Trail running, hiking and backpacking is the tri-fecta of outdoor fun in the summer. With that in mind I set out to see if there was a trail shoe that could meet the unique demands of each pursuit. Check out my gear review on the Merrell MQM Flex hiking shoe to see how well it performed.
Gear Review : Merrell MQM Flex Hiking Shoes
By now many that follow my outdoor trips know that I am an advocate for lightweight gear which first and foremost begins with footwear. The shoes I wear need to be versatile to handle tough diverse terrain as I live in the Pacific Northwest which is hard on gear.
I also want a shoe that is lightweight as to not fatigue my feet or legs on a long day. (This is why I never wear boots hiking or on mountaineering approaches anymore.) I look for a flexible shoe that can move with my foot on varied terrain. That flex also allows me to feel the terrain better and move more efficiently.
Lastly my shoe needs to have superior traction with my typical hikes ranging from dry grippy rock to wet slippery tree roots. Would there be a single trail shoe that could handle everything I threw at it?
First Look Merrell MQM Flex Hiking Shoes
When my Merrel MQM Flex hiking shoes arrived at the house the very first thing I noticed was how incredibly light they were. At 544 grams for the pair they are exceptionally light with how much design and technical features are built into the shoe.
The next thing of course which I can’t help caring about is the color and look of a shoe. They have a very cool integration of the technical features into the aesthetics of the shoe with an eye catching color scheme. Yes I would (and was) more than happy to wear these walking around town and running errands as an everyday shoe.
Looking at the key benefits that Merrell states on their website the MQM Flex hiking shoe looks great if just going off their marketing department.
The men’s MQM FLEX shoe has all the tech you need for a fast, protective run or hike in the mountains. The hybrid FLEXconnect system gives you security with the Hyperlock molded TPU heel counter, and agility and stability with a dual-directional flex groove EVA midsole. An Air Cushion Viz high rebound EVA heel foam pod absorbs more shock than ever on tough terrain. The anatomical M Select GRIP+ outsole grips for superior traction, supported by 3.5mm lugs. Ventilated engineering on the mesh-and-TPU upper keep you cool while scaling the heights.
Putting the Merrell MQM Flex Trail Shoes to the Test
I have had plenty of time to put the Merrell MQM Flex hiking shoes through their paces. Wondering what MQM stands for ? Well Merrell created that acronym to describe what they built the shoe to do “Moving Quickly in the Mountains” and that is just what I tried to do.
My dog Echo and I really hammered the running and hiking portion of my test of the MQM Flex. Often I put a good 6-8 km a day just walking on top of the running and hiking with Echo. As well I put some good backpacking trips under my belt with my new Merrells with up to 35 lbs on my back.
The M-Select Grip is possibly on the way to becoming a much loved shoe grip of mine. After just the first few hikes I was able to relax into my hikes and runs knowing that I would have grip even in wet terrain.
For your standard walking path or well maintained trail flex might not be a big concern. Although in the mountains and alpine where I frequent the Flex-Connect system allowed good foot feel and feedback as you move.
The mesh and protective ballistic coated nylon as well as extended toe grip balances rugged protection and breathability. The shoe dried well moving through river crossings and even snowy terrain. The upside of a breathable shoe is it dries as quick as it gets wet.
One unexpected design feature I liked the Trail-Protect pad on the outer edge of the shoe. This design feature actually allowed me to kick step in some snow patches we had to traverse on an alpine mountaineering camp approach hike.
For the final challenge of the Merrell MQM Flex was scrambling and rocky terrain. With flat lug design and the flex of the shoe it gripped rocky terrain very well. Yet still had enough strength and rigidity to push off small rock outcroppings when holds start to get few and far between.
Final Thoughts on the Merrell MQM Flex Trail Shoes
I am a long time user of Salomon shoes and my previous all around versatile hiking shoe was from North Face. The Merrell MQM Flex was my first shoe from them and I was blown away with this shoe. It stood up to every test I put it through and did honestly live up to MQM, Moving Quickly in the Mountains.
I prefer the non-gtx breathable shoes in summer so my foot can breathe and not overheat which this shoe did well. I went with an 8.5 in the MQM Flex and often wear a 9 in Salomon 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.
Through all my testing the only thing I am watching closely is the outside of the shoe along where my little toe would be. I think the rubberized outer coating should have covered this spot completely. In abrasive terrain it has now started to show some wear on the ballistic nylon portion where the rubber coating wasn’t applied.
Pick up the Merrell MQM Flex if you want a bulletproof, dependable lightweight shoe that performs well in any situation. From hiking to trail running I am confident this shoe will meet your expectations.
Official Merrell MQM Flex Trail Shoe Specs and Details
• 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
• Weight: 1 lb 3oz / 544g
Retails for $149.99 (Canadian) and is available at Altitude Sports
Merrell MQM Flex Overview Video from Merrell
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