Time-to-Run tested Merrell Bare Access Trail Shoes – Did you know that Merrell began as a hiking shoe manufacturer in America 1981, and six years later it was sold to Karhu, a Finnish running shoe company.
Since 1997 Merrell has been owned by Wolverine World Wide. It seems a natural step for a hiking shoe company to get involved in making running shoes for trails.
Now Merrell’s running shoe selection includes barefoot shoes as well as lighter and more solid trail shoes.
Review Merrell Bare Access Trail for Women
Product: Women’s Merrell Bare Access Trail
Drop: 0 mm
Cushioning: 8 mm
Stack height: 15.5 mm
Lug depth: 4 mm
Size: EUR 40 / UK 6.5 / US 8.5
Weight: 190 g
Price: approx. € 110
Features: Merrell Bare Access Trail is designed for barefoot runners who need or want a little extra protection for trails. The shoe is designed to soften the landing but at the same time provide a natural stride and touch to the terrain. Even on rugged trail terrain, the shoe promises to provide a comfortable and connected ride. The M Bound™ midsole is meant to provide with efficient feedback from the ground to your foot to improve reaction time, agility and stability.
The supple, breathable upper adjusts to the foot shape perfectly giving it a super-natural fit.
Tester: 38-year-old woman who has run on and off for four years. No previous experience with barefoot running or trail running shoes. Some sand/gravel trail running in traditional running shoes. Weight 54 kg, height 167 cm, normal (no pronation) heel/mid-foot striker.
Test: I was very excited to receive my first ever pair of trail shoes, even if they were more for a barefoot runner. Barefoot running is based on the fact that the less the support and cushioning the more natural your gait is. Your step inevitably moves more towards the mid part and the ball of your foot as there is nothing underneath the heel to absorb the shock.
Until now my ‘trail shoe’ had been the oldest and worn out pair I had. I live on a rugged island, surrounded by mountains and trails galore, so the possibilities for trail running are excellent. Trails here are mainly of sand and stone but also soft lavastone paths can be found. Challenging routes are in abundance, however I choose my routes carefully avoiding worst of the hills. I train mostly on hard surfaces (asphalt/pavement) and the trails bring a nice change from the intensive road running. Trail shoes came to good use!
Bare Access Trail immediately felt good and comfortable on the foot. There are padded projections inside the heel area, which improve the comfort and fit of the shoe. This is a very positive feature for a person like me with “heel problems” and problems finding comfortable shoes. The front of the shoe, the toe cap, is made, perhaps deliberately, very spacious. So, just like running bare feet, the top of your foot and toes have plenty of room to spread out the natural way.
Personally, I found the toe cap a little too spacious even for my not so dainty feet. There should definitely be little room for toe movement but not quite this much. Perhaps a shoe half a size or size smaller had given me a snugger fit. For someone who is not used to a minimalist shoe the 0 mm heel drop may initially seem strange, as if there something missing from under the heel. This did not bother me. This feature helps you to land more towards the mid and forefoot.
The sole of Bare Access Trail is sturdy, even a little hard, and the Vibram sole provides a good grip on the ground, at least on rocky trails. In spite of the sturdy sole you can feel the ground and its unevenness under your foot, like you should with this kind of shoe. You really feel like you are running on trails.
Personally I fell in love with this feeling. It brought a little extra enjoyment and sensuality to trail running.
Shock absorption is scarce compared to a traditional shoe and therefore I have only been out on trails for less than an hour at the time on the Bare Access Trail shoes. For this purpose these Merrells have been great. Personally, I think they are a bit sturdier and more stable for trails than traditional running shoes.
As a bonus the shoe has a protective toe cap, providing your toes that little extra bit of protection.
Pros: lightweight, sturdy, comfortable on feet, suitable for vegans
Cons: too a spacious toe cap, not enough shock absorption for those used to the traditional shoe, need to become accustomed to them after traditional shoe
Summary: A likeable trail shoe that offers a little extra support for trails. Gait stays natural, the sole provides a natural contact with the surface and an reactive push-off from the ground. Naturally the Bare Access Trail shoe is something for barefoot runners who look for little extra support for trails, but also for those accustomed to a minimalist shoe.