lacing system
Standard/regular laces
Standard - eyelet with grip lacing around the ankle
Standard laces
Toe Protection
Rubberized toe rand
Rubber rand around toe and small toe cap
Rubberized toe rand
Rubberized toe rand
Substantially reinforced toe offers excellent protection
Rubber rand on toe and small toe cap.
Substantial rubber toe rand
Rubberized toe rand
Rubberized toe rand with reinforced stitching
Rubber rand around toe and small toe cap

Analysis and Test Results

Merrell’s Moab shoes and boots are immensely popular and it’s not difficult to see why. These boots are very well regarded for their out of the box comfort and durability. Now in their third generation, the Moab design has evolved over time and still represents an excellent choice for beginner hikers who don’t want to break the bank and seasoned explorers alike.

These are general purpose boots suited to hiking, backpacking and nature walking over less technically demanding trails. If you hike in very extreme weather or on more technical trails, then more specialized footwear will likely be more appropriate for you. However, these boots make for excellent all-rounders and many hikers will tell you they are the only boots they wear.

Performance Comparison

merrell moab 3 main shot

Traction

The Merrell Moab 3 features a Vibram sole with a medium-deep thread pattern. Whilst some of the other boots we’ve assessed offer better absolute traction, the Moab’s still do very well indeed on a variety of terrain. Whilst the grip these boots offer is very good, bear in mind that some surfaces – like muddy hillsides, slick, wet rocks and, of course, ice will overwhelm the traction on even the grippiest of soles if not used without additional traction aids.

merrell moab 3 traction

Breathability

Large sections of the Moab 3’s upper are made from mesh material and this certainly helps with breathability. In warmer weather in more temperate conditions, we had no problems with our feet overheating. These boots feature a waterproof membrane which does impact their breathability.

Merrell also offer a version of these boots without the membrane which are considerably more breathable. This non-waterproof version would likely make more sense if you only hike in warm and exceptionally dry conditions – in a desert, for instance. However, if you hike anywhere you might encounter rain or wet conditions, then we think the waterproof version is the way to go and will be the better choice for most.

Ankle Support

As a mid-high boots, it should come as no surprise that this version of the Moab 3 offers better ankle support than the shoe version. The ankle cuff is not as high as on some other boots we’ve assessed, but it’s still well-padded ang gives good support. The snugness of the ankle cuff can be adjusted via the laces.

Arch Support

In common with the rest of the Moab family, these boots feature a molded nylon arch shank which gently supports the wearer’s arch. Whilst this is more than many other manufacturers offer, this should still be considered a neutral arch support solution. If you require extra arch support tin your boots – and for some, this makes a massive difference to their hiking comfort – then the supplied insoles can easily be swapped out for something more heavily shaped.

See the Merrell Moab Mid Waterproof in more detail: 

Fit

A big part of the Moab’s reputation is built on their comfort and in this regard, they do not disappoint. They fit and feel more like trainers than hiking boots. They are offered in a very wide range of sizes ranging from Us 5/UK 2.5/EU 35 all the way up to US 12/ UK 9.5/EU 43. These shoes fit true to size and are offered in both standard and wide widths.

Materials

The Moab 3 Mid features a suede leather and synthetic upper section. The leather is sourced from pigs, which may be an issue for people of some faiths. These materials are all durable and contribute towards the Moab’s excellent reputation for durability.

merrell moab 3 materials

Appearance

The Moab 3 is certainly not a traditional hiking boot, but the industry moves quickly and whilst the Moab’s design was once cutting edge, we can’t help but think that it now looks a little dated next to some rivals. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and many hikers like the understated looks and earthy colorways these boots are offered in.

Whilst you could argue that looks should be the last thing to consider when choosing functional hiking gear, there’s no denying that the worlds of functional outdoors apparel and fashion are increasingly intersecting and many hikers understandably want their gear to look good as well as being functional and it’s worth noting that Merrel also offers the Moab Speed 2 as a more contemporary styled alternative to the ‘classic’ Moab 3.

Durability

Durability is another area where the Merrell Moab has built its reputation. These boots are made from materials with a reputation for toughness and the build quality is very doo too. Whilst these boots won’t be as durable as more sturdy mountaineering boots, there are plenty of accounts of them lasting a long time indeed and we have no doubt that they will deliver many years of use.

Sustainability

Merrell claim that the synthetic webbing, laces and breathable mesh lining in the Moab 3 Mids are all made from 100% recycled material. The company is also committed to reducing plastic packaging and water usage in manufacturing along with reducing the number of their shoes that end up in landfill. The company also state that they fund a number of projects that promote inclusivity and diversity in the outdoors.

Water Resistance

Water resistance can seem difficult to pin down with the Moab family of footwear, simply because there are several seemingly very similar variants of the same shoe or boot with different levels of water resistance. Some variants are not offered in some territories and on top of all of this, it doesn’t help that many retailers do not label the variants correctly!

To (hopefully!) clear things up, there are three variants of these Moab 3 Mid boots: The standard version has no waterproof membrane. The waterproof variant – which we are assessing here – features Merrell’s in-house waterproof breathable membrane and costs slightly more than the non-waterproof version. Finally, the Gore Tex version replaces the in-house membrane with Gore Tex and commands another slight cost increase. Unless you only hike in very dry conditions we’d say that one of the waterproof versions is the way to go.

As mentioned, we’ve assessed the variant with Merrell’s own waterproof membrane and the good news is that this, in combination with gusseting on the tongue, does a good job of keeping water out on the trail. The waterproofing is not as good as some competitors, but for hiking in the rain or briefly crossing shallow streams, it holds up fine. Remember too that water can get into the boot via the ankle cuff and also soak in through your socks.

Weight

The Merrell Moab 3 Mid weighs in at 800g/1lb 12oz for a pair, putting them towards the lower end of the weight scale in terms of boots we’ve assessed. Whilst not the absolute lightest boot we’ve assessed, this is a respectable weight and even more so when you consider that these boots feature an upper section made largely from leather – which is traditionally considered a heavy material.

Weight carried on your feet is disproportionately fatiguing relative to the same amount of weight carried elsewhere – so paying attention to the weight of your footwear makes sense. However, this isn’t the full picture, and in many cases, you’ll happily trade some low weight if your footwear offers better durability, water resistance or support and in this regard, the Moab strikes a good balance.

merrell moab 3 lacing system

Insoles

These boots come with some fairly standard padded insoles. We think that most buyers will be just fine with these. However, if you want to fine-tune the fit of your boots, add extra arch support or just have something that feels more plush underfoot, then the supplied insoles can easily be swapped out.

Break-in Period

One of Merrell’s key marketing claims for the Moab 3 is that they are comfortable straight out of the box. Put simply, we found this to be true. Whilst we’d say that no boots are completely without a break in period, the Moab 3 gets very close, and many would probably be happy to wear a new pair straight out on a long hike.

Lacing System

The Merrell Moab 3 Mid uses regular laces. Whilst it might seem like there isn’t much more to say about these, laces are a fantastically versatile way to adjust the fit of your boots. – this can be done by adjusting the tension at different pairs of eyelets. It’s also possible to use different lacing patterns to further refine the fit of your boots.

Toe Protection

These boots feature a rubber rand around the toe and the sole also extends up to form a toecap at the tip of the boot. Whilst not the same level of protection as you’d get on more rigid mountaineering boots, this still gives good protection from many of the knocks and bumps you can expect on the trail.

Conclusion

We think it’s easy to understand why the Merrell Moab 3 Mid continues to be such a popular boot. Whilst there are other boots that better the specification of these in most ways, there are few that offer such a well-formed package of features.

The Moab 3 is basically a great hiking and walking boot that can often be had at a price that won’t break the bank. Renowned for their comfort, we’d recommend these boots to new and experienced hikers alike – though if you intend to hike in more extreme cold weather or on very technical terrain, then something a bit sturdier may well serve you better.

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