Merrell Moab 2 vs Moab 3 Hiking Shoe Differences

Last Updated: Feburary 07, 2024 | Author: Jake Thompson

Stepping into the world of hiking footwear is akin to navigating a labyrinth; with so many twists and turns, it's easy to feel lost among the options. I've always been meticulous when it comes to my gear, and the debate between the Merrell Moab 2 vs Moab 3 has piqued my curiosity.

In my professional experience, both versions are highly respected by hikers, but as with any sequel, the devil is in the details. I've laced up both pairs and hit the trails to dissect their strengths and weaknesses, from the breathability of the fabric to the resilience of the soles.

Merrell Moab 2 vs Moab 3 - hero

It's not just about which boot can take you further or higher—it's about which can enhance your overall experience with every step. So, let's walk through the subtle yet significant differences that could impact your journey on the path less traveled.

Table of Contents:

  1. Key Takeaways
  2. Table: Merrell Moab 2 vs Moab 3
  3. Pros & Cons
  4. Design
  5. Upper Construction
  6. Outsole Design
  7. Durability
  8. Comfort
  9. Insole and Midsole Technology
  10. Breathability and Ventilation
  11. Performance
  12. Traction & Stability
  13. Environmental Impact
  14. Final Verdict
  15. Frequently Asked Questions

Key Takeaways

  • - The Moab 3 has several new features and materials, including an improved insole, cushioned midsole, Vibram outsole, increased use of recycled materials, and higher weight capacity.
  • - The Moab 3 offers better support, protection, and comfort compared to the Moab 2, making it suitable for day-long hikes and firm surfaces.
  • - Both the Moab 2 and Moab 3 are durable, but the Moab 3 has no significant problems after prolonged use and is suitable for longer use.
  • - The Moab 3 has a more streamlined design, with a thinner upper and a minimalist aesthetic, while the Moab 2 has a rugged and traditional design. The Moab 3 also has a lace trap to keep the laces secure and tucked away.

Table: Merrell Moab 2 vs Moab 3

Merrell Moab 2 Merrell Moab 3
Feature Merrell Moab 2 Merrell Moab 3
Upper Material Performance suede leather and mesh. Performance suede leather and mesh, with a higher percentage of recycled materials.
Lining Breathable mesh lining. Breathable mesh lining with improved moisture-wicking and antimicrobial properties.
Sole Technology Vibram® TC5+ outsole with 5mm lug depth for grip. Advanced Vibram® TC5+ outsole with 5mm lug depth and enhanced multidirectional traction.
Midsole EVA midsole for stability and comfort. New, more responsive and cushioned EVA midsole for enhanced comfort.
Footbed M Select™ FIT.ECO+ blended EVA contoured footbed with added zonal arch and heel support. Kinetic Fit™ ADVANCED contoured footbed with reinforced heel cushioning and arch support.
Weight (per shoe) Men's size 9: 1 lb 15 oz (880g) approximately. Men's size 9: 1 lb 8 oz (680g) approximately.
Waterproofing M Select™ DRY seals out water and lets moisture escape. M Select™ DRY impermeable membrane, with improved breathability and water protection.
Closure System Traditional lace closure. Traditional lace closure with enhanced durability and a better fit.
Toe Protection Rubber toe cap for protection. Protective and durable rubber toe cap with a redesigned shape for better protection and comfort.
Heel Technology Merrell Air Cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability. Enhanced Merrell Air Cushion for superior shock absorption and stability, with a more ergonomic design.
Ventilation Mesh panels for breathability. Improved design with more strategic ventilation zones for superior breathability.
Sustainability Standard environmental practices. Utilizes more sustainable materials including recycled rubber outsole and laces, and fewer harmful adhesives.
Intended Use Ideal for hiking, trekking, and light outdoor activities. Designed for a wide range of outdoor activities, offering improved performance on both trails and urban environments.

Pros & Cons

Merrell Moab 2

  • - Durable and waterproof
  • - More affordable
  • - Comfortable with good cushioning
  • - Reliable traction with Vibram TC5+ outsole
  • - Heavier, potentially causing fatigue
  • - Less breathable

Merrell Moab 3

  • - Improved breathability and comfort
  • - Lighter weight enhances agility
  • - Eco-friendly design with recycled materials
  • - Enhanced traction with Vibram EcoDura outsole
  • - Higher price point
  • - Synthetic upper is less protective than Moab 2's suede


When comparing the upper construction of both hiking shoes, I notice that the Moab 3 utilizes a lightweight fabric upper, which contrasts with the suede and mesh composition of the Moab 2.

The outsole design also shows significant changes; the Moab 3 features a Vibram EcoDura outsole made from recycled rubber, offering improved traction over the Vibram TC5+ outsole of its predecessor.

These design modifications not only enhance the functionality of the Moab 3 but also reflect an increased commitment to sustainability.

Related: Merrell vs Keen Hiking Shoes Comparison

Upper Construction

The upper construction of both shoes highlights a deliberate evolution in design. The Moab 3 features a blend of durable and breathable materials that cater to both protection and comfort for the hiker. The Moab 2 employs a pig suede leather complemented by mesh inserts, ensuring breathability while also integrating a waterproof membrane for moisture control. Its tongue and collar are cushioned for comfort, but it's the Moab 3 that refines these aspects with a more advanced lining.

The Moab 3's upper meshes with an enhanced suede quality and robust rubber toe cap to fortify against trail debris. Both models maintain a balance of breathability and protection, but the Moab 3 edges forward with its updated materials and construction.

Outsole Design

Building on the robust upper construction of both models, let's consider the outsole design, where the Merrell Moab series further distinguishes itself in terms of durability and traction.

The Merrell Moab 2 features a Vibram TC5+ outsole known for its dependable grip on various surfaces, thanks to a lug pattern that provides stability on rocky and uneven terrain.

In contrast, the Moab 3 introduces the Vibram EcoDura outsole, which not only sustains the durability expected from the series but also enhances traction with a deeper 5mm lug depth. This outsole is crafted from recycled rubber, aligning with a sustainable approach without compromising on performance.

The improved outsole design of the Moab 3 thus ensures a reliable grip across diverse landscapes, maintaining a superior level of traction underfoot.


Assessing the durability of Merrell's Moab series, it's evident that both are designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor activities, with the latter introducing enhancements that may extend its longevity and resistance to wear.

The Moab 2 set a high benchmark for durability with its pig suede leather and Vibram TC5+ outsole. However, the Moab 3 represents an upgrade in this area. It features a Vibram EcoDura outsole, which not only offers improved traction but is also crafted from recycled rubber, indicating a stride toward sustainability without sacrificing durability.

When it comes to durability, the use of gold-rated leather and reinforced rubber toe caps in the Moab 3 underscores the series' commitment to creating durable footwear capable of enduring diverse conditions.

Discover durable options in our Best Work Boots for Concrete review, tailored for enduring comfort and resilience.


When assessing the comfort, I immediately notice the insole and midsole advancements in the newer model.

The Moab 3's insole is designed for increased support, potentially enhancing comfort during prolonged wear.

In terms of breathability and ventilation, the Moab 3 also introduces materials aimed at improving airflow, a critical factor in maintaining comfort over time.

For those prioritizing comfort due to specific conditions like plantar fasciitis, explore our top picks in the Best Work Boots for Plantar Fasciitis for supportive workwear solutions.

Insole and Midsole Technology

Merrell Moab 2 vs Moab 3 - hero

The advancement in insole and midsole technology significantly enhances the comfort of the Merrell Moab 3, offering a more supportive and cushioned hiking experience compared to its predecessor.

As I delve into the details:

  1. - Arch Support: The Moab 3 benefits from a revamped footbed that provides targeted arch support, which is crucial for maintaining foot alignment and reducing fatigue during long treks.
  2. - Cushion and Midsole: Utilizing an improved EVA midsole, the Moab 3 delivers superior cushioning. This material helps absorb shock and offers a responsive feel underfoot, which is appreciated on rugged terrain.
  3. - Nylon Arch Shank: The inclusion of a nylon arch shank in the Moab 3 adds to its stability. This feature works to bridge the heel and forefoot, thus enhancing the shoe's overall structure without compromising flexibility.

These Moab features collectively elevate the hiker's comfort, providing a reliable and enjoyable outdoor experience.

Breathability and Ventilation

While both the Merrell Moab 2 and Moab 3 are designed to maximize airflow, it's the Moab 3's enhanced mesh and TPU upper that offers a notable improvement in breathability and ventilation for sustained comfort during hikes.

Delving deeper into the Moab vs Moab comparison, one can't overlook the significance of breathability in a hiking shoe. The Moab 3's mesh facilitates increased airflow, essential for keeping your feet cool and minimizing moisture accumulation. This is especially crucial when traversing through warmer climates or engaging in extended treks.

Moab hiking shoes are known for their breathable qualities, but the Moab 3 takes it a step further, ensuring that the interior climate of the shoe remains balanced, thus preventing discomfort from sweat and overheating.


When assessing the performance, I focus on the traction and stability each offers.

The Moab 2's Vibram TC5+ outsole provides a reliable grip on various terrains, which is essential for a secure hiking experience.

In contrast, the Moab 3's updated Vibram EcoDura outsole, made with recycled rubber, aims to enhance traction further, supporting a stable hike across more challenging landscapes.

Here's a structured table that encapsulates the key points:

Feature Merrell Moab 2 Merrell Moab 3
Outsole Material Vibram TC5+ Vibram EcoDura (recycled rubber)
Traction Reliable grip on various terrains Enhanced grip, especially on challenging terrains
Stability Standard ankle support Upgraded ankle collar and supportive arch shank
Durability Durable construction Improved durability with eco-friendly materials
Lug Design Effective for general hiking Deeper lug design for superior traction on slick or loose surfaces

Traction & Stability

Assessing the traction and stability of the Merrell Moab series reveals that both Moab 2 and Moab 3 offer reliable performance, yet the Moab 3's new Vibram EcoDura outsole provides enhanced grip, particularly on challenging terrain. When I set out on a hike, having confidence in my footing is crucial, especially over rocky and uneven ground.

Here's what I've found:

1. The rubber outsole is made from Vibram EcoDura in the Moab 3, which is a recycled material providing excellent traction and durability.

2. An upgraded ankle collar and the addition of a supportive arch shank in the Moab 3 improve stability, preventing ankle rolls on treacherous paths.

3. While both models are competent, the Moab 3 outshines its predecessor on slick or loose surfaces due to the deeper lug design.

Environmental Impact

Considering the environmental impact, it's notable that the Merrell Moab 3 has made significant strides by incorporating more recycled materials into its design compared to its predecessor, the Moab 2. The Moab 3's use of a Vibram EcoDura outsole, made from recycled rubber, is a testament to this eco-friendly approach.

While the Moab 2 features a waterproof membrane material, the Moab 3 offers a more sustainable alternative without compromising on protection and durability. Furthermore, the recycled content extends to the Moab 3's laces, webbing, and lining, enhancing its green credentials.

These improvements reflect an evolved sensitivity towards reducing environmental impact. Both models still guarantee exceptional comfort and lightweight wear, but the Moab 3's recycle-conscious construction is a commendable step forward in sustainable outdoor gear.

Echoing our commitment to sustainability, those seeking waterproof yet eco-friendly work boots should check our Best Waterproof Work Boots guide for all-weather protection.

Final Verdict

After comparing the Merrell Moab 3 vs Moab 2 in detail, it's clear that both hiking shoes offer exceptional features for outdoor enthusiasts. The Moab 3 introduces enhancements in comfort, breathability, and sustainability, with its use of recycled materials and improved design features. On the other hand, the Moab 2 remains a solid choice for those who value a more traditional design and affordability. Ultimately, the best shoe for you depends on your priorities: if you're looking for the latest in shoe technology and sustainability, the Moab 3 is the way to go; but if you prefer proven durability and a lower price point, the Moab 2 won't disappoint.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What's the difference between Merrell Moab 2 and Moab 3 hiking shoes?

The Moab 3 improves upon the Moab 2 with enhanced comfort and durability. While retaining the customary features, Moab 3 offers better support compared to its predecessor, making it an excellent choice for both novice and casual hikers.

2. Is the Moab 3 a better option for hikers concerned about wet conditions?

Yes, the Moab 3 is a better option for hikers who frequently get wet thanks to its improved materials and design that contribute to quicker drying times, reducing the chance of blisters.

3. For hikers looking for a wide-toe box, which model should they consider?

The Moab 2 offers a generous toe box allowing for more splay, making it the perfect choice for hikers needing extra room to prevent blisters and ensure comfort on long treks.

4. Can the Moab 3 be considered a great hiking shoe without breaking the bank?

The Moab 3 is a great hiking shoe that offers significant improvements over the Moab 2 without a steep increase in price, making it a great option for hikers looking for quality and value.

5. For a novice hiker, which Merrell Moab shoe is the recommended preference?

For novice hikers, the Moab 3 is an excellent choice. Its enhanced cushioning, support, and durability make it a superior option that contributes positively to the hiking experience, all while being an accessible shoe without breaking the bank.

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Jake Thompson

Jake Thompson

I am Jake, a sports enthusiast, love everything about sports, particularly basketball and volleyball. I've played both sports at a local level. Here to share my passion for sports and sports gear experiences with you.