Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on December 28, 2023.
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We love a good pair of Merrell hiking shoes, and, as it turns out, we've been wearing their shoes for the better part of a decade now both at home and on our travels.
So when we were due for an upgrade, we settled on pairs of new Merrell Moab 3 shoes with GORE-TEX waterproofing to get the most out of the upgrade. So, how do the men's Moab 3 GORE-TEX and women's Moab 3 Mid GORE-TEX hiking shoes hold up?
We really put them through the test for this review!
Note: We received these shoes through a campaign with Merrell on another website we operate. We were not paid nor requested to publish this review in any capacity and are only sharing our thoughts as fans of the brand over the years.
Merrell Shoes are a Must for Hiking
After receiving our hiking shoes from Merrell, we knew we had to put them to the test through several hikes and terrains.
We noted how comfortable they were within minutes of putting the shoes on. While having a tight fit, the shoes were immensely comfortable with excellent sole and ankle support, and yet still felt breathable despite having advanced waterproofing. The soles offered a solid foundation that made navigating any surface a breeze- no traction issues or feeling every rock and pebble here!
When we hit our first trail, we were admittedly quite worried about how our feet would feel by the end since we did not have any extra time to break them in before hitting some intense days out. We were pleased to find out that the shoes held up and did not add any noticeable stress onto our feet despite being new- so much so that we are convinced that breaking shoes in is now a thing of the past, with good footwear at least.
So when it comes to hiking on rocks, long walks along the rim of the Grand Canyon, and a climb down (and back up) the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail, our Merrell shoes worked out so well for us that they felt like pairs we had owned for years let alone just a few short days. We certainly can't think of much worse conditions to put these shoes through in the first 30 miles of wear, but they held up beautifully to every obstacle.
Angie's hiking shoes were of special note as they were the Moab 3 Mid style. We both have historically been against hiking shoes with higher ankle support simply because they never were that comfortable and felt more awkward to wear than the benefits that they provided.
This one, however, was a dream come true.
Within minutes of getting out on our first rocky hike, the rugged McConnells Mill State Park in southwest Pennsylvania, Angie remarked just how noticeable the ankle support was. But this was not in a bad way. Instead, a combination of support and comfort won her over.
Truly high praise for a feature of a shoe style we historically never enjoyed, and honestly, I now regret not getting the higher ankle support myself based on my fears being overblown.
The only downside with these shoes? Well, like most hiking shoes, they are a magnet for dust, sand, and dirt- if you're hitting the kind of trails we do, at least.
As you can see from our above photos, one hike around Sedona's beautiful red rock and sand trails turned our beautiful blue shoes effectively brown- the buildup remained embedded even after a thorough soaking in water when we returned home. So, while this is not a serious issue at all, it may be worth keeping in mind if you are thinking about a shoe of a particular color- heavy hiking could change that in a hurry!
How Does the Waterproofing Hold Up?
As with all of our waterproof shoes, we always put them to the test to see how the waterproofing holds up. As these shoes have advanced GORE-TEX waterproofing, we were curious how this would compare with past waterproof shoes we have worn (from Merrell and competitors).
So, we pulled out a trusty bucket, filled it with water, stuck a foot in as high as possible without allowing water to seep into an obvious opening at the top, and started a timer.
We waited. And waited. And waited some more. Somewhere north of about 80 seconds, I felt just a little bit of moisture in the shoe, but I could not identify where it was coming from. Truly, it felt like I moved my foot down slightly and it came in at the top opening. But just as quickly as I noticed moisture, it soaked into my sock and it was hard to figure out the origin. Time ticks up, 90 seconds, no more discernable moisture, and honestly at this point we simply called the test because that is all we needed to see.
The waterproofing on the GORE-TEX shoes is incredible!
We've been on several hikes where we had to trudge through water, and our shoes have always coped well. But we cannot think of a single scenario where our foot has ever been submerged for more than a few seconds at a time. You're in the stream and out of the stream as quickly as possible.
Even our hike through the bone-soaking wetness of the Besseggen Hike in Norway did we ever have our feet submerged for anything close to this amount of time (that said, between the rain and high water crossings, we were drenched all the same- no amount of waterproofing can prevent water coming in from the top of a shoe, short of getting a shoe with higher ankle support or wearing something like gaiters for rain protection).
Still, as hiking shoes often vary on how well they can handle water, with some being water resistant and others being fully waterproof, we were pleased with how well this one held up in its initial test. Now to see how well that holds after months and years of hiking!
Overall, we have been fans of Merrell hiking shoes for many years now, and our Moab 3 and Moab 3 Mid GORE-TEX shoes are another set in a long line of stellar hiking gear we take with us wherever we go. While these are an appreciable price point, you truly get what you pay for when it comes to a good pair of hiking shoes.
We would like to thank Merrell for sending us these shoes as part of a separate campaign on another site of ours. However, we just had to gush about how much we love them as fans here. To pick up pairs of Merrell hiking shoes, click here to buy directly or click here to buy on Amazon.
About the Author: Jeremy is a full-time travel writer based in Pittsburgh and primary author of this site. He has been to 70+ countries on five continents and seeks out new food, adventure activities, and off-the-beaten-path experiences wherever he travels.