Released in Spring 2021, the Merrell Moab Speed Gore-Tex is a walking and hiking shoe designed for fast, light adventures over rough ground. The combination of Vibram Traction Lug outsole, Gore-Tex waterproof membrane (plus a raft of other features) makes this shoe an appealing prospect.
Merrell has considered the environmental impacts of its products here, and the Moab Speed includes a proportion of recycled material in its construction, something we'd like to see more of in the future. It's also entirely synthetic, making it vegan-friendly.
The combination of features make this well-suited for year-round use, particularly in variable conditions in the transitional seasons, or for hikes where you know you're going to encounter mud and even the occasional stream crossing. But is it good enough to include in our list of the best women's walking shoes or the best men's walking shoes available today? Read on for our full Merrell Moab Speed walking shoe review.
Merrell Moab Speed review: design and features
As the name suggests, the Moab Speed features the waterproof and breathable category-leading Gore-Tex membrane, providing protection from the elements.
The upper is constructed of synthetic mesh and TPU with a padded collar and tongue. Merrell has opted for a lace-up system which is secure and simple to use. The insole is constructed from several parts, including an EVA foam insole plus removable PU foam insole. These provide a nice amount of cushioning and arch support, especially combined with the cushioned midsole.
Merrell includes a rock plate in the midsole, a stiffer and protective plate that protects the foot against uneven ground and provides additional support. The rest of the midsole features Merrell's FloatPro Foam which offers lightweight cushioning.
Finally, the outsole on these shoes features Vibram Ecostep rubber and Vibram Traction Lug design; these 4mm lugs in a combination of shapes and orientation provide confidence-boosting traction on climbs, descents and slick ground.
There is a significant percentage of the shoe that features recycled material. The laces are 100% recycled synthetic material, the inner mesh lining of the shoe is likewise 100% recycled. The Vibram Ecostep rubber is 30% recycled.
The fabric tab on the heel is a nice touch, making pulling on the shoes a little bit easier, while a ridge on the heel cup makes kicking off muddy shoes without getting your hands filthy do-able too.
In terms of aesthetics, the contrasting white sole may be a bit marmite but it certainly stands out. The Moab Speed is available in Black, Altitude (a blue/grey), Highrise (black, cream and pale red) and Lichen (green and light blue).
Merrell Moab Speed review: performance and comfort
We had worry-free hikes aplenty down muddy slopes, boggy fields and rocky climbs without once ever feeling nervous of our footing. The grip is exceptional and impressive. It's also worth noting that these shoes clean up well too; despite being caked in mud several times, they've washed up well.
The Gore-Tex membrane did a sterling job of keeping our feet dry despite plenty of sloshing about in streams, and though the shoes felt a little warm to start with on hotter hikes, the breathability meant that actually after a while our feet felt, and remained, a comfortable temperature.
However, whether it's because the fit was ever so slightly out or because of the heel cup design, we did experience a degree of heel lift. This is always a risk with shoes and can lead to blisters, and in this case was exacerbated by the presence of a seam that runs along the inside of the heel cup forming a slight ridge. This is not a unique feature; plenty of other shoes we've tested have this and we haven't experienced an issue, so our discomfort is probably more due to the movement of the heel caused by the fit being a bit big. The Merrell Moab Speed does seem to size up a little large, so you may prefer to go down a half size which should solve this issue.
Should I buy the Merrell Moab Speed Gore-Tex walking shoe?
The Merrell Moab Speed Gore-Tex isn't just a great all-round hiking shoe; we like that Merrell have worked to make the shoe more environmentally friendly with a percentage of the shoe constructed from recycled materials, and we'd love to see this percentage increase.
The combination of light weight, waterproofing, breathability and outsole grip make these a superb choice for year-round walking, particularly for transition seasons or for those whose walks take them over a range of terrain and environments. The grip is perfect for muddy ground or slick grass, the waterproofing keeps feet dry through puddles, damp grass or the occasional stream crossing and they're breathable enough that your feet won't overheat in the summer – though if you do tend to get hot feet, you'll probably be better off with something like the Merrell Choprock shoes which have a mostly mesh upper; think jandals!
Compared to the other shoes in our Best Women's Walking Shoes round-up, these Merrell's are nearly on a par with the category-winning Merrell MQM Flex 2 GTX shoes; choose the Moab Speed if you're looking for something lighter for faster hikes and more traction.
In fact, the only reason we scored this shoe down was an issue with the security of the foot in the shoe, but that's a pretty major element when it comes to determining performance, particularly for longer walks. We experienced a noticeable amount of heel lift and a hot spot in this area and, while we didn't get any blisters, that is the risk here. The shoes size up slightly big so it's critical that you find the right size and wear good walking socks which should minimise or eliminate this potential issue.