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Elite Hillwalking with the Merrell MQM 3

Gear & Guides
Elite Hillwalking with the Merrell MQM 3

Hiking, running, and scrambling – what if it were possible to have a single pair of shoes that can do it all? That’s the claim of Merrell’s MQM 3 GTX.
Photography by James Carnegie

Hiking, running, and scrambling – they’re all about moving in the mountains, but each has a different philosophy and most people would choose very different footwear for a hike, a run, or a scramble. What if it were possible to have a single pair of shoes that can competently do it all? That’s the claim of Merrell’s ambitious MQM (Moving Quickly in the Mountains) series.

Merrell recently introduced a new version in the MQM line: the MQM 3 GTX. It builds on the trusted stability of the MOAB series, which can claim to be the most popular hiking shoe in the world with over 25 million pairs sold, but the MQM 3 GTX goes a step or two further by aiming to be a multi-tool hiking shoe: stable enough to hike in, agile enough to run in, and durable enough for light scrambling. That sounds a lot like a do-everything, go-anywhere mountain shoe. But how does it really perform? Does the reality live up to the promise?

British Olympic race-walker and world-record holder Tom Bosworth has won six British Outdoor Championships, and has a personal best of 1 hour, 19 minutes and 38 seconds for 20km – that’s the very definition of moving quickly! Merrell, keen to learn how a race walker approaches fast movement in the mountains, offered Tom the opportunity to test out the MQM 3 GTX in the Lake District.

‘The first thing I noticed about the MQM is the quality of its construction,’ Tom reports. ‘This shoe looks athletic and sturdy – a rare combo when it comes to hiking shoes, which are usually forced to compromise.’ He added that the Gore-Tex waterproof membrane kept his feet dry throughout the hike and breathed well – helped by the breathable mesh lining made from 100 per cent recycled materials, which played a big part in keeping his feet comfortable.

In use, Tom soon realised that the MQM 3 GTX’s Vibram TC5+ outsole was key to the ‘do-everything’ nature of this shoe: ‘The 5mm lugs gripped the trail well without getting stuck or feeling like the shoe was working against me. You can also tell that due thought went into the shape and placement of the lugs – they’re directional, which made walking in them feel smooth and effortless.’ He found that the climbing zone at the toe, while appearing insignificant at first glance, ‘really kicked in when I was navigating rockier parts of the trail and found myself needing to do a bit of light scrambling.’ It helped him to slice through mud and debris and find a purchase from which he could push off. The Vibram TC5+ technology was formulated exclusively for Merrell and achieves an effective balance between grippiness, durability, and allowing some give for running and scrambling.

And Tom’s verdict? ‘Each part of the shoe’s design has a specific purpose in mind and it’s this efficiency which allows it to lay claim to being a running, hiking, and scrambling shoe. So, if you’re someone who likes to hoard shoes and is looking to create some space on your shoe rack, the MQM might be just for you. One shoe, three times less space.’

Elite Hillwalking with the Merrell MQM 3 Elite Hillwalking with the Merrell MQM 3 Elite Hillwalking with the Merrell MQM 3

Top tips for faster hiking

Here are a few tips from Tom Bosworth for picking up the pace in the mountains.

1. Keep your eyes on the trail
‘Pay close attention to what is coming up ahead and be prepared to adjust your foot placement, body position, or even your speed. It’s vital you’re aware of any change in terrain. By being aware of it, you can adjust to it – and, when it comes to walking faster, making sure you get these micro-decisions right can drastically increase your walking speed.’

2. Technical footwear is a must
‘If you want to improve your walking pace and not wreck your feet in the process, make sure the shoe you’re wearing is appropriate for the terrain and provides the right level of support. You’ll want shoes that are lightweight and grippy. Waterproofing is a nice bonus.’

3. Take advantage of the downhill
‘What comes up must come down, and I’d also add “faster” to the famous adage. To maximise your walking pace, taking advantage of the downhills is a must. It’s nature’s way of giving you a boost. Allow the natural momentum to help quicken your pace and shave off vital minutes.’

4. Manage your pace
‘Before a big race, Formula 1 drivers study the race map extensively. They will know every turn and every straight and will have learnt the perfect line in and out of each section. To be able to take a route quickly, you need to know it – and like an F1 driver you need to understand where you’ll want to put your foot on the gas, and where you may need to slow down to navigate tricky terrain.’

5. Fuelling
‘So you’ve got your route in your head, you’ve got your Merrell MQMs laced up, and now you’re ready to hit the trail. The final part is fuel. Effective fuelling and hydration involves making sure you’re stocked up with water, and also having enough snacks or gels on hand to provide an energy boost when you need it. A handful of nuts is my go-to snack, but there are many great energy or protein bar options too – whatever takes your fancy.’

Find out more about the Merrell MQM 3 GTX at
Merrell // @merrell
Photography by James Carnegie // @jamescarnegiephotography



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