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(The Gear Loop) - The Merrell Moab Flight is a trail running shoe that oozes comfort on every run. The combination of a chunky midsole with a generously padded upper delivers an enjoyable level of support and cushioning mile after mile.

The brand has become a go-to for people who want reliability and a luxurious feel from their kit, and the Moab Flight doesn’t disappoint in this respect. It’s never going to be a great option if speed and agility is your main focus, but for pure enjoyment in the outdoors, it ticks a lot of boxes.

Tom WheatleyMerrell Moab Flight review photo 2

It’s no slouch when it comes to technical features either, with a number of welcome additions that means it can tackle everything from light trails to tougher terrain. Those features include a Vibram outsole, a ‘FloatPro’ foam midsole and a breathable mesh lining.

In the Loop

Here's what you can expect from the Merrell Moab Flight:

  • 70% recycled mesh upper
  • 100% recycled laces
  • Breathable mesh lining
  • EVA foam insole
  • Removable PU foam insole
  • FloatPro Foam midsole
  • Vibram EcoStep rubber outsole
  • Vegan-Friendly
  • Lightweight 300g/10.6oz
  • 10mm drop
MerrellMerrell Moab Flight review photo 8

Merrell Moab Flight review: design and looks

Plush, roomy comfort comes at a price and if you’re looking for a sleek trail shoe design the Moab Flight is going to be a long way off your wishlist. The thick padded upper makes for a noticeably wide shoe, which may put some people off in the looks department. When viewed from above, they look bulky and where running shoes are concerned, this always has the effect of appearing slow. 

Fortunately, Merrell has knocked the ball out of the park with an impressive range of colourways, spanning an understated dark blue to a bright orange and tartan style, which we bravely tested here. There’s even a couple of options with 80s-inspired multi-coloured midsoles - but they may be a bit too much for our tastes. We tested the orange version and, despite the chunky feel, were very impressed with how they looked, although it's probably not something we would rock on an evening out. 

Tom WheatleyMerrell Moab Flight review photo 1

Merrell Moab Flight review: features

The Merrell Moab Flight, as you’ve probably guessed from its bulky aesthetics, is a shoe focused on comfort and cushioning above all else. The thick ‘FloatPro’ foam midsole is there to allow for a soft landing, while still giving a slight level of responsiveness over harder trails.

The upper combines a breathable mesh lining with a generous helping of padding around the ankle and heel, the tongue and the midfoot. There’s also a thick removable EVA foam insole for added plushness inside the shoe. Cushioning is the key here and works well when all throwin in together. 

MerrellMerrell Moab Flight review photo 7

The outsole is made from a generous layer of Vibram rubber with 3mm lugs to add grip on varied terrain. Other notable features include a heavily padded tongue, flat laces made from recycled materials and embroidered patterning across the full length of the shoe’s upper. On top of this, the shoe is 100 per cent vegan-friendly with zero animal products used in its making. 

Merrell Moab Flight review: performance in the field

Our testing of the Moab Flight took us from the muddy fields of Lincolnshire to the rocky mountains of the Croatian coastline. When used across the flat British countryside, we found the shoe worked very well in favourable conditions. The thick midsole foam is perfectly designed for minimising the impact over long runs and the padded upper makes it feel incredibly soft and comfortable over any distance.

That midsole foam manages to balance a slight softness on rocky ground with a subtle level of responsiveness. In many ways, it delivers like a rugged road shoe, something that becomes even more noticeable on roads and paths in between trail sections.

Tom WheatleyMerrell Moab Flight review photo 4

On wet mud and claggy fields, the Moab Flight unfortunately disappointed . The 3mm lugs lacked the length to grip onto the softer surface with confidence and would occasionally leave us slipping across paths, desperately trying to find solid ground. We also found that the sole collected a lot of mud in the process and could often feel like running with kettlebells strapped to our feet.

However, the shoe really excelled for us when we hit the rocky trails of Croatia. The soft midsole did an impressive job at taking the brunt of the terrain, keeping our legs fresh - despite the relentless, glute-shredding inclines. The Vibram outsole also came into its own on this harder ground, gripping well to the smooth surfaces on both wet and dry trails.

MerrellMerrell Moab Flight review photo 6

When we first tried the Moab Flight on, we were initially concerned that the generous shape of the upper might translate to a shoe that lacks any sort of support. Although it’s definitely a challenge to get a tight, locked-down fit, the amount of padding that sits in the upper means it still manages to feel secure on the run and we had no issues with slippage – although we wouldn’t suggest using it for technical climbs.

The main downside we experienced in testing was the thickness of the upper. In colder temperatures, it’s a welcome addition to the shoe that does a good job at keeping the foot insulated, especially over long or slower runs. In hotter climates, that same upper makes for some very sweaty feet and the pang of relief we felt when taking them off became marred by a growing odour after each wear.

Verdict

It’s a shoe that excels when it comes to workhorse miles on long paths and hard-surfaced trails. The thick, cushioned midsole takes the brunt of the terrain and turns the impact into a smooth and enjoyable experience, protecting the legs and keeping them fresh for as long as possible. That enjoyment is improved further with the plush upper which feels instantly welcoming as soon as you step into them.

Tom WheatleyMerrell Moab Flight review photo 5

Outside of those lighter paths and trails, the shoe is limited. Much like us when testing it, the shoe falls down when it comes to tackling muddy ground, lacking the grip and outsole design for soft, wet surfaces. In addition, the plush design can be an issue when training in warmer conditions, meaning the feet can get sweaty and - trust us on this one - a bit smelly.

Also consider...

HokaMerrell Moab Flight review photo 11

Hoka Zinal

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Extremely fast, light and responsive, the Hoka Zinal is arguably the antithesis of the Merrell Moab Flight, offering agility and a fleet-footedness that will benefit those looking to smash targets and beat personal bests. 

A moulded EVA sockliner and Vibram Megagrip outsole with 4mm lugs pair up for a brilliantly secure fit around the foot and unwavering grip on the surface below. It's also made from lots of recycled materials and it is vegan-friendly, but don't think it isn't durable. This is one tough cookie that's built to fly on the trails. 

Writing by Tom Wheatley. Editing by Leon Poultney. Originally published on 9 November 2021.