Review - Merrell MOAB2 Mid Gore-Tex Boots
Footwear is one of the important factors when operating in different environments. A night time insertion via canopy, followed by a march across hilly and rugged terrain with a weighted pack requires sturdy ankle supporting boots. A day strike in an urban setting to snatch a HVT likely asks for lightweight, manoeuvrable footwear such as that with low or mid support. SEAL Teams Bravo adapt to their environments using a mixture of brands and models.
The boots seen in SEAL Team are all real world, real military application boots, that are proven in a huge variety of terrains by US combat forces and other global combat forces. The majority of boots seen during these operational episodes are variations on core manufacturers. My previous blog 'SEAL Team - Behind the kit - Boots' covers the boots used across Bravo. These boots are currently being used by forces personnel worldwide and are recommended for use by civilians too. They are after all, only boots at the end of the day.
In short, the main boot manufacturers used by Bravo are Merrell and Salomon , with several other manufacturers also seen through the seasons.
Bravo as with operators in real life, can within limits choose and run their own gear, so naturally preferences are chosen and this is what gives the show and characters their individuality. Each member of Bravo has their own kit, their own style and it works for them, something likely instilled by those working on the show based on their backgrounds and experience. What I also like is the attention to detail regarding the exterior of the boots. If you look closely at some of the Salomon or Merrell boots used, those boots have the company logos (usually in yellow, red or white) on the side of the boots filled in with black marker, or the red 'contagrip' logo on the heel also blacked out, an eye for detail...
In this blog I'll be showcasing the Merrell MOAB2 Mid GTX in the Earth colour. This colour was chosen due to its flexibility to be used with AOR1 (NWU Type II) and AOR2 (NWU Type III) uniforms as shown below. I also threw in one of my favourites, the UCP (Universal Camouflage Pattern) for comparison.
Boots are one of the three key components (Armour, Boots, Protective Eyewear) of an operators loadout and due consideration should be given in regards to research and expenditure. Boots are an integral part of deployment and their style and capabilities should be matched where possible to the environment. Consider; where you will be going, for how long, equipment you'll be carrying and temperature. Time and effort spent researching will pay dividends when using your chosen boots. When researching boots, the below diagram is useful to identify key areas you want to focus on and ensure that your choice does or doesn't have depending on your situation. Make no compromises though as damage to your feet through a rolled ankle or worse can cause massive problems to the team and those around you.
History of Merrell
Merrell is a US footwear company created in 1981 with the intention of breaking into the hiking market creating durable, high performance, budget agreeing boots. As well as designing and manufacturing boots, it also creates and sells accessories and other related apparel. Further info / background can be found here on Wikipedia - Merrell.
For more info - visit Merrell website
Merrell is again another firm staple for boots across Bravo. The Merrell boots offer variety and styles mixed with ruggedness and comfort. I've purchased the Merrell MOAB (Mother-of-all-boots) 2 Mid GTX and can say that I'm very impressed with them so far after 9 months of usage.
The MOAB2 again has seen usage by a number of the team across the seasons and has been seen in the Pecan (tan) and Earth (brown) colour variant. In season 3, Jason is seen in the Afghan base wearing a pair of MOABs in the colour termed 'Beluga' (first image below). Thirty Mike was also seen in the same season wearing the MOABs in the 'Pecan' colour.
Merrell have a lot of yellow on their products, it's one of their signature marks that helps them stand out amongst the competitors and makes them identifiable at a glance. As with the Salomon range that Bravo use, if you look closely at any stills from the show, you can generally see the Merrell yellow letters / shapes are generally filled in with black sharpies to try and obscure the bright yellow. Details details details!
Herein lies the product description from the website;
Experience out-of-the-box comfort in GORE-TEX® hiking boots. With durable leathers, a supportive footbed, and Vibram® traction, the MOAB has been worn on the feet of nearly 20 million people since its inception.
• GORE-TEX® waterproof membrane, exceptional breathability and waterproof performance • Synthetic leather and mesh upper • Bellows, closed-cell foam tongue keeps moisture and debris out • Protective rubber toe cap • Breathable mesh lining • Merrell M Select™ FIT.ECO+ blended EVA contoured footbed with zonal arch and heel support • Molded nylon arch shank • Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability • EVA midsole for stability and comfort • Vibram® TC5+ sole • 5mm lug depth • Weight: 2lbs 1oz / 936g
The scoring is worth noting and I've included it below;
✩✩✩✩ 4.2 / 5 based on 279 reviews
39 out of 52 (75%) reviewers recommend the product
Merrell MOAB Models
Merrell manufacture a couple of variants of the MOAB; the Hiking boot (Mid) and the Hiking shoe (Ventilators). The Hiking boot has generally changed little externally but has seen changes internally focussing on the sole, cushioning, and protection for the wearers feet. The image below shows the two main Mid variants currently for sale; the MOAB2 and the MOAB FST. The MOAB2 is only available in GTX whilst the FST uses Merrells' own 'DRY' technology seals for waterproofing.
The colours available direct from Merrell are; Boulder, Black / Gum, Beluga, Black and Navy. If purchasing from other sources, the favoured colours used by Bravo are; Earth, Pecan and Beluga.
The boots were packaged in a 41 x 43 x 15 cm (L x W x H) simplistic card box. The box exterior is mixed black and orange and bears the Merrell logo on the top. On the front of the box is the product information including; model, size, product number etc.
The packaging interior was as expected, sparse. Other than the pair of boots and standard thin brown wrapping paper to protect the boots rubbing against each other, the only other item inside was a small pack of silica gel (worth keeping for use in a boot transport bag).
MOAB2 exterior in detail
There are a number of features of the purchased MOAB2 boots in the Earth variant that are worth exploring and I've broken these out in the below sections.
The upper is manufactured using GTX materials mixed with a synthetic leather that unlike traditional rigid leather is supple and conforms to the wearers foot whilst importantly providing rigidity and support to the ankle. The leather is used in conjunction with a number of breathable mesh segments (11 per side) that do provide cool off areas and are used to regulate temperature within the boot itself. The boot further has a rigid band running from left hand side of the toe toe around the heel, returning to the right hand side of the toe that is designed to compress the boot around the foot for a tight fit and help maintain the shape of the boot. On the exterior of the boot there is also a miniature Gore-Tex pin to identify it is GTX. Stitching is of high standard and is generally single stitched across all parts of the boots.
The tongue is manufactured using fabric GTX breathable material that encompasses closed cell foam cushioning, ensuring that it's comfortable when compressed against the front of the foot. The large V shaped tongue reduces the risk that when tightened, debris is not able to enter the boots. At the top centre of the tongue is the Merrell logo.
On the rear / inside of the tongue is the label bearing;
Merrell logo and QR scan code
Boot type manufactured for (sex)
Model variant number
Manufacture location - Vietnam
Sizes in US / UK / EUR / CM
The laces are threaded through the 12 fabric eyelets which are double sewn. This in my opinion is a positive regarding the eyelets due to previous experience of boots where laces over time are tightened and eyelets disengage from the boot which can be costly to repair. Centred above and behind the toecap is a further eyelet which helps to centre the laces when tied. On the collar of the boot are 2x metal U hooks around which the laces are tightened across the tongue. On the tongue in the centre under the Merrell logo there is a further eyelet which again ensures a flush fit. Removed from the boot (for cleaning), the laces measure 126cm each and replacements are cheap to purchase.
The toe features a protective rubber cap providing an extra layer of protection for the front of the boot and the toes against accidental kicks or damage. As can be seen there is an overlap of 4 layers at the toecap providing a deep and solid front for protection of toes.
The heel counter at the rear of the boot is an area of reinforced materials that provides stability to the wearer and protects the heels from knocks. In the middle there is a further additional pad of material designed to protect the heel area from knocks and catching on steps. At the top of the collar is a heel tab loop that can be used to pull the boots up and it's emblazoned with the Merrell logo.
The outsole is the bottom of the boot. For the MOAB2 they utilise Vibram soles which have been designed, re-designed and engineered to suit boots, trainers and shoes across the globe for all environments. The depth of the treads are approx 5mm. As shown in the images, the outsole has multiple angled lugs designed to dig into and grip onto all types of terrain.
MOAB2 interior in detail
The collar of the boot is manufactured using (as mentioned above), materials that encompass closed cell foam. The collar of the boot being approx 1" depth from top down into the boot is both spongy and comfortable around the foot when the boot is tightened.
Footbed / Inner sole
The MOAB2 is fitted with the FIT.ECO+ footbed which in simple terms can be described as Merrells' design for the removable footbed / inner sole and how it is shaped to cushion and protect from impacts. The footbed is comprised of EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) or in other words, padded foam. The arch area is supported through use of materials and the nylon shank (traditionally metal) which provides support and rigidity. This shank area also has multiple thin layers of material to aid in absorbing any shocks caused from underfoot. The heel area is cushioned as well, which is one of the areas where injuries occur frequently.
The insole inside is removable enabling you to replace when worn down with a new one or replace with orthotics if required.
The width of the boot is above average. Generally you can purchase boots that are narrow, standard or wide depending on foot size and shape. When 2 layers of socks are worn, the added comfort inside is fantastic.
The MOAB2 boots were purchased to a) provide me with a suitable and rugged pair of boots which could be used across different environments and b) form a part of the screen accurate SEAL team loadout. Straight out of the box as many others have noted, they are comfortable to wear and don't have that 'stiff new boots' feel, thanks in part to the comfortable cushioning and design of the boot. The boots have been used for approx 9 months and have traversed approx 100+ miles. The exterior of the boots have not shown signs of wear or tear (as expected for short distance covered). The underside of the boots whilst slightly worn have not shown signs of splaying / cracking or damage. The boots have been worn in a standard temperate environment in; urban, scrubland, light woodland and dense forest on tracked and non-tracked paths. They've also been worn in a variety of weather conditions which have been recorded below. The weight did have an impact during use on the longer walks especially when conducted in muddy / swampy conditions.
The boots performed as expected in light rain with no leaks or anything of note. The mid exterior and collar prevented any splashed water entering the boot.
In heavy rain over a sustained period of 3 hours walking, the boots did not leak, however due to heat of foot and movement, the interior of the boot did warm up causing feet and socks to become ever so slightly damp. With Gore-Tex material it is not very breathable at all, therefore when heat is generated inside a GTX lined area, heat has limited places to escape from and can over prolonged periods of time become an issue.
The boots performed well as expected with no issues.
With the multi angled lugs on the sole of the boot, climbing over rocky terrain was easy and there were minimal slips whilst moving. The mid ankle support was helpful and prevented ankle rolling several times. Feet felt flexible in a Mid rather than rigid / stuck in a standard high boot.
Hilly / Mountainous terrain
As above, over prolonged periods of time and going up / down gradients the boots did become heavy, however nothing else of note was recorded.
Swampy / wet terrain
Due to the boots weight at 468 grams per boot, if worn when in a swampy /wetland area they can become heavy quickly. They did when worn with wet clay underfoot become covered and clay stuck to the boot causing them to increase in weight. A 5 minute stop and stick to remove excess clay did solve the problem.
One key thing to lengthen the life of boots and prevent damage is to clean and protect them after use. It's recommended that after light use, a soft brush be used to remove light / excess dirt and dust. After heavy use the boots can be washed using warm water along with a small quantity of soap.
Personally after use I let any excess mud dry, brush it with a stiff brush (toothbrush), then washed the boots in warm water with no soap using a soft brush. The entire boot needs to be cleaned including the sole and if possible any small stones between lugs removed so as to not cause damage over a prolonged period. Further to the above, after heavy use I remove and wash the laces and ensure that the tongue area is also cleaned. The boots are then left to air dry at room temperature. I recommend to not use radiators or airing cupboards to speed up the process as this can potentially damage the exterior of the boots.
For the interior I remove the insole, air dry and then use a soft brush to remove any excess mud and lint.
Thoughts and opinion
Boots are a main staple to your loadout and what you choose to wear is down to personal preference, environment, cost, aesthetics and reviews. Different environments require different boots and whilst one brand may provide sturdy support in a jungle, the lightweight mids or trainers may best suited for an urban area. I've used a variety of boots over my career, previously favouring the various iterations of the Lowa Seekers and up until now haven't used any US based boots. However, wanting to perfect the Bravo team loadout I purchased the Merrell MOAB2 and haven't looked back since! Looking to the local UK weather, a Gore-Tex boot is a must for winter and lightweight non GTX are best for the summer, but again it comes down to personal preference. Boots are often overlooked and lots of people buy a second hand ex military pair, then soon after buy a more expensive pair. The honest advice is, like protective eyewear, take the time to read reviews, speak to other users, trial and then invest. This way you're basing your choice on sound reasoning and will likely choose boots that will last and be comfortable, something you want, especially if you're in them for 8+ hours a day. The Merrell MOAB2s are a fantastic addition to my kit and having tested them I'd certainly recommend them to those wanting boots not sourced from the UK as being; of great build quality, fairly priced and usable in a multitude of environments.
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I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.