MEREDITH
EWENSON

Gear, Hiking

The #1 Hiking Boots for New England (All Seasons)

Let me preface: Hiking boots are most definitely a personal preference.

But I think the Merrell Moab 3 Mid Gore-Tex are a strong contender as the best for New Englanders.

🎥 Watch my gear review Reel of the Merrell Moab 3 Mid Gore-Tex 🎥

And while they are my favorite for the many reasons I’ll articulate below, it’s absolutely important to test yourself to see what styles work best for you.

(And also, why I love REI’s return policy. You can buy, test, and return most products for up to a year if they don’t meet your expectations.)

Whether I’m hiking flat muddy trails in Rhode Island or the rugged big mountains in New Hampshire, I’ve found that the Merrell Moab 3 Mid Gore-Tex tick all the boxes for me.

I took these hiking boots for 50 miles on the windy, rainy Laugavegur Trail in Iceland this past September and plan to take them to Machu Picchu for another 45 miles this coming May.

And before you ask: I’ve tried ✨everyone’s favorite trail runners for hiking And it’s a no from me.

This past June a friend and I did a 4-day hut-to-hut traverse of the Appalachian Mountain Club huts in the New Hampshire White Mountains.

Day one was an absolute downpour.

In fact, the days leading up to the start of our trek were flash floods all throughout the White Mountains (late June 2023 for anyone who recalls) and looked closely at the weather leading up to the trip to be sure we didn’t need to cancel because of it.

Our plan was to take it day by day and bail at any time if we had to. Luckily, we didn’t have to, however it was an absolute puddle fest, so footwear was heavily on my mind.

My friend and I could not have worn more opposite footwear (less one of us were barefoot):

She wore lightweight (non-Gore-Tex) trail runners, while I wore my Merrell Moab 3 Mid Gore-Tex hiking boots.

She is a seasoned, lifelong runner (and also outdoor apparel designer who definitely has personal and informed decisions about her gear choices) who’s feet and ankles are used to less support. I am not.

(And trust me, I did try everyone’s favorite trail runners for hiking on a similarly rugged and challenging trek, the Presidential Traverse also in the New Hampshire White Mountains, the year before and the bottoms of my feet and ankles KILLED. I lost a toenail. Never again for me.)

She had wet socks and feet after each day. I did not.

She didn’t complain, and was happy with her choice, which really tells you that it does come down to personal preference and testing things out in different scenarios to see what works best for you.

For me, a few more ounces was a fair trade-off for dry feet and happy ankles.

Merrell Moab 3 Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots

There’s a reason Merrell has been the quintessential hiking boot for decades. They know what they’re doing, so people love them. Including me.

Mid-height

Mud and debris are a lot less likely to get into your shoes (which can cause blisters), and your socks are a lot more likely to stay dry when opt for a hiking boot over hiking shoe.

As articulated in my story above, I also found that when I transitioned these hiking boots to more rugged terrain and elevation gain, the ankle support was so appreciated.

Gore-Tex

Speaking of dry, I almost always go for a Gore-Tex hiking boot for New England.

We get a lot of rain (which also means mud) and weather tends to be more cold than hot throughout the year.

IMO: Gore-Tex = warm, dry feet. And those are a must for me.

And while Gore-Tex can take longer to dry if it does get really saturated, I find that the barrier does its job, and I haven’t had that problem at all. Not even on the rainiest, muddiest hikes.

(Gore-Tex is a proprietary brand of waterproofing material that is exceptionally durable. You’ll see Merrell makes these same shoes in “waterproof”, but I opt to spend just a little bit more for the “Gore-Tex” version. The Gore-Tex brand is also currently coming out with a new, more eco-friendly version of their technology and I’m curious to see how it compares in quality.)

Rugged Sole

Grip you can depend on is as important on slick flat trails in Rhode Island as graded granite slabs in the White Mountains. Trusting my feet is super important for me in a hiking boot. And these are a sole I’ve been able to trust.

Break-in period

Honestly, there wasn’t one.

I bought my Merrell Moab 3 Mid Gore-Tex hiking boots about a month ahead of that wet, rugged multi-day hut-to-hut White Mountains hike in New Hampshire.

I probably put about 20 or so miles on them between flat-ish Rhode Island hikes and the Stairmaster at Planet Fitness just to be sure they were good to go before jumping into 4 days, 21 miles, and about 8k elevation gain (as well as another 8k elevation loss).

If you have a big trip coming up, however, I’d recommend more time just in case you do have a break-in period or need to try out another hiking boot instead.

Lightweight

OK, while they might not be the lightest hiking boot, I was shocked as to how light they were when I first picked them up. They look a lot heavier than they actually are.

And not once have they ever felt heavy or that I was dragging on my feet.

And ultimately: I’d happily take a couple extra ounces for Gore-Tex to ensure my feet dry and a rugged, grippy sole.

Regular or Wide

I find that these hiking boots run true to width, or if anything a little bit narrow. So for folks who prefer a wider shoe, you have that option, too.

When I would NOT choose these hiking boots

This is a New England targeted review, so from that standpoint, I stand behind my recommendation.

However, if it’s a super insanely hot day, you tend to be someone with extra sweaty feet, and you know the trails are dry (but really, do we ever know if trails will be dry?? Raise your hand if you’ve been victimized by puddles and mud from rain days or weeks earlier) or it’s just a really easy, flat trail –

I might opt that day for a lighter, even more easily breathable pair of hiking boots like the Merrell Moab 3 Waterproof (Mid or Low) or Merrell Moab 3 (Mid or Low without the Waterproof or Gore-Tex). Only opting for the Low ankle if the trail isn’t too long or technical to need ankle support or worry about debris in your shoes giving you blisters.

Also, if you live or are traveling to hike in a different climate like the desert, or again, somewhere really hot, the Mid and Gore-Tex version of this hiking boot might not be the best fit, in which case Merrell has multiple versions of this best-selling hiking shoe/boot in both Men’s & Women’s.

So, there you have it. A gear review of my favorite hiking boots that, if I were to choose, would be the best hiking boots for New England, in all seasons.


➡️ Let me know in the comments: What questions do you have about these hiking boots? Is there any other hiking gear for New England you want me to review next?


Make sure to follow me on Instagram at @meredithewenson for all things hikes and outdoors in Rhode Island and beyond.

This blog post contains affiliate links where I earn small commission, but at no additional expense to you.

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The #1 Hiking Boots for New England (All Seasons)