Supportive hiker for heat, stream crossings, and downpours
Finding outdoor footwear designed without a waterproof-breathable layer can be like hunting hens’ teeth. Hot, sweaty days on the trail in GORE-TEX footwear are an invitation for athlete’s foot, and anyone who has forded a creek or been caught out in a thunderstorm in them knows that GORE-TEX boots keep water in almost as well as they keep it out!
Fortunately, the folks at Merrell have kept those of us in need of a boot that breathes, drains, and dries in mind. Their remedy comes in the form of the new Moab Peak Ventilator model.
Built for the hills, the boot offers above the ankle construction for support, a stiff midsole to reduce fatigue, and the protection of a toe bumper.
I have been in my pair for most days of the week since their arrival in early June, and there is nary a stitch out of place thus far. This is a boot with a lot of stitching, though, and that doesn’t always bode well over the long haul. The decision to go with lace loops over eyelets or hooks introduces another potential issue. In my experience, a lace loop tear is the first non-repairable failure on any boot that includes the feature.
I was concerned that the extensive use of mesh in the boot’s construction would lead to serious water retention issues, but several dousings and downpours have largely allayed my fears. The EVA beneath the insole does seem to hold onto a bit of moisture. Nightly removal of the insole helps a lot in that regard, as does an overnight stuffing with old newsprint when the option is available.
Outsole design always involves a tradeoff between grippy and quick-wearing or slippery and long-lasting. The designers of this model have found a nice compromise between the two poles, IMHO.
I switched out the factory insole for my favorite aftermarket model, but the original is not half bad so far as such things go.
I have been very pleased with my experience in these boots to date. I rate them a 4 out of 5 after ten weeks of use on a practically daily basis. MSRP is $140 at the Merrell product page. If you are in the market for a Gore-Tex free boot to last at least a single season and possibly two, the Moab Ventilator Pro has given me every indication of being an excellent investment.