Pitching the more casual Annex against the more trainer-like Moab, it's immediately obvious that these are two good pairs of shoes. Where the Annex is perfect everyday wear and fine for a decent stroll, the Moab wants to encourage you outdoors for a bit more action.

But which is the better all-rounder?

Merrell have been in the outdoor game for some 30 years and my first impressions are that their experience shows. Both pairs of shoes were among the comfiest I've worn in quite a while - something the brand are well known for.

The quality shows too. Both ranges are light, superbly made and stuffed with high-end components. Both feature GORE-TEX linings to keep your feet dry and, as with so many walking shoes and boots, both have durable Vibram outsoles.

Vibram is a brand with serious history, though one that provokes debates on wet grip in some of the more hardcore climbing circles. However, neither of these pairs are pitched as a climbing shoe, and you can safely ignore any such gripes here.

The Moab

Quite a long-running range for Merrell now, the Moab is the all-action sibling of the two pairs here.

It's a good looking shoe, and although the Annex is the one that's pitched as being country-pub-savvy, my all-black Moabs are pretty much wear-anywhere too.

Despite the good looks, the Moab is clearly ready for some rugged use. They're well balanced, with a sturdy sole with decent grip, and a general feeling of being supportive and robust. The subtle yet high visibility lace loops are a nice touch and allude to greater depths of capability.

In recent weeks I've had the Moabs doing everything from decent-length trail walks in the Sussex countryside to pounding the pavements of London. They've excelled at all of the important stuff and kept my feet dry in a soggy loop around the Ouse Valley Viaduct at Balcombe (pictured).

I have just two minor gripes.

Firstly, my personal preference is probably for a bit more flex in the sole than the Moab offers (particularly for urban use), due to some fairly weak knees. That won't be a universal problem though, and the cushioning provided by the air-filled heel will suit most people perfectly, especially for rougher trails where the chunky soles gave stability without removing all underfoot feel.

The Moab has an Ortholite insole and new soles are available in multiple densities, so that could be one option for anyone else like me.

Slightly longer laces would be an improvement though. I'm long since trained to double-loop my laces to prevent them coming undone, but with the high bridges on my feet, the laces supplied on the Moabs just aren't long enough.

Those points aside, the Moabs compares very well to the competition. Price wise, this is quality footwear and as you'd expect, the Merrells are in the same territory as Salomon's and Mammut's options, though a little cheaper than the likes of Scarpa and Haglöfs.

The Annex

Less so for the Annex Mid, but for the Annex itself, the intended use is more casual.

Deceptively lairy orange sole aside, this is a strolling, exploring, and everyday sort of shoe, rather than one to push to the limits of your own endurance.

To my mind they're perfect for a pub walk - comfortable and supportive, with the same GORE-TEX tech as the Moabs to keep your toes dry through dew-covered fields, and enough subtlety and style to relax when you get there. The laces are still a bit short, but being flat don't come undone nearly as often.

To be honest they've become my go-to choice of footwear and I find myself using them for near-on everything.

Read any reviews and you'll see that Merrell often stand out for comfort and style - and these two pairs are no exception. But that isn't to say that they're short on performance.

Capable enough for a decent walk, smart-yet-casual enough to wear anywhere and seriously comfortable. Both the Moab and the Annex feel like tough, good quality footwear at a sensible price.

It's a hell of a combination - and it's the Annex that edge it for me.


Comfortable, stylish, capable and very well made.


Hard to understand why the laces are so short!

Recommended Use

Both ranges provide good everyday wear, but the Moabs have an edge as trail-wear.

Ease of use:
Feature design:
Build quality:
Value for money: