Verdict from 2 experts and +100 user reviews

6 reasons to buy

  • The upper coverage of this running shoe comes from the Synthetic Leather & Air Mesh.
  • Most reviewers appreciated this 4th version’s overall comfortable design and unbulky nature.
  • The lightweight disposition of the Bare Access Arc 4 is a positive feature for testers.
  • It’s a running shoe that’s effective for many activities, such as running, exercising or even walking.
  • The durability of the individual parts is also very dependable.
  • The minimal cushioning is able to offer protection, comfort and surface control for the runner.

4 reasons not to buy

  • There were complaints with regard to the Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 being a bit narrow for the feet.
  • There is little support for the arch, therefore it’s not the best option for over-pronators.
  • Some runners noted that the aesthetic of this shoe was too similar to the previous versions.
  • Some reviewers felt that the upper unit wasn’t able to snugly wrap their feet properly.

Bottom line

The Bare Access Arc 4 from Merrell is a running companion that many athletes and casual individuals can enjoy. It’s a neutral running shoe that’s catered to minimalist enthusiasts. Its durability is superb and the underfoot comfort is adequate, but it doesn’t have arch supports.

Tip: see the best running shoes.

Good to know

  • The upper unit of the Bare Access Arc 4 features a mesh material that has a more open construction than the Bare Access Arc 3. Visible holes pockmark the upper, making sure that air can enter and keep the foot cool and dry throughout every run.
  • The overlay system was created using a sturdy material. Bonded onto the upper fabric, these sections secure the foot in a snug and customizable wrap.
  • The outsole unit now has deeper flex grooves in the forefoot area. Having such a construction encourages more freedom of movement. Every toe-off is now more natural and empowered because of the flexibility.
  • The mesh lining has been treated with an anti-microbial coating that effectively keeps the interior environment of the Bare Access Arc 4 cleaner and healthier for the runner.
  • The Bare Access Arc 4 is a vegan running shoe. The materials and components that were used to craft it were not taken from animal products, though they still have 100% efficacy in comfort and service.

This affordable running shoe was exclusively made for women. It follows the standard sizing scheme for women. It also comes in a medium width, thus accommodating those with medium-sized heels, mid-foot and forefoot sections.

The Bare Access Outsole features gripping lugs that have a 2mm-depth. These aren’t prominent, but they’re effective when exposed to roads and stable off-road tracks.

The Flex Grooves offer natural movement that starts at the edge of the mid-foot to the point where the metatarsals actually bend. These grooves are deeper than the ones found in the previous iteration, so it delivers more efficiency when it comes to its purpose.

The Vibram outsole technology is one of the most durable in the market. It’s made of high quality material that work together to provide a durable outer layer that resists abrasion and wear. It’s also efficient in giving traction.

The MBound is a cushioning technology that has bounce-back capabilities. It’s flexible, but it can carry the foot well. Its soft and responsive nature provides the runner with the capability to function well over many types of terrain.

The Compression Molded Ethylene vinyl acetate or CMEVA offers durability and support in the platform. It doesn’t wear off or break down easily.

The insole was treated with the M-Select Fresh anti-bacterial coating. It protects the foot from moisture and build-up of bacteria. It even adds a bit of cushioning.

The upper unit is made from Air Mesh and synthetic leather. This unit is a durable one that offers breathable and comfortable coverage.

The overlay system is made from TPU, a strong material that’s also responsive. The no-sew construction of the overlays reduces the overall weight and doesn’t make the upper stiff. They help the mesh material wrap the foot comfortably.

The inner lining has been coated by the M-Select Fresh treatment. It doesn’t irritate the skin and it keeps the environment bacteria-free. The neoprene fabric that’s used for this lining is soft and cushiony.


How Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 35% road running shoes
All road running shoes
Top 21% Merrell running shoes
All Merrell running shoes
Bottom 43% minimalist running shoes
All minimalist running shoes


The current trend of Merrell Bare Access Arc 4.
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Jens Jakob Andersen
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.