Not all hills need to be traversed quickly, and not all hikers need to move fast on uneven terrain. However, there will always be performance-driven outdoor enthusiasts who want to challenge themselves and are eager to conquer trails by completing a hike as fast as possible. And these people will need the third iteration of outdoor giant Merrell’s elite hiking boots, the MQM 3 GTX.
Standing for Moving Quickly in the Mountains, the Merrell MQM 3 GTX is the brand's best-selling multitool of footwear – it’s stable enough to hike in, agile enough to run in, and durable enough for light scrambling. Given Merrell’s rich history in hiking boots – with over 25 million pairs sold to date – we are inclined to believe these claims. Is the Merrell MQM 3 GTX the best shoes for fast movers? And should you buy one?
Coaxing Olympian and world record holder out of retirement, Merrell asked Tom Bosworth for his opinion about the new shoes. “Each part of the shoe’s design has a specific purpose in mind, and it’s this efficiency which allows it to lay claim to being a running, hiking and scrambling shoe”, Tom said, “So, if you’re someone who likes to horde shoes and is looking to create some space on your shoe rack, the MQM might be just for you. One shoe, three times less space.”
For those who need more convincing (anyone?), we collected three more reasons why the Merrell MQM 3 GTX should be at the top of your shopping list for hiking boots.
One might argue that all performance footwear designed for hiking needs to be agile, and the Merrell MQM 3 GTX surpasses the agility threshold set by standard hiking shoes with flying colours. The boots use the industry-leading GORE-TEX membrane to keep your feet dry without sacrificing breathability. You’ll find similarly innovative solutions at the bottom of the shoes: featuring the Vibram TC5+ technology, formulated exclusively for Merrell, the outsole provides exceptional traction for outdoor multi-sport activities. No wonder Merrell calls the MQM 3 GTX a multitool of footwear!
In the review mentioned above, Tom Bosworth highlighted a less obvious, albeit important feature of the MQM 3 GTX. “Something which you may overlook at first glance is the ‘climbing zone’ at the toe, " he explains, “I found it kicked in when I was navigating rockier parts of the trail and needed to do a bit of light scrambling.” The 5 mm lugs into the ground to provide stable footing for quick changes in tempo and orientation. “[The lugs’] directional [nature] made walking in them feel smooth and effortless”, he adds.
So the Merrell MQM 3 GTX is agile, but will it help hikers achieve higher speeds? It will, thanks to the unique combination of cushioning and responsiveness. Merrell’s Air Cushion technology in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability, while forefoot stability is provided by the Super Rebound Compound, which also helps reduce torque and allow for a smooth transition into the midfoot.
One thing you don’t want to worry about while hiking at high speed is foot protection. Worry not, as the Merrell MQM 3 GTX’s got you covered. The shoes feature a bellows tongue attached to the upper to keep out the debris and a rock plate under the forefoot for added stability and safety on rocky, technical paths. Stability is further enhanced via the moulded arch shank, a piece of nylon running from the balls of your feet towards the heel.
Finally, no one in their right mind would recommend outdoor gear in 2023, no matter how well-designed they might be, if they weren’t sustainably made. Thankfully, the Merrell MQM 3 GTX has 100% recycled laces and webbing, 100% recycled breathable mesh lining, and a 50% recycled removable EVA foam footbed. Naturally, the most environmentally-friendly thing you can do is to use the shoes for as long as you can, but considering the MQM 3 GTX’s durability, this means years and years of fast hiking.