Merrell MQM Flex

9.0
9.0 score
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Editor rating: 9.0 / 10
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Merrell MQM Flex Review Facts
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The MQM Flex is the lightest, most agile in Merrell’s newest MQM line. This line is designed to help hikers increase their speed while feeling confident on a torturous terrain. This shoe manages to help move the runner forward while still providing enough stability to keep them safe and secure during steep inclines and difficult declines. The MQM stands for “Moving Quickly in the Mountains”. It was designed when Merrell’s testers requested a shoe that would carry them over mountainous terrain without slowing them down. The Flex was created with a lighter overall makeup, more aggressive lug system underfoot, and supportive stabilizing features. This shoe provides runners with the confidence they need to take on some of the most difficult trail terrains with confidence. Merrell uses innovative technologies like their Flex Connect midsole and M Select Grip in the outsole to create this new hybrid model that is part hiking shoe, part running shoe. The color options are bright and stylish and reinforce the new design of this shoe.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

-Multiple color options

-Designed for fast paced hikes

-Breathable upper keeps the foot cool

-Aggressive lug system keeps the hiker safe

Cons

-Not versatile for road running

-On the heavier side 

 

Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

Hikers know that a good trail shoe is built from the outsole up. Merrell clearly adopted this mentality. The shoe is designed to hold tight to the ground below it, regardless of the conditions of the trail. Merrell uses their patented M Select Grip Rubber for added traction and durability. This outsole is also designed with 3.5 mm lugs, that act similarly to an athletic cleat, to dig into the ground and help the hiker move forward. This rubber is also very durable, so runners and hikers won’t have to worry about getting injured by sharp debris on the trail.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

Merrell stripped some of the cushioning from the midsole to help keep the shoe more lightweight and to up the overall responsiveness of the Flex. The shoe comes with a removable EVA footbed, so runners can adjust the level of cushioning and arch support that they need. Merrell uses their patented Flex Connect midsole. This is an EVA midsole that provides dual directional flex grooves for the runner to increase the overall flexibility of the shoe. The Flex Connect mimics the runner’s bone structure, allowing the runner to move freely without constricting material and heavy stability features. The heel of the shoe is designed to absorb harmful shock using Merrell’s Air Cushioning. This system also helps to increase the stability of the shoe and help to keep the runner’s foot from unwanted side to side movement. Finally, Merrell included a trail protective pad to keep runners safe from trail debris like roots, rocks, or branches.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The upper of the MQM Flex is made using Smart Protection technology. This material allows for air to reach the foot to keep the foot dry, cool, and comfortable, but it also is puncture proof to protect the runner from surprise elements found on the trail. This model uses a ballistic mesh layer in high wear areas that helps to reinforce the design of the shoe and stop the upper from wearing down and looking worn. The tongue of the shoe is made using Bellows that keeps debris from entering the shoe. The inside of the shoe is also lined with a breathable mesh. Runners will find added support and security through the Hyper lock Printed TPU heel counter. This locks the foot in place and eliminates the risk of friction and irritation.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The MQM Flex is one of the lighter shoes in the MQM line. It allows the runner to speed up and attack difficult terrains with agility. However, at 1 pound and 3 ounces, this is not a lightweight shoe by road running standards. Merrell warns that this is not a running shoe and should be reserved for trail hiking.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

Merrell did a great job with the breathability of this shoe. Since the design of the shoe came from Merrell’s shoe testers who are out in the field, often time trekking through hot desert conditions, it was important to them to create a shoe that was breathable and helped to keep the runner cool during warm runs. The upper of the shoe is made using a Ballistic mesh that is strong but still breathable. The shoe is also lined with a breathable inner lining to promote air circulation.

Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Hikers reported that this felt light and adaptive on their feet. This could be because Merrell included technology that adapts to the shape of each runner’s foot and is customizable. The Flex is made with a removable EVA footbed so runners can replace it with a medical orthopedic if they need more arch support. Additionally, the breathable upper and liner keep the foot cool and dry and free from blisters and hot spots. Subtle details like the Bellows tongue and the Trail Protect Pad help keep the runner comfortable during their runs and hikes.
Style
Style

Style

In addition to the structural changes that Merrell made to update their trail shoe, they also worked to create a sleeker, more stylish trail shoe. Even though this shoe is part hiking boot, it doesn’t look anything like a rugged hiking shoe. Merrell used fashionable color options like Fruit Punch, Old Gold, Vapor, Monument, and basic Black and Grey.
Durability
Durability

Durability

The upper and outsole of this shoe are where runners can expect to find the majority of the durability elements that Merrell incorporated into the Flex. Trail runners and hikers know that durable elements are key to creating a high-quality shoe, and the M Select Grip outsole rubber provides traction and durability. Likewise, the Ballistic Mesh of the upper is both breathable and long lasting to stand up to the rough elements of the trail.
Protection
Protection

Protection

In terms of protection, runners can expect to find protection from the elements found on the trail as well as design features that will help protect runners from injury. The Ballistic Mesh upper and the Trail Protected Pad are included in the design of the shoe to keep the runner safe from the elements of the trail. Additionally, although the midsole is thinner, it is practically puncture proof so runners can feel comfortable traversing over sharp debris without the threat of injury. In terms of injury protection, this shoe has added support features that allow the runner to increase their agility.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Runners reported that this shoe has a high level of responsiveness that makes it perfect for quickly moving over difficult terrain. Although the midsole and outsole are very durable, they are actually thinner than other traditional materials. This creates a close connection between the runner and the ground below them, allowing them to quickly and efficiently change direction and pace. It is the highly responsive design that allows runners to feel confident picking up the pace even on the most uneven terrain.
Support
Support

Support

The Hyper lock printed TPU film found along the heel of the shoe help to lock the foot in place and support the runner through their gait cycle. The shoe does not offer a ton of additional cushion, so runners who are looking for a plush ride should select a different option.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

This shoe is suggested for trails. It is especially designed to be able to handle tough terrains and extreme off-road adventures. This shoe was tested by true outdoorsmen and is designed for the athlete who wants to be able to go fast over difficult terrains. The 3.5 mm lug system makes this shoe too aggressive for road running and should be reserved for off-road adventures.
Price
Price

Price

Considering the high level of durability, and the updated technologies that are used in this shoe, the price is more than reasonable. It is actually less than the average trail running shoe on today’s market, and hikers reported that it lasts a very long time, which saved them money in the long run.

Traction
Traction

Traction

The outsole of this shoe is designed using Merrell’s patented Sure Traction technology. This is made from a durable M Select Grip rubber that is designed to connect with the ground below and keep the runner upright and secure on even the most difficult to maneuver terrain. The 3.5 mm lug depth acts like an athletic cleat, helping to propel the runner forward. Hikers reported that the design of this outsole works well on steep inclines as well as declines.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

One of the unique elements of this shoe is that it provides support and stability, but also flexibility. The Flex Connect midsole material is modeled after the natural bone structure of the foot. This allows the runner to move freely and respond to changes in the terrain. Likewise, the mesh upper provides support through the TPU overlays, but the base layer is very flexible and lightweight.
Stability
Stability

Stability

Although this shoe is technically a neutral running shoe, runners and hikers reported that there are elements included in this shoe that help to keep the runner stable during fast-paced hikes across difficult terrain. The EVA removable footbed can also be replaced with a medical orthopedic to increase the level of stability that this shoe offers.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The Merrell MQM Flex features a very low heel drop to help keep the runner connected to the ground below them. The shoe lacks a traditional midsole foam that generally adds inches to the heel drop, and instead utilizes a very thin layer of Merrell’s Flex Connect midsole material. This helps propel the runner forward while still keeping the drop low and responsive.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

- Ballistic Mesh on the upper for added protection
- Sure Traction outsole rubber
- M Select outsole for added grip
- Flex Connect Midsole
- Hyperlock Printed TPU overlays along the heel for added support and security
- EVA removable footbed can be replaced with medical orthopedic
- 3.5 mm lug depth
- 1 pound 3 ounces
- Merrell Air Cushioning in the heel
- Trail Protection Pad
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Merrell has developed something new and exciting in their MQM line. The Flex is lightweight compared to other models, and the most versatile shoe in this line. It is designed to provide a high level of responsiveness that helps the runner move quickly and confidently over difficult terrain. The outsole is designed to protect the hiker and is lined with 3.5 mm deep lugs to keep you upright on steep inclines and declines. The midsole of this shoe uses Merrell’s patented Flex Connect which trades a thick foam, for a lightweight, responsive option. The upper of the shoe combines support and breathability to keep the runner confident and comfortable during their runs. This is a hiking shoe that is designed for the athlete who is looking to move quickly and with agility across extreme outdoor terrains. The price is more than reasonable and the color options are bright and stylish.