The Merrell Moab Speed is a lighter-weight version of the well-regarded Moab 3 that’s intended for trail running. This shoe is a great option for those looking for a lighter alternative to the Moab on the trial.
Pros / Reasons to Buy
- Iconic Moab fit and comfort
Cons / Reasons to Avoid
- Not the most supportive
- More expensive than the regular Moab
The Moab is one of Merrell’s key product families and also one of the world’s most popular hiking shoes. The Moab speed is a lightweight, trail-running oriented version that also makes for a great hiking shoe and we think it directly addresses some of the areas we felt were lacking in the regular Moab 3 – namely their weight and looks. The Moab speed is a great choice if you’re looking for a lightweight hiking shoe that comes with Merrell’s reputation for high comfort and good quality build.
Compare to Similar Products
- Danner Womens Trail 2650
- The North Face Hedgehog Fastpack
- Keen Nxis EVO Low Height Waterproof Hiking Shoe
- Main review guide: 20 Best Waterproof Hiking Shoes
Analysis and Test Results
The Moab is one of the most popular and iconic hiking shoes out there and rather than just being a single shoe, it’s a whole family of products. We’ve assessed the regular Merrell Moab 3 elsewhere in this round up and, whilst it’s an excellent shoe, there were a few areas we felt it had maybe fallen behind the times a bit: it’s relatively heavy and – we’ll admit this next one is quite subjective – we thought it looked a bit dated. The Moab Speed is a trail running focused version of the Moab 3 which makes for a great hiking shoe and what’s more, it addresses the two concerns we had with the regular Moab.
The Merrell Moab Speed features a chunky Vibram sole with a deep thread pattern. This promises to give excellent grip with the slightly soft rubber of the sole offering improved traction on wet, slippery rock surfaces.
As with the regular Moab 3, the Merrell Moab Speed features large mesh areas in its upper section, promising excellent breathability. This mesh is backed with a Gore-Tex membrane to help keep the shoes both water-resistant and breathable. Much of the mesh is quite wide and whilst this will improve breathability, it’s worth bearing in mind that wide mesh can fill up with sand when hiking in deserts or on the beach. Once there’s sand in mesh, it can be near impossible to get it out again, and in extreme cases it can noticeably increase the weight of a pair of shoes.
The Merrell Moab Speed are shoes rather than boots and as such they offer no direct ankle support. Now, whether you need ankle support is really a matter of personal preference and we think that many of the people considering shoes like this will be happy to prioritize the lower weight and increased ankle mobility offered by shoes over boots.
Out of the box, the Merrell Moab Speed shoes offer subtle arch support that we think many buyers will be perfectly happy with. In this regard the Moab Speed shoes are no different to pretty much all the other products in our round up. However, if you need greater arch support, it’s easy to replace the supplied insoles with a more heavily shaped aftermarket option and for some, this is a great way to increase the comfort of your shoes.
The Merrell Moab range are immensely popular and one of the key reasons you hear for their popularity is their fit and out of the box comfort. They are particularly popular with those who have slightly wider feet. These shoes are available in both regular and wide versions and in sizes from US 5/UK 2.5/EU 35 to US 11.5/UK 9/EU 43. It’s great to see Merrell offering smaller sizes and larger sizes are available in the essentially identical men’s version of this shoe. We’ve found them exceptionally comfortable very quickly into their wear on the trail.
These shoes are fully synthetic – indeed Merrell claim they are vegan. The use of fully synthetic materials allows Merrell to hit a very low weight point with these shoes. What’s more, they incorporate recycled materials in several areas: the laces and lining are 100% recycled; the insole has a 50% recycled top cover and the soles are 30% recycled. Hopefully future versions of the shoe can incorporate even more recycled material.
Whilst the Moab Speed is part of the wider Moab family, looks wise, it’s quite different to the ‘classic’ Moab. And we think this is a good thing! We feel that the regular Moab has aged somewhat and no longer represents cutting edge design. The Moab Speed, however, is a very different proposition and looks far more modern with a design the emphasizes the textural contrasts of the materials used. Merrell offer this shoe in a wide range of colorways ranging from all black through to some very vivid options. We like this – and especially so the brighter variants. We think there’s plenty who would consider these shoes good-looking enough to wear as day-to-day fashion shoes.
The Merrell Moab speed has clearly been designed with durability in mind. Whilst they are not as hardy as some of the more heavy-duty footwear we’ve assessed, we have no reason to think they wouldn’t last a long time indeed. A generous rubber rand at the front and heel provides protection from scrapes and tears on the trial whilst rubberized sections reinforce the mesh used elsewhere in the shoes. These shoes may not be quite as resilient as the regular Moab 3, but they are certainly not fragile or delicate either.
Weight is one area where the Merrell Moab Speeds impresses and where it really has an advantage over Moab 3. With a weight of 640g/1lb 5oz for a pair, these are amongst the lightest shoes in our round up and substantially lighter than the Moab 3. Light weight is important for footwear – even if you don’t normally choose to buy the lightest gear as weight carried on your feet is disproportionately fatiguing. Light weight makes sense for these shoes as they are intended for trail running and fast hiking, but it also makes them more attractive for general hiking too, in our opinion.
The Merrell Moab Speed shoes come with fairly generic insoles that are, as you would expect, removable. These insoles will do just fine for the vast majority of buyers of these shoes, but, if you want to add extra cushioning to the footbed or maybe increase arch support, then swapping out the supplied in soles is a great option. An inexpensive aftermarket insole can really make a big difference to comfort for some people, so this option is well-worth bearing in mind.
Merrell Moab’s have a reputation for out of the box comfort and the Moab Speed is no exception here – they wear very, very well. That said, we don’t think any footwear is completely without a breaking-in period we would always recommend wearing new shoes on a few shorted walks before committing to a longer hike in them. If you do have any issues with rubbing, well-fitting thicker or padded hiking socks can make a big difference. This is immaterial here, though, as they are extremely comfortable.
The Merrell Moab Speed uses regular laces. Laces are actually a great way to adjust the comfort of your shoes. You can vary the tension at specific lace eyelets to fine-tune the shoe’s fit and you can even completely change the lacing pattern to adjust the fit even further. Be sure to check out our guide for more info on this.
The Merrell Moab Speed shoes feature a hardened rubber section around the toe and the sole also extends up at the very front of the shoe to provide additional protection. This isn’t on the same level as the toe protection you get in heavier-duty hiking boots, but it’s about standard for lightweight trail runners. The toe protection these shoes offer will be enough to take the edge of any impacts you might get from stumbles or accidentally kicking into rocks on the trial.
Hiking Shoes v Hiking Boots
It used to be that sturdy boots were recommended for hiking, but that’s certainly changed in recent years and indeed many would argue that the Merrell Moab was an integral product in bringing about this change. Many will still favor boots on the trail – not least because the extra ankle support they provide can be very welcome on uneven ground. That said, there’s a lot to recommend hiking shoes too and a pair like these Moab Speed shoes offers a very attractive combination of low weight and improved mobility. Ultimately, this is a personal choice, but we think that shoes are more than capable on the trail.
We were impressed by the Merrell Moab 3 and these Moab Speed shoes seem to directly address the only concerns we had with their sibling product being noticeably lighter and having an (arguably) more attractive design. Behind it all though, these shoes are still Moab’s and feature the same very highly regarded fit and comfort the name has become synonymous with. These shoes carry a slight price premium over the regular Moab and may be slightly less durable in the long term too, but, aside from the weight and style, they also add a Gore-Tex lining which the lower end Moab 3 we reviewed did not have. Some will still prefer the more classic Moab, but we think these lighter Speed versions are a great choice and a very valid alternative take on a classic. You won’t be disappointed if you decide to buy these.
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