Merrell MQM FLEX Walking Boot
Product Review & Walking Gear Test
MQM FLEX Walking Boot
Merrell says:"Inspired by athletes and made for you, this hybrid packs all the technology needed for Moving Quickly in the Mountains™ into one fast, protective shoe."
Features to Note:
- Mesh and TPU upper
- Traditional lace closure
- Bellows tongue keeps debris out
- Breathable mesh lining
- Hyperlock™ printed TPU film heel counter for security
- EVA removable footbed
- FLEXconnect™ dual-directional flex-groove EVA midsole for agility and stability
- Merrell Air Cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
- TrailProtect™ pad offers additional support off road
- M Select™ GRIP outsole tunes each outsole with durable traction that grips when and where you need it
- 3.5mm lug depth
Despite our mantra over the years on these pages that you must wear proper walking boots in the UK mountains, there is a growing trend for people to wear trail-running shoes for walking and hiking. I first became aware of this a number of years ago when on a guided walking trip in the Canadian Rockies. While all of my fellow (British) walkers where shod in good quality walking boots, our extremely competent (French Canadian) guides were both wearing lightweight shoes like the Merrell MQM FLEX. So I've been keen since then to try some out in the UK mountains ever since.
The Merrell MQM Flex is a hybrid shoe, which tries to combine a walking & hiking shoe, a trail-running shoe and an approach shoe all into one. I am not a trail runner, so I spent a week Munro Bagging on the Knoydart peninsula in North West Scotland testing them out on the long approach walks and tough mountain terrain.
First impression of the Merrell MQM Flex suggested that the sole is pretty stiff and might even take a crampon. However, after an hour on the rough, stony paths, the sole became quite flexible and pliable. The heel cup is nice and solid but I did find the padding around it to be pretty thin and there was little cushioning between my feet and the soles. While the heel is kept nice and snug, there is a generous toe box.
Having said that though they are very comfortable and extremely lightweight and I really started to like wearing them once I had got used to it. They felt sure and stable on all sorts terrain. Furthermore, the lacing system tightened evenly around my mid-foot area and the laces stayed tied up and nice & tight all day.
They are not however, as lightweight as Merrell claim. There Merrell website suggests that they weigh 544g (1 lb 3oz) but when I weighed the size UK 10.5 on my kitchen scales they came in at 710g (1 lb 9oz). Still lightweight, but I'm a bit puzzled by this anomaly.
The sole only has 3.5mm lugs but the pattern and arrangement gave me pretty good traction on all types of terrain and I felt nice and secure both going up and down pretty steep terrain.
Now, when it comes to waterproofness and keeping the water out I want to be very clear about this - they don't. At all.
When crossing streams or inadvertently stepping into mountain bog, the meshed upper immediately took on water and soaked my feet. At first sight this might seems like a real drawback but ironically, the Merrell MQM Flex also dried out very quickly in the sunny and warm weather. This was a welcome relief after spending many a day in the mountains wearing damp walking boots that refuse to dry out - even overnight.
For me this is a distinct improvement on my normal experiences but I would not consider wearing them in anything other than dry, warm weather. The mesh also means they allow good ventilation and enable my feet to breathe throughout the day - another improvement.
The Merrell MQM Flex are well fitting, lightweight and comfortable with enough support and protection for both full day hikes and ultralight backpacking - but only when the weather is warm and sunny. Quite a bit heavier than advertised but still very lightweight. See Merrell MQM for more details and stockists.
Have you got a Merrell MQM FLEX Walking Boots?
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