The Merrell MQM 3 GTX is the successor to the Merrell MQM 2, (MQM stands for Moving Quickly in the Mountains), and is the third iteration of this shoe. The Merrell MQM 3 GTX is available now, with a UK RRP of £130.
The basic design may have been tweaked, but the broad sweep of the concept remains the same - a trail-inspired shoe that’s robust enough for the hills and scrambling duties, but comfortable and protective enough for walking. It’s quite a manifesto to deliver - so how does the Merrell MQM 3 GTX measure up against the best walking shoes for men and women available today?
Merrell MQM 3 GTX Review: Design and build
The new Merrell MQM 3 GTX brings a variety of all-new technologies and elements to the older model, which itself was broadly well-received. The Merrell MQM 3 GTX features a new Vibram TC5+ outsole with 5mm lugs, also racking in 100% recycled laces and webbing, 100% recycled mesh lining and a 50% recycled EVA foam insole. There’s also an all-new molded nylon arch shank for ‘greater stability and support’, according to Merrell.
The Merrell MQM 3 GTX offers a drop of 6mm, which would be considered low for a road running shoe, but more medium for a trail shoe. Merrell lists the weight of the MQM 3 GTX as 1 lbs-7oz/640g, but our scales say 338 grams each (size UK 9), so make of that what you will.
As the name implies, there’s a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane baked into the upper, which is mainly mesh apart from that, barring small areas of TPU reinforcement, and a decent-sized toe cap rand that offers a fair amount of protection. The shoe is cut trail-style low on the ankle, good for movement but not so strong on protection, and a bellows tongue attempts to keep fine gravel out of the shoe.
The sole unit conceals the nylon arch shank, as well as a trail-style rock plate for foot protection, a Merrell Air Cushion in the heel and ‘Super Rebound Compound’, which allegedly provides ‘durable shock absorption to help reduce torque’, according to Merrell.
So much for the specs - what of the actual shoe? Well, good news. The build quality here is really very respectable, little areas of bar-tacking to reinforce the high stress sections, and neatly applied TPU reinforcement that looks the part. The three different types of mesh are stitched together, then that stitching is taped over the top, giving a robust air to proceedings. Equally the area around the toe reinforcement is also TPU ‘taped’ too, blending the two surfaces and adding a sense of quality.
Merrell MQM 3 GTX Review: Performance and comfort
The obvious thing that strikes you as soon as you pull the Merrell MQM 3 GTX on is that they are indeed very light, feather light in fact. The trail-style feeling continues in the fit - these are quite narrow, and come up snug for our testers, something to bear in mind for the wide-of-foot. The combination of low weight, low drop and lack of bulk in the upper gives a very prehensile feel to the shoe, it’s easy to place the foot accurately, even on rocky trails. The long, approach shoe-style lacing also plays to this, as it’s easy to adjust the lacing to really clamp the foot if needed, which gives quite a bit of security.
That approach shoe market is firmly flagged up by the substantial ‘climbing zone’ of Vibram in the toe area, and this works well on the rock, allowing smearing and edging as you’d expect, the ankle freedom working very much in the Merrell MQM 3 GTX’s favour here. The 5mm lugs offer good grip elsewhere, especially on grass and mud, although arguably not in the same class as a flat-out aggressive trail shoe.
Comfort is also good, aided by that very light weight, but also by decent cushioning throughout the stride and dependable support from the new arch shank that you can really feel working on more squirrel-y sections of rough stuff. A final positive is the Gore-Tex membrane, not just because it does what it’s supposed to, but as it adds windproofing as well, upping the warmth of the shoe and giving the impression of a more protective, heavier shoe but without the weight or bulk.
Merrell MQM 3 GTX Review: Verdict
The Merrell MQM 3 GTX is a worthy successor to the Merrell MQM 2, continuing the versatility of the old model (which is no mean feat). The older model was a good walking shoe with the potential to be used as a trail runner, while the new model adds in more than a little of the approach shoe’s happiness on rock.
They’re certainly usable as trail runners if needed, and as walking shoes they work perfectly well too, rounding out the list of possible outdoor shoe applications. Sure, the lugs on a full fat trail shoe are more aggressive, and the rubber on an approach shoe might be stickier, but when you’re taking on all comers some of the specifics need to be toned down. The bottom line is that the Merrell MQM 3 GTX is a great all-rounder, and will take on most outdoor tasks with aplomb - job done, really.