Verdict from 10 experts and +100 user reviews

5 reasons to buy

  • The Bare Access Trail features breathable upper and reflective details for increased visibility when running in low light.
  • This shoe provides unmatched flexibility as mentioned in several reviews.
  • The Merrel Bare Access Trail has a roomy toe box, according to some runners.
  • The synthetic overlays keep the midfoot secure and well-connected to the heel area as most runners’ observed.
  • The shoe’s flat platform promotes stability while running on technical terrains, based on a handful of comments.

2 reasons not to buy

  • Some runners felt the Bare Access Trail a bit narrow in the midfoot area.
  • Based on some reviews, the shoe failed to provide a minimalist feel.

Bottom line

The Merrell Bare Access Trail is ideal for runners who are looking for minimal comfort and protection for long trail runs. It offers locked-in fit from the heel to forefoot. It is a great option that will deliver a great running experience while running on technical terrains.

Tip: see the best trail running shoes.

Good to know

  • Merrell’s mastery when it comes to shoes with minimalist features is very evident in the Bare Access Trail. While this is not the ultra-minimalist type, the shoe offers more than enough flexibility, a low to the ground feel, and good ground feedback to moderately mimic barefoot running.
  • Versatility is a huge upside in the shoe as this can be an excellent race day option or it can be a rugged, everyday trainer because of its superior cushioning relative to its weight. This becomes a hybrid option as a racer/trainer, road/trail alternative or a transition shoe for those who are looking to experience more of the minimalist type of running shoe.
  • Without placing a midfoot insert, Merrell made the ride stable in the Bare Access Trail. It begins with a low platform, a zero drop, and moderate tread patterns that allow runners to be very secure, supported, and confident in their gait cycles.

Runners who fancy a tight heel and an even snugger midfoot that ultimately leads to a wide toe box will easily fall in love with this shoe. Generally, the fit of the heel to the midfoot is narrow to medium. Luckily, the wide forefoot accommodates a large number of runners and is perfect for a really plush platform every takeoff. Medium is the available width of the Bare Access Trail. Sizing is fairly standard. For those wanting to have more space in the heel and midfoot, going half a size up is a good option. Sizes are from 5 to 15 for the men’s and 4 to 11 for the women’s.

The Vibram outsole continues to be the rubber of choice in most of Merrell’s trail shoes for its superb traction and durability. Merrell creates a really versatile shoe as the rubber configuration is not too aggressive. Running from the door to the trail, even technical trail is a handy capability of this shoe.

Merrell packed the midsole with several of its premium foams. There is the UniFly foam, which gives decent ground feedback despite its moderate cushioning features. The M-Bound foam is also located here for its responsive cushioning. Adding underfoot support and enduring performance is an 8mm strip of EVA.

The upper is durability personified with a very durable and breathable mesh that is supported by TPU overlays. It is definitely an upper that can take a serious beating on the trail. Comfort is provided by a decent padding in the heel and tongue while the proprietary M-Select Odor Control fights off bad smell. A traditional lace-up closure using simple but very effective laces enables runners to get their best fit. Additionally, these laces stay tied from the start to finish.


How Merrell Bare Access Trail ranks compared to all other shoes
Top 11% trail running shoes
All trail running shoes
Top 5% Merrell running shoes
All Merrell running shoes
Top 15% zero drop running shoes
All zero drop running shoes


The current trend of Merrell Bare Access Trail.
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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.