The hiking shoe space is packed with good options, and the technology improves each year. Merrell’s MQM Flex 2 Low hiking shoe is a standout in the crowd. I tested the shoe against four other popular hiking shoes, and it was the winner.
The Merrell MQM Flex 2 Low Hiking Shoe is a comfortable, stable hiking shoe that strikes a wonderful balance between on-trail performance and lightweight comfort. The shoe is capable of satisfying the demands of both serious thru-hikers and casual day hikers. The shoe offers enough protection underfoot to tackle rocky terrain. While the shoe has ample padding in the uppers, it is not too heavy and works as a trail runner.
I tested the shoe for more than two months and logged in about 50 miles so far on trails near my home in Texas and during hikes in Italy. Here are the results of all of that testing.
Are Merrell MQM Flex 2 Low Hiking Shoes Comfortable?
Straight out of the box, I walked 6 miles in these shoes and had zero issues with hot spots, blisters, or discomfort with my feet. It was about 90F that day, and my feet remained dry and pain-free.
I spent a month walking in five different pairs of hiking shoes, and the Merrell MQM Flex 2 was the most comfortable. You can check out my review on YouTube.
In terms of comfort, the Merrell MQM Flex 2 Low Hiking Shoe outperformed the Danner Trail 2650 Campo and the Salomon OUTline GTX in my testing. The MQM Flex 2 is true to size and is a shoe that will fit most feet. The Trail 2650 Campo and the OUTline GTX run very narrow and have footbed shapes that did not work for my feet.
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Do the Merrell MQM Flex 2 Provide Good Traction?
One of the tests I performed on the Merrell MQM Flex 2 hiking shoes was grip or traction. You can see the results below for these shoes against four other popular hiking shoes. Only the super sticky Vibram Megagrip compound on the Danner Trail 2650 Campo performed better than the Quantum Grip technology of the MQM Flex 2.
|Danner Trail 2650 Campo||First Place|
|Merrell MQM Flex 2||Second Place|
|Keen Targhee Vent||Tied Third Place|
|Oboz Sawtooth 2||Tied Third Place|
|Salomon OUTline GTX||Fourth Place|
The test was performed in my garage on polished concrete. While holding on to a suspension strap trainer fixed to the ceiling, I leaned back with my body straight and slowly inched my feet forward until the shoes started to slip. I repeated this for each show multiple times. This is original research that other reviews probably do not incorporate.
The Merrell MQM Flex 2 incorporates the Quantum Grip outsole rubber compound. This solution is a very soft rubber compound that gives and flexes quite easily. The lugs on the shoe’s bottom are relatively tall, and they easily move and deform with light pressure.
This solution from Merrell provides excellent grip and traction but will probably not provide much longevity. I noticed some wear on the lugs almost from day one. At about $100 per pair, though, you can afford to replace these more frequently than other more expensive hiking shoes on the market.
On the trail, the MQM Flex 2 performs very well. I hiked along some rocky paths in Italy recently and had great control for both stability and traction. MQM stands for moving through mountains quickly, and with these, you start to believe on your feet.
Do Merrell MQM Flex 2 Provide Good Trail Protection?
Whether you are hiking or especially if you are trail running, foot protection is a crucial consideration when purchasing a shoe. Six years ago, while jogging in Italy, I struck a pointed rock and developed Plantar Fasciitis. I was not wearing trail runners, but just regular running shoes. If you plan to run on trails, you must buy a trail runner or nimble hiking shoes.
I tested the Merrell MQM Flex 2 for protection underfoot, and they performed adequately against four other hiking shoes. They were not the stand-out shoe, but the competition was heavy, and some of the shoes had more boot DNA and thicker, beefier rubber soles.
Like many trail runners or hiking shoes, the Merrell MQM Flex 2 has a harder rubber plate, or rock plate, between the outsole and the midsole to protect your feet from sharp objects such as rocks.
I found that the Danner Trail 2650 Campo provided more protection, while the Salmon OUTline GTX provided less than the MQM Flex 2.
In any case, the solution provided by MQM Flex 2 works, and whether running or hiking, you should not have any issues with injury to the bottom of your feet from sharp rocks or similar debris on the trail.
Can You Run in Merrell MQM Flex 2?
The Merrell MQM Flex 2 Low has significant padding in the uppers and rubber in the outsole. This means that although they are made for Moving Quickly through Mountains, they are certainly not running shoes, strictly speaking.
You can run in the Merrell MQM Flex 2 Low hiking shoes. If you plan to run on trails with uneven or rocky terrain, then the Merrell MQM Flex 2 Low hiking shoes would perform well by providing foot protection and torsional stability. For running on roads or paved paths, a more traditional running shoe is recommended.
These shoes are a nice balance between bulky hiking footwear and agile, athletic footwear. They can perform as running shoes, but there are probably better trail shoes for strictly running on trails. In my testing over the last two months, I found that shoes invite you to run because they are comfortable.
Are the Merrell MQM Flex 2 Worth the Price?
As I wrote above, I purchased five pairs of shoes for testing and knowing what I know now after testing all five pairs, if I had to purchase just one pair of hiking shoes, it would be the Merrell MQM Flex 2.
I tested these shoes against the Danner Trail 2650 Campo, which are more expensive, and yet I found the Merrell MQM Flex 2 Low to be better for me and my feet.