We spent 9.4 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what runners think:

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.


Terrain: Trail
Arch support: Neutral
Weight: Men: 8.3oz | Women: 7.2oz
Heel to toe drop: Men: 0mm | Women: 0mm
Pronation: Neutral Pronation
Arch type: High arch
Strike Pattern: Forefoot strike
Distance: Competition
Heel height: Men: 15mm | Women: 15mm
Forefoot height: Men: 15mm | Women: 15mm
Brand: Merrell
Type: Low drop | Zero drop
Width: Men: Normal | Women: Normal
Price: $100
Colorways: Black, Grey, Pink
Small True to size Large
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A top rated Trail running shoe
A popular pick
It has never been more popular than this April

Expert Reviews

Experts are runners, who post reviews at youtube, directly at RunRepeat or at their own websites. Each expert is categorized from level 1 to level 5 based on expertise. See stats on expert reviews and how we calculate scores here.

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86 / 100 based on 11 expert reviews

  • 90 / 100 | Runner's World | Level 5 expert

    The almost-zero-drop, close-to-the-earth shoe offers plenty of feel--too much feel for those who tested it on rocky trails, where the underfoot protection was inadequate against sharp impact.

  • 93 / 100 | Gear Institute | | Level 4 expert

    The Merrell Bare Access Trail worked best for minimalist runners looking for a small amount of comfort and protection for long trail days, or trail runners seeking a low and lightweight race shoe for distances up to 50K.

  • 88 / 100 | Caveman Clarke | Level 3 expert

    They are an ideal natural-feeling shoe for longer, dryer and rocky trails, and I look forward to my continuing use of them for both training and racing. 

  • 85 / 100 | Run Bulldog Run | | Level 3 expert

    The tongue is slightly padded and does not put pressure on the foot like other trail shoes sometimes do. 

  • 83 / 100 | Run Bulldog Run | | Level 3 expert

    The lace system is simple, yet effective and best of all, the laces stay tied. The tongue is slightly padded and does not put pressure on the foot like other trail shoes sometimes do.

  • 80 / 100 | 220 Triathlon | | Level 3 expert

    Offering durability as well as good levels of flex.

Become an expert

  • 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.


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.