With the shift and adoption of lightweight trail runners and hiking shoes in the outdoors, Merrell has stepped up to be a leader in the market segment. The latest offering is the Merrell MQM Ace Mid hiking shoe for even more demanding mountain terrain.
Gear Review : Merrell MQM Ace Mid Hiking Shoe
As my adoption of lightweight trail, hiking and alpine footwear continues into its third year I continue to explore my footwear needs. If you recall I did a thorough review of my Merrell MQM Flex Trail Shoes last year.
Since my review last year we have now hit a full year of hard use. “Would there be a single trail shoe that could handle everything I threw at it?” was the question I asked as I did the review and set out to enjoy my new trail runners.
I used the shoe for alpine summits, long overnight hikes, walking my dog and a great deal of trail running. Recently for the runs and hikes I did record on Strava it shows that I have put 551km on them. The MQM flex trail has been an incredible shoe with plenty of life left in it.
First Look at the Ace Mid
I pulled the shoes out of the box and once again Merrell has created an exceptionally light hiking shoe. At 792 grams for the pair they are exceptionally light with how much design and technical features are built into them. They look like a boot but with the weight of a runner.
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. ~ marketing description from Merrells official website
The next thing I noticed compared to my MQM flex from the previous year is that they heavily built up the reinforcement of the front of the shoe. The toe box and sides of the shoe have an externalized rubber abrasion protection. After that the heel has a beefier stabilization system which they call their Hypercage.
Of course the big difference is that these shoes are more designed like a boot with a higher mid cut design providing more ankle protection. I was looking forward to this for my spring outings where snow is still an issue on the trail. This combined with the waterproof features of the shoe moisture is not a huge concern.
Putting the Ace Mid to the Test
This spring outdoor season has had some wonderful weather and I’m excited that I found a great deal of time to capitalize on it. This allowed me to get out many times and put the Merrell acronym MQM “Moving Quickly in the Mountains” to the test with the Ace Mids.
The biggest challenge that I put the Ace Mids to was in no small part thanks to them being a hydrid boot style shoe in a mid cut design. This allowed me to do some serious snow hikes with my MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes while wearing them. The strengthened body of the shoe, the mid cut and a good set of gaiters combine with my snowshoes and they performed like boots.
When not on the snow the shoes grip the terrain extremely well, the Vibram soles and well thought out design grip like glue. A smart move was adding a rigid rock protector section into the sole design to protect the bottom of your foot from sharp rocky terrain while moving fast.
Oddly my most demanding test of a shoe is how they lace up. My foot on impact really flattens out as I step. This requires me to keep the mid foot a bit looser while locking in my ankle and then leaving the top lace a bit looser for mobility. I can report back with two thumbs up as once I had my lacing dialed they remained consistent with the tension and did not come undone or shift.
Final Thoughts on the MQM Ace Mid
The Merrell MQM Ace Mid passed all challenges I could throw at it with flying colors. My feet remained comfortable on all my trips with only a slight hotspot on my little toe after a single day 27km push in them. A serious challenge for any hiking shoe regardless of manufacturer.
The waterproofing worked very well in all manners of terrain and conditions. My feet did get wet eventually after a 10 hour day a few times but that was a combination of sweat and the deep snow I encountered.
I went with the 8.5 in the Merrell MQM Ace Mid and fit just like my 8.5 MQM Flex. I often wear a 9 in Salomons so the Merrells fit a touch on the larger side. The toe box across the widest part of the shoe is on the wider side so if you have a very narrow foot be mindful.
The shoes crushed it in the traction department, never once was I concerned about footing and could trust the shoe completely. The laces allowed me to adjust tension in specific zones and seemed to maintain through the hike. As well the laces didn’t come untied or loosen off.
I have yet to discover anything I don’t particularly like about these shoes and if something does arise I will be sure to update this review.
Pick up the Merrell MQM Ace Mid hiking shoes if you want a bulletproof, dependable lightweight shoe (boot) that performs well in any situation. From short hikes to treks and alpine adventures I am confident this shoe will meet your expectations.
Official Merrell MQM Ace Mid Hiking Shoe Specs and Details
• M Select™ DRY impermeable membrane seals out water and lets moisture escape
• Engineered mesh and TPU upper
• Hook and lace-to-toe lacing for secure fit
• Floating Hypercage™ for lightweight support
• Breathable mesh lining
• M Select™ FRESH antimicrobial agents reduces shoe odor
• Merrell Air Cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
• Merrell Kinetic Fit™ BASE removable contoured insole for flexible support
• Compression molded EVA midsole for stability and comfort
• FLEXconnect™ dual-directional flex-grooves in EVA midsole for agility and stability
• TrailProtect™ rock plate protects feet from underfoot debris
• Vibram® Megagrip®
• 4 mm lug depth
• Weight: 1lb 12oz / 792g
The Merrell MQM Ace Mid hiking shoe retails for $209.99 (Canadian) and is available at Altitude Sports
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