TAYLOR: If you have ever been hiking, you’ve heard of Merrell. They’re the Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson of the hiking world, coming off the top rope onto the silver screen. Sadly, Merrell’s running profile doesn’t amount to a WWF championship belt or an A-lister movie role. Which is a shame, because they are putting out some of the best trail shoes at an incredible value.
In 2020, the Merrell MTL Skyfire and Long Sky had our full attention here at BITR. In fact, the Skyfire became one of our favorites for running fast in the mountains. They included great touches like an incredible fit, durability, low weight, low cost, eco/vegan friendly, etc. Altogether simple and solid.
We’re barely into 2021 and Merrell is already pumping out more trail-ready options with many of those same quality aspects. Case in point – the all-new Moab Flight. Let’s check it out.
ALEX: This shoe is intended to build on the legacy of the popular Moab hiking boot. The Flight is a protective, cushioned trail runner designed to give you underfoot confidence in all conditions.
MATT: As a Merrell Fan Boi, I was stoked to get my hands on the new Moab Flight after my experiences with the Skyfire and Long Sky last year. Marketed as a cushioned and comfortable trail running extension of the Merrell Moab hiking boots, I’m always looking for more options for those long days on the trails.
TAYLOR: Since the Skyfire was such a dang good shoe, I’ve been practically begging our editor Robbe to get us more Merrells (my apologies to his family for all the late-night texts).
Anyways, Moab Flight! It’s got the goods. Initially, it reminded me a lot of the Skyfire. It fits into the category of a versatile trail runner. You could even think of it as a “trainer” when considering the Skyfire is a more minimal “racing” style shoe. In a lot of respects, the Moab Flight reminds me of the Salomon Sense Ride, Altra Timps, Inov-8 Trailroc, and even the Nike Wildhorse. It’s light (10.6 ounces for a Men’s 10.5), trail fortified and rolls along nicely.
Stepping in, there was a spacious feel throughout the shoe that really works. The woven jacquard upper wraps the foot for a soft but secure fit. A well-padded integrated tongue allows for a more adjustable fit too, wrenching of the laces isn’t necessary. I really appreciate the simple comfort of the shoe.
FloatPro is a recent addition to Merrell’s running line. It’s a lightweight and medium-density midsole that is, again, highly versatile. The Moab Flight has a decent slab of it (30-20mm heel-toe). I hammered out some uphill intervals, hit a half marathon’s worth of singletrack with 3 kilometers of gain and ran some easy dirt road miles. Every mile was smooth and comfortable thanks to the midsole. I’d go as far as to say it was even a little snappy!
The lack of a rock plate didn’t really matter either. FloatPro and a Vibram outsole were plenty protective underfoot. Cushion is the main aim of the shoe, so ground feel was minimal.
Keeping on with the versatile theme, a grippy Vibram EcoDura outsole provides solid grip on a variety of surfaces. I’ve found that any Vibram outsole is gonna do its job. The 3mm lugs ran well on packed dirt, were especially grippy on granite, and handled packed snow just fine. EcoDura reminded me a lot of the XS Trek outsole used on Topo’s Ultraventure and Runventure 3. A few limitations came when there was soft snow, but what can you expect from 3mm lugs?
I’m a big fan of Merrell’s dedication to utilizing vegan and recycled materials that can cut production energy and newly made materials by huge percentages. The upper, laces, inner liner, and outsole are made of recycled materials. Thank you, Merrell.
ALEX: This was my first experience with Merrell running shoes. Like most first encounters, there was intrigue, a small amount of doubt, and a little awkward small talk. I mean, you talk to your shoes too, right?
I received the Moab Flight with an open mind and no expectations. Comfortable right out of the box, my feet were right at home in this shoe. It was as if we had spent miles together. Despite my narrow feet, I appreciated the Flight’s roomy toe box. The heel collar was comfortable and offered a plush yet secure fit without having to lock down too hard with the laces.
Right out of the box, the first thing I noticed was how light the shoe was, weighing in at just 8.5 oz. I’m really excited about the current trend to swap out heavy, blister causing overlays for seamless designs. The Moab Flight’s traction is also a shining feature with a Vibram outsole and 3 mm lug depth.
I’m a big fan of the use of recycled materials in this shoe, including the laces and mesh liner.
MATT: Right out of the box, the Moab Flight was cushy and comfy. A woven mesh upper and inner liner gives the shoe more of a road trainer feel. This is a stark contrast to the stiff and rugged construction of the Merrell Agility Peak.
The Moab works great in part due to its sticky Vibram outsole. Despite a less aggressive design and lug pattern than on the Agility Peak or Skyfire, this version of the Merrell outsole feels plenty stable and secure across a variety of conditions.
Speaking of lugs, an advantage of the more conservative 3 mm set up on the Moab is that the shoe truly feels more versatile than some of the other Merrell models of late. Stretches of loose gravel, fire road and even blacktop felt fine on my legs.
The best comparison I’d give for the Moab Flight is the New Balance More Trail. While its midsole is not quite as thick and squishy, I could see the Moab Flight serving as a solid tweener/gravel shoe, allowing you to do everything from single track to road runs in wet/snowy situations.
One last note: kudos to Merrell for constructing a big portion of the shoe from recycled materials (laces, upper, liner).Shop Moab Flight – Men Shop Moab Flight – Women
TAYLOR: The Moab Flight comes to the trails with a 10 mm drop when very few trail shoes go over the 8mm mark. For the most part, I had no issues with it. I even had a hard time believing that it was a 10 mm drop.
Personally, I didn’t feel it until my runs went over 10 miles. Often, with shoes that have a drop between 10-14mm I start getting shin splints in my left leg. I didn’t feel this sensation until after a long trail run. If you’re like me, that’s the biggest drawback on this shoe.
ALEX: Overall the shoe looks good, but I’m not big on the pattern of the mesh upper. It’s just not edgy or exciting to me. And, as is often the case, I’m not a fan of the gender-assigned colors.
MATT: I think Merrell has done a solid job when it comes to the aesthetics of their recent shoes. However, I just don’t dig the look of the Moab Flight. It’s kinda earthly, feels like if L.L. Bean designed a trail shoe.Shop Moab Flight – Men Shop Moab Flight – Women
TAYLOR: Very few people could go wrong with this one. The Moab Flight isn’t anything revolutionary, but it’s a seriously good shoe. It has everything you need including a promising fit, versatile design, protection from the elements, and has the forethought of being eco-friendly. I haven’t even mentioned that they’re a very modest $110. The only potential drawback, for many, would be the higher heel-toe drop. Even I, someone who seems to be a little sensitive to high drop shoes, had a hard time feeling that difference.
ALEX: The stable, eco-conscious, Merrell Moab Flight will make a great addition to your rotation. The Vibram EcoDura outsole combined with the FloatPro midsole work together to support long days out on the trail and will perform well over a variety of terrain.
MATT: I like the Moab Flight. I’ll certainly be pulling these off the ever-expanding rack for a variety of days. There’s a lot of value in a shoe you can trust over big miles, but also be versatile enough that you can hit some fun, mixed terrain routes without worrying about the shoe’s limits.
You can pick up the Merrell Moab Flight by using the shop link below.Shop Moab Flight – Men Shop Moab Flight – Women