The RW Takeaway: Standout grip and underfoot protection on a midsole that balances cushioning and ground feel make the Momentous an ideal shoe for new trail runners.
I know I’m not the only one who’s had a few big moments while out running trails. (Highlights include muddy face-plants, dicey wildlife encounters, and lost battles with stinging nettle....) But, there have also been epic sweat-flecked sunsets, cathartic postrun creek baths, and little moments of peace when all feels right with the world. Merrell’s Momentous gets you through all of it—the good, the bad, and the ugly—out on the trail.
The shoe has an extra tacky Vibram MegaGrip rubber outsole with toothy lugs for reliable grip across wet gravel and riverbeds, while rock plates bookend the heel and forefoot so you won’t notice sharp trail debris. Cushioning from a compression-molded midsole and additional foam pods dampen shock on steep descents, and a removable PU insole serves runners who crave more softness. Plus, the Momentous dials up comfort with an anti-odor knit upper and a burrito tongue that folds over the arch to eliminate hot spots. To complete the package, TPU overlays span from the toe to a burly heel counter that delivers support for neutral feet.
An EVA-based midsole with foam pods in the heel and forefoot feels much more cushioned than Merrell’s barefoot shoes like the Trail Glove 5, but the Momentous still prioritizes ground feel. A slight 4mm drop keeps you low to the trail with removable PU insoles that add softness without boosting stack height. Our testers agreed that TrailProtect rock plates shielded well against debris underfoot, but the moderate level of cushioning warrants a personal preference. While one runner found the Momentous amply cushioned for an 18 miler, others said they’d be hesitant to lace it up for long runs. “I generally prefer a softer shoe, and this one qualified,” thought one tester. “It wasn’t a mattress, but it felt really, really great on trails.”
Vibram offers a 12-member family of sport and outdoor rubber compounds split between Durability, Grip, Eco, and Climbing categories. The Momentous dips into the Grip lineage for MegaGrip—the option with the best traction across wet and dry surfaces, most longevity, and a careful balance of flex and stability for optimal ground adaption. Deep 5mm lugs stand up to all but the swampiest of trails, and earned rave ratings from every single one of our testers. “This shoe is the superhero of traction—incredibly grippy on wet, dry, and unstable surfaces,” one tester remarked. “[It] even gripped on the algae-covered rocks at the bottom of creek beds. I couldn’t get them to slip if I tried.”
Highlights above deck include a stretchy and breathable knit and TPU upper (treated with antimicrobial agents to reduce odor) and a burrito-style tongue. While the wrapping design helps alleviate hot spots and offers a closer fit, our tester with high arches found that it didn’t quite reach all the way around her foot. Testers with low to moderate arches did not experience any issues.
The Momentous does have a noticeably higher heel collar in the back, but the plushness of the extra material prevents any rubbing or blisters—even when wearing low-rise socks. Overall, the shoe runs slightly large with generous room in the toe box, and most runners will benefit from dropping down a half size. While sizing is a bit off, it ultimately didn’t detract from comfort—just try before you buy.
“I loved how [the upper] wrapped around my foot perfectly,” one tester praised. “I’ve never had a trail shoe—or really any running shoe—that felt as comfortable as this one did.”
Brittni H., tester since 2017Arch: Medium | Gait: Overpronator | Footstrike: Midfoot“This is a great beginner shoe. It has the traction and cushioning that I wanted when I first started trail running, but not the speed or agility that I want now.”
Larry S., tester since 2014Arch: High | Gait: Normal| Footstrike: Midfoot“These rate near the top of trail shoes I have had. The cushioning is not extensive (which I prefer for better ground feel) but is enough to keep the shoe comfortable over all terrain, and the flexibility provided an excellent toe-off and ride.”
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