There is no “best” walking/hiking shoe.
But the Merrell Moab Vent 2™ comes really close, and I’ll be ordering a third pair soon.
by Leon Pantenburg
I bought these shoes to wear. At the time of publication, there was no sponsorship or advertising relationship with Merrell, and the company had no input into this review.
I officially wore out my second pair of Ventilators last week, when I was mowing my lawn. After several thousand miles of walking and hiking, and countless late night dog walks, the sole finally separated from the body. I duct taped the sole and was able to finish the job.
Quality gear is worth the money. I bought my first pair of Vents at the REI garage sale for about $20. I wore them out hiking and walking the Central Oregon mountain trails. They were also my go-to shoe for everything, from walking the dog to walking downtown to an event.
My second pair were commuters. I lived about three miles from my office at Central Oregon Community College, and frequently walked to work. The Ventilators were comfortable to wear, and looked fine in a college office environment.
They also got worn desert hiking. They were cool in the heat and dust of the Oregon Badlands. When walking on scree or sandy areas, an ankle high set of gaitors kept the small rocks and sand out of the shoe. These were cooler than higher boots, and a lot lighter.
In 2018, the Merrell Moab 2 Vent Mids, the high top version of the Vent, was rated the best hiking boot on the Appalachian Trail.
Now, renamed the Merrell Men’s Moab 2 Vent Hiking Shoe, this footwear might be the light hiker you’ve been looking for.
Here are the Merrell Moab 2 Vent specs:
- Suede leather and Mesh
- Synthetic sole
- Performance suede leather and mesh upper
- Bellows, closed-cell foam tongue keeps moisture and debris out. Molded nylon arch shank
- Protective rubber toe cap, Breathable mesh lining
- 5mm lug depth
- Vibram TC5+ sole
The good stuff:
Sole pattern: The pattern is not that of a logger boot, but the five millimeter deep pattern grips great on wet pavement, and well on most dirt and cinder trails.
Not waterproof: IMHO, waterproofing is not practical for a low cut shoe. All it does is make the shoe hot and your feet sweat. At best, you only have an inch or two of waterproofing, and then the water will go into the shoe. And there it will stay, since there is no way for it to get out.
Breathe well: This ties in with the lack of waterproofing. A waterproof boot or shoe doesn’t breathe. I have tried enough boots and raingear with Goretex® liners to know that the concept doesn’t work.
Ventilated to keep your feet dry in hot weather: In desert or other hot weather hiking, a waterproof boot is an abomination. There is no venting, and your foot will end up wet and soggy. This causes your feet to soften up, and blisters and sore feet are inevitable.
This situation happens in deserts and swamps. The best solution is to have shoes that breathe. Another hot weather hiking tip: Wear wool socks. They don’t hold water and they breath and ventilate well. (This is not a hasty opinion – check out the story and wool socks review.)
Extremely fast dry time after puddle jumping: Accept that at some point on your hike in the desert, swamp or forest, your feet will probably get wet. An important aspect of hiking comfort is how fast your shoes and socks will dry out. With Vents and wool socks, you have the optimum combination.
Great for hiking and trail running: I quit running after some 35 years, 40,000 miles and two complete knee replacements. But I would have no hesitation recommending Vents for trail running. Runners need a sturdy, flexible shoe with a reliable tread that grips most trail surfaces well, and the Vents should work fine.
Not so hot on:
Too light to carry a heavy pack with: I did a lot of dayhiking with these shoes in the Central Oregon backcountry. As long as my pack was under about 12 pounds, the shoes were fine. Much past that, I would want a heavier hiking boot.
I would not wear Vents to pack out an elk hindquarter, even on a trail, nor would I trust the tread pattern on steep mountain sidehills, especially those with long grass on them.
Insoles somewhat thin: But that’s not a big deal for me, since I replace most of the insoles in my shoes or boots. I like felt insoles in my cold weather boots, and have had good luck with Zelus insoles.
You’ll find the factory insoles provide good cushioning, though, and you may decide the insoles work just fine.
In the final analysis, there is no best shoe for every situation. (Here’s how you choose.) But for my money, it is hard to do better than a pair of Merrell Moab 2 Vents.
I also love my Merrell Jungle Moc Pro Grips. I can polish and wear them with a pair of dress slacks, and they look just fine. And nobody gave me a free pair of these either!
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