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  1. #1

    Default Merrell Moab alternatives

    I have worn Merrell Moab Ventilators for years. They are comfortable and never give me blisters. The problem is that the Vibram soles are dangerously slick and they always have been. After nearly breaking my arm on a rainy backpacking trip, I've had enough. Tennis shoes would provide better grip than the Moabs. Can anyone suggest alternative shoes that are similar, but with better traction? I am a size 14 and don't have the ability to try on a lot of different shoes at local outfitters. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  2. #2
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    I had a pair of Merrill's (not Ventilator) with the slick Vibram sole, I ended up calling them my slippers - till one day I realized that it was too much of a risk to use them on trail and retired them to everyday service till they were gone. Really I never understood why the love for Vibram, it seemed like a step backwards to the soles I had before that. But anyway as a alternative it's going to depend on your feet and you will just need to try different ones. Good luck

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    I have worn Oboz Sawtooth low hiking shoes for years now, on trail, on daily walks, going to the grocery store, working in the yard, remodeling, just about all the time. After a number of previous failures, I tried them because of the advertised wide toe box and very grippy sole. I added Superfeet pink insoles. Never a blister or an ache, and never a slip, even on wet, slick floors (although wet leaves are a different matter. Not sure any shoe or boot would help with them). The only failure I've had is with a seven year old pair that started losing grip and then pieces of the soles after a long stint of tracking through high voc house paint. The other seven year old pair is fine. I know, not trail runners, super light, or high tech, but they work great for me.

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    I had moab years ago. Then switched to Keen. They were good but had trouble with the multi piece sole coming unglued. Then switched to Oboz. On my second pair. All are low top, non waterproof, ventilated hiking shoes

  5. #5

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    If you find them comfortable, find a shoe with a similar drop. I currently use both the Moab and Brooks Cascadia 14s depending on where and when I'm hiking. The moab provide better protection and hold up better though the added ventalation of the Cascadias is more welcome in the hotter part of the year/ Soles don't have as many issues out west, but on parts of the AT on the other hand...

  6. #6

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    I've used MOAB Ventilators, non-waterproof, low cut, for about 15 years. Great shoes. I am now trying some MOAB Edge 2. I'm liking them!

    But the OP issue is the soles and I suspect these are about the same as the Ventilators.
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  7. #7

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    Thanks everyone for the input so far. The Oboz Sawtooth looks like a similar shoe. If it has better traction, I may give that a shot. Hard to move on from a shoe that fits so well, but sliding around for 30 miles in the Moabs recently was enough for me.

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    Not much worse than complete loss of traction, very dangerous. I'm going to play Devils Advocate here and say it might not have been the shoes, any shoe might have slipped. I find the Vibram soles (including Merrill which I own but dont wear often) to be pretty darn good. But I think it's subjective. Unless you have two pairs of shoes to try in the same exact conditions, it's hard to say one would outperform the other. There are just some mossy rocks that no shoe will grip and give complete confidence.

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    On my 4 year AT hike, I wore Moabs three of those four years, and I slipped and fell six times, and nearly fell many other times.

    On my fourth year I wore Altra Lone Peaks from Vermont to Katahdin, and never fell once, and slipped very few times.

    The softer soles definitely make a difference.


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  10. #10

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    FWIW, I had similar traction issues with my Merrill Moab hiking shoes. Though they worked ok on what I consider average or general hiking trails overall, damp to wet surfaces seem to challenge their grip. I got a pair of Oboz Sawtooth's and found them to be a lot more sure footed in more rugged terrain and wet conditions. Hard to say if the Vibram material or lug/tread pattern on the Moabs causing slippery mischief. The Oboz has different sole material and lug/tread pattern that do seem to have a better grip. I think the Oboz are wearing a little faster than the Merrills with Vibram soles, but I will trade a few miles of wear for added confidence.

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    I might as well throw my 2cents in as I had the exact same experience with the merrills, they worked fine when I first started hiking but the more I got out there and more experience I also came to the conclusion way to slick. So I went trail runners 0- drop Altras, for a few years now I'm using the Altra temps same 0-drop but more cushion. Great traction super sticky to the rocks and roots and do very well under wet conditions. I looking at the hoka speedgoat I think there called they use 3 layers of Kevlar super tuff , super light, breathable. This is all 3 season of course.

  12. #12

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    After a year with my MOABs, I went to a local shoe repair and had Vibram Lug soles put on. Repair guy sanded down the old and glued the lugs.
    Never had a problem. They looked like brand new boots when I got them back.

  13. #13

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    i just bought my 5th pair of Moabs. i never had an issue with traction. i just bought the last pair 4 days ago & haven't hiked in them yet. i tried Hoka Speedgoats 4 and slipped in those shoes more than i ever did in the Moabs. tried the Sawtooth and they felt great at first but they started to hurt after a few hikes.

  14. #14

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    reminds me of my army days. I was a boat guy.. nature of the Army Watercraft are Transportation corp. So most of our senior E-8 and up and Commissioned officers were truck people knew nothing of boats. Army regs say XYZ boots or "similar appearance".. Now similar is open to interpretation. Most boat guys ended up in Navy boots before long and every time we got a new 1st sergeant or SGM , they would be an issue... UNTIL the came down to the boats and jumped over from the pier and promptly busted their rears on the damp or wet metal decks. Even with non skid... Hard sole Army boots made to last, were like Ice skates. The navy boots had softer rubber and less aggressive tread, and stuck like glue to non skid.
    Anyway I am still looking for 8inch boots, sending some rocky outbacks back, not enough toe box room. Tried Danners,,, god awful narrow , made for 3 toed lizard men I guess.

  15. #15

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    Vibram makes a wide variety of sole compounds by the way. Merrill must choose a harder one. I have some La Sportivas with Vibram soles that don’t slip at all—but they wear quicker.

    Maybe you could get your Merrill’s resolved with a grippier compound?

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    I like both Oboz and Keen's, various models. The Keen Targhee seems like a great choice, I do think their soles are pretty grippy. All that being said, I finally found my ideal hiking shoe, the Salomon XA3D model, pretty supportive (meaning a stiff sole) and they seem to hold up better than other trail runners I've tried. Good luck! finding size 14's must be tough.

    BTW: I have never liked the Merrell Moab's, though I do like other Merrell models, but alas, they keep discontinuing models that I do like (Chameleon's, for example).

    Footwear is soooooooo subjective, obviously.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post

    BTW: I have never liked the Merrell Moab's, though I do like other Merrell models, but alas, they keep discontinuing models that I do like (Chameleon's, for example).
    i loved the chameleon 7's but the 8's they made a small change and it didn't feel right. so i returned them last week and went back to the moabs after a fail attempt with hoka speedgoats

  18. #18

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    I found the Moabs ... predictable in their slippiness. I pretty much knew what they could and couldn't handle. That might have just been from familiarity. My Altras were lighter, dried faster, handled mud better, but wet rock considerably worse. I've also hit a lot of muddy steeps where I don't think any sole grip would have sufficed.

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