REVIEW: Merrell MQM Flex 2 Gore-Tex Trail Running Shoes
When searching for the right pair of trail running shoes there are some important factors that we always take into consideration. For instance, the shoe need to be comfortable to wear even on longer runs, offer good traction in often sloppy conditions, and provide plenty of protection for our feet. If that same shoe also happens to be waterproof and reasonably lightweight, then you’ve truly got our attention. That’s exactly what Merrell brings to the table with its MQM Flex 2 Gore-Tex model—a shoe that promises to be nimble and quick enough for runners, yet durable and supportive for light hikers.
While those are certainly bold aspirations to pursue, I can say that Merrell comes very close to hitting the mark. After putting the MQM Flex 2 through its paces, I’ve found them to be be a remarkably good shoe for a variety of activities on the trail.
Comfort (5) ★★★★★
Merrell threw a lot of features and technology at the MQM Flex 2 in an attempt to make it as comfortable as possible. Those features include a softer, more flexible, outsole, an air-cushioned pod in the heel, and a contoured insole for cradling the arch. The result is a shoe that feels great on your foot straight out of the box, with only a minima amount of break-in time. An integrated rock plate provides good protection under foot as well, ensuring that these shoes remain comfortable even on extended outings.
Fit (4) ★★★★
The MQM Flex 2’s tongue-integrated lacing system does an excellent job of creating a secure fit, without creating irritating hot spots. The shoe itself is designed to wrap around the foot in a snug, form-fitting fashion that doesn’t inhibit motion. This creates a sense of confidence and agility while both climbing and descending on technical trails. However, these shoes do run a bit large for their size, even when taking into account thicker socks or natural swelling of the feet. Keep that in mind when trying them on.
Traction (5) ★★★★★
Overall, the MQM Flex 2 provides very good traction on a variety of different terrains, including dirt, wed grass, mud, and rocks. The grippy “Flexconnect” sole sticks surprisingly well, even on slick surfaces or in wet conditions. There were times when the thick lugs created a sense of being disconnected from the trail, but overall the shoe provides a great sense of control at all times. This was especially noticeable on steep descents and in inclement weather.
Waterproofing (4) ★★★★
Speaking of inclement weather, the MQM Flex 2 Gore-Tex incorporates an Invisible Fit membrane to keep moisture at bay. This material was specially developed by Gore-Tex for use in trail shoes, not only providing the company’s trademark waterproofing, but also enhancing fit and breathability too. While running in the rain and crossing shallow streams, the shoe performed exceptionally well at keeping our feet dry. Breathability is definitely improved over previous Gore-Tex membranes as well, but don’t expect miracles when running in hot and muggy conditions. When the temperature soared, our feet still ended up getting wet, mostly due to sweaty feet.
Overall (5) ★★★★
The MGM Flex 2 Gore-Tex is an excellent all around shoe that is versatile enough for trail running, light hiking, or fast packing. They are comfortable to wear, provide great traction, and are agile even on slick surfaces. The Gore-Tex lining offers exceptional protection from moisture, although breathability is still a concern in warmer weather. We recommend trying a pair on before purchasing, just to make sure you get the correct size. Other than that, this could be your all-purpose trail shoe for just about any kind of adventure.
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