There’s a shoe for every occasion these days. For climbing a mountain you’ll need walking boots. A different pair for each season, of course. Then there’s the office so out come the smart leather shoes – one black pair, one brown pair. For gardening, it’s wellies. Cycling it’s SPDs. And for ten-pin bowling, nothing less than those fancy red and black two-tone numbers will do.
That’s all well and good and sometimes the most appropriate choice of footwear is dictated by the activity. But for everything else, it’s nice to rely on just one pair of shoes. Something rugged enough for messing about outside, but which doesn’t look out of place nipping to the shops.
Welcome to the ‘multi-purpose activity shoe’ or MPAS as literally no-one else but me calls it. A staple item in any outdoorsy person’s wardrobe.
My MPAS of choice has always been the Merrell Moab Ventilator. Over the years I’ve struggled to find anything wrong with them. Except maybe for one thing – they do look a bit too rugged.
And while it pains me to admit it, I do like my kit to look good. Performance and comfort is the top priority, yes, but if it looks smart and makes me feel more confident then I’m more likely to wear it both on and off the hill.
That’s why, when the time came to replace my trusty Moab Ventilators, I was drawn to the Merrell Moab FST 2 GTX. Described by Merrell as offering the same comfort as its chunkier big brother, while having more athletic styling and a lighter midsole, could this be the perfect MPAS?
The Merrell Moab FST 2 GTX is not just a pretty face. It’s packed full of features including a Gore Tex liner and a Vibram sole. The sole has deep lugs and is grippy on slippery surfaces. There’s enough feel underfoot for confident placement off road, but the sole is hard enough to ensure your feet aren’t prodded and poked from rockier paths, which can become tiresome.
Despite the hard sole, the Merrell Moab FST 2 GTX comes with plenty of cushioning, so you can run and jump about in them without feeling every jolt.
While the idea of Gore Tex to keep your feet dry is appealing, I’ve never missed it in the standard (non-Gore Tex) Moab Ventilators. I’ll have to see if the liner enhances my enjoyment of the shoe over its lifetime. But my gut feeling is that these are shoes, not boots, so are probably only ever going to be good for splashing in shallow puddles. Let’s see.
Fit and comfort
Merrell prides itself on out of the box, all-day comfort. And that’s certainly the case here. Despite having features normally found on a quality summer walking boot, they feel more like a pair of lightweight trainers to wear.
As you’d expect for such a comfortable shoe, the fit is spot-on. Some shoes can feel a little narrow, particularly as your feet tend to swell as you wear them. But the Merrells have plenty of room while still providing a secure fit around the heel.
I just wear my everyday trainer socks with these shoes but I’ve had to go one size up from my usual. Merrell does offer half sizes though, so fine-tuning the fit shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
I think they look great! Particularly in this navy/slate combination. Merrell have managed to incorporate features which scream ‘I belongs in the outdoors’ without making the shoe look too ‘stout’.
The Moab FST 2 GTX comes in different colours and they do a men’s and women’s version. It’s nice to see the women’s colours aren’t just pink and purple too! I did find that not all retailers stock all colours, so do shop around if you are after a particular hue.
What’s not to like?
Very little. If I’m being picky, the stretchy material used on the bellows tongue is a little rough where it folds and I’ve been conscious of it pressing against the top of my foot if I really think about it. But they are brand new and I suspect the materials will ‘give’ a little as I wear them more.
They are also quite expensive. I managed to get a discount on the rrp of £120 but however you look at it, that’s a lot to shell out. They are, however, my go-to pair of shoes which I wear everyday and in all sorts of conditions so it should justify the expense.
Should I buy them?
Yes. If you like your MPAS to perform as well as look good, these take some beating. But if the £120 price tag puts you off and you don’t need the Gore Tex, you’d be just as happy with a pair of standard Moab Ventilators.