Man wearing Merrell hiking shoes

Merrell vs Salomon – Who Makes the Most Comfortable Hiking Shoes?

In this post, I am looking at a comparison between Merrell and Salomon hiking shoes. In general, both manufacture good quality shoes, but which are best in different hiking environments and for different feet, bodies, and gaits.

Fortunately, quite a few hiking footwear brands design shoes that are durable, supportive, and, above all, genuinely comfortable. Merrell and Salomon are two such brands: they are held in high regard by millions of outdoor enthusiasts worldwide due to the premium quality of their footwear products. 

But which one of these two companies produces more comfortable hiking shoes? Let’s take a closer look at the histories and manufacturing processes of these two brands – as well as their most popular products – and, in that way, determine which one makes the best hiking shoes

Merrell – A General Overview 

Merrell shoes on a white backdrop

The Background 

Founded in the early 1980s in the US, this brand is a product of a vision of three guys – Clark Matis, John Schweizer, and Randy Merrell. 

The main reason why this company had such a successful start is due to the expertise possessed by all three. While John and Clark had a lot of experience when it came to traversing the hinterlands, Randy knew everything there was to know about making quality footwear. 

As you can already guess, the guys’ primary focus was to design shoes and boots that wouldn’t only provide top-notch performance and be as comfortable as possible and affordable to average buyers. 

As is usually the case with all famous footwear brands, Merrell slowly expanded its business throughout the years and now also manufactures various kinds of products, all of which are essential for safe and comfortable backcountry exploration. 

Today, Merrell is a well-known brand that continues to design, manufacture, and sell some of the best hiking shoes. Moreover, many of these shoes are affordable as well, giving the brand an edge over its competition. 

The Manufacture

It goes without saying that hiking shoes that are both comfortable and supportive cannot be made without premium-quality materials. And while it’s true that Merrell does use such materials, it should also be pointed out that the brand tries to stay as sustainable as possible when using them. 

In other words, Merrell manufactures genuinely well-made footwear that can last for years, which, as you can already guess, lessens the impact on the environment. 

The materials used by the company are both natural and synthetic. This includes options created from leather and textiles based on nylon and polyester. Also, most of the brand’s footwear products are equipped with convenient mesh linings, which aim to add much-needed breathability and ventilation. 

When it comes to Merrell’s in-house manufacturing technologies, the most remarkable one is undoubtedly M-Select Dry. This is the brand’s own version of Gore-Tex – a waterproof membrane that keeps the water at bay while still allowing the hiker’s feet to breathe. 

Still, I think it’s worth pointing out that the brand also uses Gore-Tex, just like most other well-esteemed footwear companies. It can be found in Merrell’s shoes designed for rough conditions and long-distance walks. 

Merrell also uses a third-party solution called Vibram for its outsoles. Furthermore, it has some proprietary outsole solutions, such as the Arctic Grip Sole. This particular outsole is often found in the brand’s boots and shoes intended to be used on extremely difficult terrains. 

Finally, Merrell is well-known for its Kinetic Fit Insole, one of the best insoles in the entire hiking footwear industry. Needless to say, the Kinetic Fit Insole provides the heel and arch of the user’s foot with exceptional support. I should also mention the M-Select Fit technology, which aims to make those long-distance hikes as comfortable as possible. 

The Prices 

As I stated above, Merrell is quite well-known for the affordable prices of its products. Some of the company’s boots and shoes are expensive – they can cost up to $250 as they provide phenomenal comfort, protection, and grip. However, most of the company’s less-technical options can be obtained at about $80. 

Regardless of how expensive or cheap they are, all of Merrell’s footwear products are absolutely worth their prices. The brand’s range of hiking shoes is extensive, and there’s something for everyone’s budget. If you want to check out more brands like Merrell, see our Merrell vs Oboz comparison.

Merrell – Popular Products 

Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes 

Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Hiking Shoes

Specifications:

  • Weight: 2.34 lbs 
  • Dimensions: 10” x 15” x 6”   
  • Colors Available: 8 

An excellent choice for cold-weather excursions into the backcountry, these Merrell shoes offer what most outdoor enthusiasts need at a competitive price. 

In terms of construction, it features a Vibram TC5+ outsole, a molded nylon arch shank, an EVA midsole, and an upper that combines Merrell’s proprietary M-Select Dry waterproof membrane with synthetic mesh and suede leather. 

I think it’s pretty safe to say that this shoe is very comfortable as long as it’s used on easy to moderate trails. I liked its spacious toe box and the fact that Moab 2 Waterproof requires no break-in period. 

However, it’s not the best choice if you’re looking for a pair of lightweight hiking shoes – a pair size 11 weighs 2.34 pounds. On the other hand, I have only words of praise when it comes to traction: the aforementioned Vibram TC5+ outsole genuinely excels at its job. 

Pros:

  • Comfortable on easy and moderate trails 
  • Durable construction 
  • Superb traction

Cons:

  • Heavy

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Hiking Shoes 

Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator Hiking Shoes 

Specifications: 

  • Weight: 2.20 lbs 
  • Dimensions: 10” x 15” x 6” 
  • Colors Available: 18  

Here we have yet another member of the Moab family and one of Merrell’s best-selling footwear products – the Moab 2 Ventilator hiking shoes. 

The most significant difference between this shoe and the one described above (Moab 2 Waterproof) is that this one features no water-resistant membrane. As such, the model is unsuitable for stream crossing and similar encounters with water. 

The rest of the construction, however, is almost identical to the Moab 2 Waterproof – there’s a Vibram TC5+ outsole, a nylon shank, an EVA midsole, and the mesh/leather upper. All these materials make the shoe quite durable and allow it to hold on its own during moderate day hikes. 

Once again, the toe box is spacious and takes little time to break in these shoes, although they have a somewhat looser fit. Finally, Moab 2 Ventilator effortlessly grips most surfaces and provides above-average traction. 

Pros:

  • Unmatched breathability 
  • Out-of-the-box comfort 
  • Very supportive

Cons:

  • Not waterproof

Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes 

Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes 

Specifications: 

  • Weight: 1.56 lbs 
  • Dimensions: 10” x 15” x 6”
  • Colors Available: 1

Unlike the two models described above, this Merrell hiking shoe is designed for those outdoor enthusiasts willing to sacrifice comfort and support for low weight. 

The low weight is definitely the primary selling point of this hiking shoe – a pair size 10.5 weighs only 1.56 pounds. It is made of exceptionally lightweight materials and is an excellent option when ounces are a top priority. 

Unfortunately, this comes at a cost. While it’s true that there are a lot of comfortable hiking shoes in Merrell’s catalog, the Moab Speed shoes are not among them. Don’t get me wrong – they are well-cushioned. However, they also have a somewhat loose and sloppy fit. While testing, I experienced quite a bit of foot slippage within this shoe. 

The traction, on the other hand, is excellent. Merrell Moab Speed has deep lugs that provide a superb grip on wet vertical surfaces. And regarding durability, I noticed no signs of wear and tear during the testing period. 

Pros:

  • Genuinely lightweight hiking shoes 
  • Excellent traction 
  • Decent durability

Cons:

  • A somewhat wonky fit

Merrell Moab Flight Hiking Shoes 

Merrell Moab Flight Hiking Shoes

Specifications: 

  • Weight: 1.21 lbs 
  • Dimensions: 13.07” x 8.43” x 4.96”
  • Colors Available: 10 

The last Merrell hiking shoe I’ll be taking a closer look at looks like a trail runner but works much better for long-distance hiking due to its poor traction. 

The thin 3mm lugs found on these shoes won’t help those planning to traverse muddy routes or run on the trails with loose rocks. However, they absolutely thrive on dry and firm hiking trails, where they provide a very comfortable and smooth ride. 

The wide platform of Moab Speed is sufficiently stable for hiking and light jogging. Its thickly-padded midsole, on the other hand, provides the aforementioned comfort on the trail, while the low weight (1.21 pounds for pair 9) keeps the fatigue at bay. 

Other features worth mentioning are the very breathable all-mesh upper and the well-padded tongue that wraps the upper foot. Moab Flight is a great choice if you’re someone who often hikes in hot climates. 

Pros:

  • Very breathable – great for hot climates 
  • A comfortable & stable platform 
  • Exceptionally lightweight

Cons:

  • Not the best traction

Salomon – A General Overview 

Man wearing Salomon shoes

The Background 

Established in the late 1940s in France, Salomon remains one of the planet’s most celebrated hiking shoe brands. The company started out as a saw blade-making business, and today, it designs, manufactures, and sells all types of outdoor equipment – from apparel to footwear. 

Now, you may be wondering – how did this simple metal working shop become a globally-acclaimed apparel & footwear brand? The answer is quite simple: one of Salomon’s most popular products was the steel edge for skis. While manufacturing these, the guys working at Salomon also developed their own ski binding straps. 

One thing led to another, and the company slowly expanded its range of products intended for outdoor activities. Nowadays, Salomon is primarily renowned for its skiing, hiking, trail running, snowboarding, and adventure racing apparel and gear. It offers options for men, women, and children, as well as for different ages. 

The Manufacture 

Just like in the case of its rival, Salomon’s footwear products are created from a plethora of different materials. It goes without saying that Salomon chooses which materials it will use to manufacture a particular product based on the kind of activity it will be used for. 

In terms of performance, the brand’s footwear ranges extensively. On one hand, Salomon offers rugged hiking shoes that can be used for long walks over rough backcountry terrain. On the other, it offers genuinely nimble and lightweight shoes that are suitable for those who prefer comfort over protection. 

And to make all those footwear products, the company utilizes many different materials and manufacturing techniques. However, just like in the case of Merrell, it also relies on various technologies – both third-party and in-house – to ensure high performance and premium build quality of finished products. 

The most famous out of all third-party technologies used by Salomon is undoubtedly Gore-Tex. This high-performing waterproof membrane is used by several other brands, including Merrell, primarily due to its remarkable breathability and weather resistance. 

I should also point out that many Salomon hiking shoes come equipped with Contagrip TD outsoles. This outsole is built to provide above-average traction, and that’s precisely what it does. Due to its innovative pattern, it provides hikers who use Salomon shoes with much-needed stability while they’re traversing rugged terrain. 

The OrthoLite insole technology also deserves a mention. As its name suggests, this particular technology aims to make one’s walks as comfortable as possible by providing exceptional cushioning to the foot. The OrthoLite insoles are also very breathable. 

And those are just some of Salomon’s (very innovative) technologies in footwear. Advanced Chassis and SensiFit also deserve a mention, among others. 

Finally, most of Salomon’s shoes come equipped with gusseted tongues – these are supposed to keep the dirt out of the shoes as you walk. A vast majority of the brand’s hiking shoes also sport protective toecaps. 

The Prices 

The prices of Salomon’s hiking shoes are somewhat similar to those of Merrell, with the exact cost depending on the features and the overall design of a particular shoe or boot. Some of the brand’s models can cost as much as $200, while some can be obtained for as “little” as $90. 

Does it make sense to spend money on Salomon’s hiking shoes? Once we consider the quality and comfort offered by these products, we come to a very simple conclusion – it absolutely does. I should also point out the existence of an online consensus that Salomon’s hiking shoes are among the best in terms of comfort and performance.

For more cool hiking gear, check out our post on the best gifts for hikers.

Salomon – Popular Products 

Salomon Outline GTX Hiking Shoes 

Salomon Outline GTX shoes

Specifications: 

  • Weight: 1.62 lbs 
  • Dimensions: 13” x 9” x 5” 
  • Colors Available: 3

Supportive, waterproof, and very comfortable, this particular Salomon hiking shoe is an excellent choice for almost all types of conditions and terrains. 

An easy ride across gravel and hard-packed dirt are guaranteed due to the presence of EVA midsoles and OrthoLite insoles. Also, Outline GTX is surprisingly breathable, although it features a waterproof lining. 

On the other hand, the traction is very reliable – this shoe’s multi-tiered lugs made out of Contagrip rubber effortlessly grab all types of surfaces. The aforementioned waterproof lining is made out of Gore-Tex (hence the “GTX” in the model’s name) and it does its job pretty well. 

The only thing I didn’t like was the somewhat narrow fit. While this is precisely what makes the Outline GTX a phenomenal choice for hikers with slender feet, it can make sizing quite tricky.   

Pros:

  • Perfect for folks with slender feet 
  • Waterproof – keep the feet dry 
  • Outstanding traction

Cons:

  • Narrow fit

Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX Hiking Shoes 

Salomon X Ultra 3 GTX Hiking Shoes 

Specifications: 

  • Weight: 1.62 lbs 
  • Dimensions: 13” x 9” x 5”
  • Colors Available: 3 

A member of Salomon’s X Ultra line, this shoe is one of the brand’s best-selling products. However, this shouldn’t be surprising at all – the model manages to hold up through extended rough use, grips well on all surfaces, and is also nimble and lightweight. 

As its name suggests, this popular hiking shoe sports a Gore-Tex membrane. I tested it by walking through a shallow stream, holding it up without a hiccup. 

In terms of traction, X Ultra 3 GTX provides phenomenal performance in snow, hard-packed dirt, and soft mud. These shoes are also extraordinarily stable – you’ll experience no problems with rolled ankles while carrying a heavy backpack. 

The only thing I didn’t like is that the Gore-Tex liner can run quite warmly. If you often hike in dry areas, go with the non-GTX variant. 

Pros:

  • Remarkable traction & stability 
  • Top-notch waterproofing 
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • The GTX liner runs warm

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX Hiking Shoes 

Salomon X Ultra 4 GTX Hiking Shoes 

Specifications: 

  • Weight: 1.62 lbs 
  • Dimensions: 14” x 9” x 5”
  • Colors Available: 4 

A successor to the model reviewed above, the X Ultra 4 GTX is an almost perfect hiking shoe. Its only drawback is the single-pull Quicklace system – unlike the traditional lacing designs, this one doesn’t allow users to customize the fit. 

The shoe is comfortable out of the box, sporting a moderately flexible construction. There is ample padding everywhere – from the underfoot area to the tongue. 

Like most other Salomon hiking shoes, this one also sports the brand’s in-house Contagrip outsole. The large lugs effortlessly bite into all sorts of surfaces. On the other hand, the model’s broad base provides stability and gives a solid, planted feel. 

The combination of a DWR coating and the Gore-Tex liner keeps water at bay, making the shoe less breathable. If breathability is important to you, keep in mind that the non-GTX version is also available. 

Pros:

  • Ample padding guarantees top-notch comfort 
  • First-class traction (Contagrip outsole) 
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • The Quicklace system isn’t for everyone

Salomon X Raise GTX Hiking Shoes 

Salomon X Raise GTX Hiking Shoes 

Specifications: 

  • Weight: 1.37 lbs 
  • Dimensions: 13” x 9” x 5”
  • Colors Available: 1 

The last Salomon hiking shoe I’ll be taking a look at is the X Raise GTX, a model inspired by trail runners and one that provides all-around comfort due to its excellent cushioning. 

Fortunately, this hiking shoe isn’t only comfortable, highly durable, and protective. The TPU reinforcements around the toe area deserve a special mention – these will absorb impacts and protect your feet from sharp rocks. 

As its name suggests, this shoe is waterproof (Gore-Tex lining) and surprisingly breathable. Stellar support and stability are also guaranteed, and the same can be said for traction – X Raise GTX is very reliable on rocky and muddy trails. 

But still, the comfort that this shoe provides is its greatest strength. With X Raise GTX, you’ll have no issues with blisters or hotspots. 

Pros:

  • Standout cushioning – as comfortable as it gets 
  • Flexible but durable construction 
  • Very protective

Cons: 

  • Extra padding increases drying time

Merrell vs Salomon – The Verdict 

Salomon shoe

So, which one of these two brands should you go with? As usual, there’s no clear-cut answer to this kind of question. Merrell and Salomon design, manufacture, and sell very comfortable hiking shoes. 

If you’re looking for good quality but also affordability, Merrell is the best choice. The brand’s hiking shoes are celebrated for their comfort and low weight. It should also be pointed out that Merrell provides a wide range of options thanks to its numerous in-house technologies in its designs.  

However, go with Salomon if you’re one of those outdoor enthusiasts who prefer feature-rich trekking shoes suitable for long hikes in the rugged backcountry. Salomon simply provides better options when the price is less of a consideration. The company is world-famous for its high-performing boots and shoes, so if you’re leaning towards technical designs, definitely choose Salomon.