Named by Footwear News as one of the top five iconic Wolverine shoes of all time, the Merrell Jungle Moc lives up to its praises. Well-loved since its inception in the 1990s, its origin story closely mirrors the founding tenants of the almost-40-year-old brand.
It all began in 1981 when Randy Merrell, a master boot maker, teamed up with outdoor enthusiasts Clark Matis and John Schweizer with a simple goal in mind. They wanted to cater to the booming outdoor and backpacking trend sweeping the nation by creating well-made boots that prioritized quality construction, durability, and performance.
After the trio launched their first products in 1983, their hiking boots quickly gained status as an affordable go-to favorite for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts thanks to Merrell's “no compromises” approach to construction.
But striving to be better is in the brand’s DNA, and by the 1990s despite consistent success, Merrell’s leadership team was not happy resting on its hiking boot laurels. They sought to develop a style that would cater to a newly emerging group of consumers looking for an “after sport” shoe. This new design would offer the quality and exceptional comfort of Merrell’s well-known hiking boots, but for off-the-trail use.
After receiving a lukewarm response from loyal Merrell fans with the launch of a new style called the Jungle Runner, the brand redoubled their efforts. Taking customer feedback into account, Merrell designers were able to repurpose the Jungle Runner outsoles and rework the upper. The result: an instant sensation that has sold over 15 million pairs since its 1998 debut.
What is it about the sleek design that resonates with consumers? We take an in-depth look at the features of the iconic Merrell Jungle Moc to find out.
While the Jungle Moc comes in plenty of variations including leather and nubuck, the original design featured a pigskin suede upper. Pigskin suede is the firmest type of suede, even more so than sheepskin and calfskin. With a shorter nap, it's durable, but still soft and pliable. This means that the Jungle Moc is soft and flexible, like your favorite slippers, but still maintains the durability and toughness Merrell is known for. Plus, certain styles are pretreated to be water resistant. Suitable for post-hike camp life or rainy Sunday errands, the pigskin suede construction makes all the difference in durability.
After a long day on the trails, hikers need the soft durability of suede and the underfoot support to soothe tired feet. To really provide anatomical comfort, Merrell relies on its own unique fit technology: the Merrell M Select FIT.ECO blended EVA contoured footbed. EVA is a synthetic material that has rubber-like softness and flexibility, but is softer and lighter than rubber. (Think pool noodles and flip flops.) When the shoe is built, the EVA is molded around a last, or foot form, to conform to the foot’s natural structure. This means the footbed of the Jungle Moc is designed to adequately support arches and heels with squishy flexible softness. The EVA and the way it’s molded are essential to the Merrell M select FIT.ECO system and can be found in many Merrell products.
For after-sport consumers, a durable outsole with plenty of traction is a must. And while originally the Jungle Moc was made with the outsole of its predecessor, the Jungle Runner, it now features updated Merrell technology called M Select GRIP. With angled lugs, this tear-resistant rubber grips in any weather, on any terrain. The design of the outsole even means it cleans itself. Molded nylon arch shank embedded in the sole provides comfort and stability, while an air cushioned heel joins the EVA in the midsole for a cushy feel perfect for recovery.
The simple design of the Jungle Moc upper allows its natural material to shine. Minimalist design with no laces and subtle branding means versatility. You can pair these Jungle Mocs with just about anything, from jeans to activewear. Thoughtful additions like the tonal dual elastic gore and a sturdy heel tab give this no-fuss Merrell slip-on a flawless fit.
When designing his first shoes in the 1980s, Randy Merrell saw a huge gap in the way hiking boots of the era were made. Many of the best ones were based off a European model of the foot that incorporated a wider heel and caused blisters as the shoes slid on and off while walking. Merrell sought to correct this by designing a better fitting shoes that delivered a snug heel, precise instep and roomy toe box. Many reviewers find that these shoes, with their foundation of exceptionally designed fit, are true to size.
For a trio of fit, comfort, and durability, the Jungle Moc is the perfect no-fuss shoe that lives up to its “no compromises” design. Perfect for after-trail recovery or after-work commutes, the Merrell Jungle Moc is the complete package.