19 best Merrell running shoes

Based on reviews from 45 experts and 8,258 users. Learn how our rankings work or see our guide to Merrell running shoes. Updated Nov 2018.

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Merrell running shoes

History

best merrell running shoes
Best Merrell running shoes - November 2018

With a little glance back in time, we would learn that Randy Merrell first embarked on the journey more than three decades ago, when he began designing custom boots for a small group of outdoor enthusiasts. At first, Randy’s endeavor only involved cowboy boots, but later on expanded to hiking boots. Randy will eventually move further to create Merrell running shoes and other activewear, but the brand’s humble beginnings were rooted in hiking.

The inspiration for Randy had come during a time when he was hiking and his hiking boots unfortunately got lost. Realizing the importance of the footwear in such instances, Randy had decided to go down the path of designing and manufacturing hiking boots.

Then, in 1981, Randy had decided to team up with two former executives of a ski company: Clark Matis and John Schweizer, both of whom are experienced in the sports-apparel industry and were looking for a new opportunity. Coupled with Randy Merrell’s craftsmanship, the trio had started to develop a more affordable model of high-performing hiking boots – Randy provides the design, John sources the materials and spearheads the business, and Clark handles the production and marketing. With such a team up, the Merrell brand was born.

Merrell at present

Merrell, as a brand, had developed and maintained a “no compromise” approach to their practices. To set themselves apart from other manufacturers, Merrell utilizes an American-cowboy boot technology to create an Italian-sourced hiking shoe. This technique has allowed them to guarantee their shoes to last for a decade. In fact, it still holds true, as one of their earliest models – the Wilderness – remains in production today.

Merrell running shoes, on the other hand, strive to feature the perfect balance between comfort and protection. The various technologies used in each model prove their efficacy by delivering protection, comfort, and traction. The different styles of Merrell running shoes for men and women work hard to provide runners with an enhanced trail-adventure experience.

All Merrell products are rooted in their four core values: comfort, durability, design, and versatility. Including Merrell running shoes, their product innovations aim to remove the barriers and allow consumers to fully enjoy the great outdoors.

What to expect from Merrell running shoes

In line with the brand’s four core values mentioned above, it is safe to say that the running shoes from Merrell are all anchored in these concepts to provide the most fulfilling experience for both the professional runner and the budding enthusiast. But, what could we expect from Merrell running shoes?

  • In whatever you do, it is important that you feel good mentally as much as you do physically, and this could be achieved if you are at ease with your environment and your skin. Merrell running shoes strive to fit as comfortably as possible, ensuring a problem-free and, therefore, enjoyable run.
  • Each Merrell running shoe is carefully crafted to look right, feel right, and perform right, as the brand aims to present high quality that goes beyond appearance. Merrell running shoes are created seamlessly, successfully combining together form, feel, and functionality.
  • Merrell guarantees that their running shoes are durable, high-performing, and long-lasting. Because the brand places more focus on trail running, many of Merrell’s running shoes for men and women are built to handle the harshest conditions, even with repeated usage.
  • Merrell running shoes are intended to accommodate a variety of people, as well as an assortment of adventures. The technologies employed by the brand are also considered versatile as they serve the other footwear produced by Merrell, which are catered for different kinds of sports.

Notable technologies from Merrell trail running shoes and road running shoes

The various running shoes from Merrell are designed to give exceptional performance at the outdoors, in all kinds of weather. To do this, they are equipped with the most suitable technologies that allows the runner to be at their best during any running situation.

M-Select Dry

The M-Select Dry is a waterproofing technology that is used in Merrell trail running shoes and activewear. It acts as a protective barrier between the shoe (or clothing) and the environment by adding an extra layer of coverage, which is particularly designed to wick away water and moisture.

Merrell running shoes that utilize the M-Select Dry as part of the upper are effectively safeguarded against rain, snow, and puddles. Aside from that, the technology is also capable of shielding against wind. The running shoes from Merrell with M-Select Dry are constructed with waterproof taped seams so that it remains lightweight and suitable for high-intensity activities.

M-Select Dry gives twice the benefits to a waterproof Merrell trail running shoe by working at the inside of the upper. The material is designed to release internal moisture, usually caused by sweating.

A “leveled-up” version of the M-Select Dry is the M-Select XDry, which is specifically installed in Merrell running shoes that are intended for use in extreme wet weather conditions. The unique design of the M-Select XDry provides the runner with their needed protection while remaining breathable to allow release of perspiration.

M-Select Grip

At the bottom end of Merrell running shoes is the outsole, in which the brand uses a couple of technologies to enhance its performance. One of these techs is the M-Select Grip, an outsole material that is durable and slip-resistant, which is a perfect fit for Merrell trail running shoes for women and men.

The M-Select Grip, although ideal for use on trails, provides exceptional grip on mixed terrain. The non-skid traction it delivers make it usable for road-to-trail runs. The material’s durability is proven by its tear-resistant quality and adaptability to any kind of weather. Merrell running shoes with the M-Select Grip bottom surface are guaranteed a self-cleaning outsole, thanks to its angled lugs that effortlessly grip on different terrains.

Other Merrell running shoes come with a special variant of the M-Select Grip, named the M-Select Grip+ and the M-Select Wet Grip. Although it has the same componentry as the original version, M-Select Grip+ provides more durability, handles rougher terrain, and, therefore, allows the specific Merrell running shoe to perform greater because of the added traction. Meanwhile, the M-Select Wet Grip maximizes traction on wet surfaces, including mud and shallow puddles. The high-angled lugs in the design of the M-Select Wet Grip channel excess water away from the shoe, while the razor siping of its rubber increases the surface traction.

M-Select Ice

Another outsole material available to Merrell trail running shoes is the M-Select Ice, built with a technology that is specifically designed to effortlessly bite into hard-packed surfaces, including slippery ice, as well as slushy snow. The M-Select Ice features a unique tread that efficiently sheds water, snow, and ice, resulting in optimal traction and increased contact over the running surface.

FlexConnect

Some of Merrell’s trail running shoes employ the FlexConnect, a midsole material that enables a secure fit and a natural flex. As a platform structure, the FlexConnect is designed to support the ligaments and tendons of the human foot. It is made from ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), which lends its durable and lightweight qualities to the shoe. FlexConnect also uses grooves that make each Merrell running shoe stable and agile on uneven terrain.

FlexPlate

For Merrell stability running shoes, the FlexPlate delivers the necessary stability, underfoot protection, durability and integrated grip to enable a steady ride. The FlexPlate is connected to strategically placed lugs in the outsole, and it is made from a material that offers both rigidity and flexibility on the opposite ends.

As the FlexPlate ensures a stable ride, wearers receive protection on their foot and ankles against inward rolling, which could possibly cause injuries. The Merrell running shoes with FlexPlate also get a long-lasting torsional rigidity.

Air Cushion+

A lightweight and plush midsole material, the Air Cushion+ equips Merrell running shoes with all-day comfortable support, shock absorption, and minimal bulk. The easy-to-wear quality of Air Cushion+ allows the midsoles of Merrell trail shoes and Merrell hiking shoes be prepared for any outdoor adventure, as it offers the cushioning of a running shoe while also delivering the needed stability and control for off-road travel.

Popular Merrell trail running shoe series

Merrell running shoes for women and men are known to efficiently motivate wearers to go outside and get in shape. The brand has offerings for road running, trail running, and hiking, as well as wearer-specific features like neutral shoes, stability, and minimalist shoes. To help in familiarizing with the characteristics of Merrell shoes, here are some of their well-known series:

Trail Glove

The Trail Glove is marketed as a Merrell running shoe that is “fast, light, and balanced.” Its rugged design is equipped with versatility, while also being well-designed and providing value for money. This shoe series is one of the few of Merrell’s minimalist running shoes, and it offers a pleasant experience of barefoot running, as attested by many users.

Because of its zero-drop platform, the Trail Glove is intended for runners who prefer light trails with level to only slightly uneven surfaces, such as grass, road sections, and minimal descents, or those who are looking for a barefoot sensation while running. However, despite being a trail running shoe, the Trail Glove is breathable and comfortable; it boasts of a sneaker-like appearance that makes it suitable even for daily use.

Bare Access

Some of the Merrell minimalist running shoes comes under the Bare Access series. Designed for the road, the Bare Access running shoes strive to mimic barefoot running while still providing a comfortable and protective coverage for the foot. The shoes of the Bare Access series are perfect for speed training and long-distance runs.

The Bare Access is also available in special variants. The Merrell Bare Access Flex series is a collection of running shoes that use the FlexConnect platform to enable a versatile performance that connects the overpronator on both road and semi-trail surfaces. It also excels in various weather conditions. The Bare Access Flex comes in several special editions, which are named for the upper material used in the shoe: mesh, knit, knit wool, e-mesh, and waterproof.

Another member of the Bare Access series is the Bare Access Arc. Although similar in structure and overall function, the Bare Access Arc does not utilize the FlexConnect platform. Instead, it uses conventional midsole foam, making it more suitable for neutral pronators.

A third variant of the Bare Access series is the Bare Access Ultra. While still a zero-drop shoe that offers a barefoot running sensation, the Bare Access Ultra is an ultra-cushioned shoe, hence the name. This Merrell running shoe features a 17-mm stack height in the men’s version and a 15-mm one in the women’s version. The minimal weight and flexible characteristic of the Bare Access Ultra enables impressive barefoot mechanics as it provides full foot contact to the ground.

Vapor Glove

While the Trail Glove is Merrell’s flagship for minimalist trail running shoes, the Vapor Glove is its road-running counterpart. This shoe delivers a sock-like feel and a locked-down fit for maximum performance on minimal structure. Compared to the Trail Glove, the Vapor Glove shoes have a lower stack height, but despite a smaller ground-to-foot gap, they remain well-protected by the TrailProtect insole padding.

Pace Glove

The Pace Glove is a Merrell minimalist running shoe that is especially designed for women to use in trail runs and trail racing. Regarding the silhouette, the Pace Glove is similar to another Merrell running shoe – the Trail Glove. However, it has a structure that is meant to accommodate women’s feet: narrower heel, longer arch, and specific positioning of the metatarsals. True to the style of Merrell “Glove” running shoes, the Pace Glove offers a glove-like fit, as well as a zero-drop heel, which means natural movement is at its peak.

All Out

The All Out series includes a variety of Merrell running shoes that have different functionalities and features, but with one common factor: the high stack height and relatively high drop. Most of the Merrell running shoes in the All Out series have a heel height that is higher than 15 mm, and a drop that is almost always 6 mm. Compared to the Bare Access shoes which aim for minimalist running experience, the All Out, as the name implies, strives for the opposite: maximum coverage, maximum cushioning, and maximum protection.

Currently, the All Out series has a few variants: the All Out Charge, a snug Merrell running shoe that excels on tricky and slippery surfaces; it is designed for overpronators, providing a fast feel and allowing a powerful takeoff. The All Out Crush provides dependable surface traction and excellent in-shoe coverage, and its special edition, the All Out Crush Tough Mudder, is especially designed for Tough Mudder competitions. Both shoes are sturdy and reliable companions for trail running.

What sets Merrell running shoes apart from other brands

  • Shoe Technologies. Merrell running shoes make use of proprietary technologies that are especially developed to enhance and maximize performance, either on the road or the trails. These features also allow Merrell running shoes to deliver comfort, support, and protection, thus keeping the runner at ease as it promotes a worry-free experience.
  • Popularity. Despite being more focused, and pioneering, on hiking boots, Merrell running shoes are also relatively popular among manufacturers and consumers. The quality they have established has gained them a high status and following from sports professionals and fitness enthusiasts. In fact, Merrell running shoes have also received awards, including “Best Barefoot Shoe,” “Best Footwear Award,” and “Best Debut Shoe,” among others.
  • Pricing. The price range of Merrell running shoes, although not at par with other low-cost brands, are reasonable and competitive, considering the features and technologies packed into each pair. Merrell running shoes are dependable when it comes to shock absorption, traction, protection, and, sometimes, waterproofness; thus, they have proven their value for money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Merrell manufacture road running shoes?

Because Merrell had first ventured into the shoe manufacturing industry with hiking boots, it is a common misconception that they only produce footwear for the great outdoors. However, Merrell has since expanded their market, and today, they have running shoes that cater to both road and trail runners. The flagship model of Merrell road running shoes is the Bare Access.

How to clean Merrell running shoes?

Most of the running shoes produced by Merrell are uniquely constructed with their proprietary materials and technologies. As such, cleaning and maintaining its optimum quality would be a little different compared to conventional running shoes.

There are different ways in cleaning and maintaining Merrell running shoes. However, they do suggest guidelines to follow:

  • With a soft-bristled brush, clean your Merrell running shoes on a regular basis to remove surface dirt. After an extended and rugged run, use mild soap and warm water to remove stains and other patches that may have stuck to the shoe. Rinse all soap thoroughly.
  • Dry your pair of Merrell running shoes completely. To ensure this, open each shoe fully and remove the insole and laces. Air drying is the best way to do this, as exposure to direct heat and high temperature would damage the shoes.
  • Certain materials used in Merrell running shoes are recommended to undergo conditioning to keep their robust quality and also prevent deterioration. However, before doing so, ensure that the treatment to be used will not react negatively, as some solutions may alter the color and appearance of the shoes.

What other products does Merrell offer?

Aside from hiking boots and running shoes, there are other activewear items and accessories available from the Merrell brand. They offer a variety of footwear, including training shoes, trekking sandals, casual-wear sneakers, winter boots, and work boots.

The brand also recommends and produces clothing that go well with Merrell running shoes. Some of these include quick-drying shirts for running and biking, shirts made from cooling fabric, as well as graphic tees and flannel shirts for casual wear. There are also jackets and bottoms (pants and shorts) that are suitable for running activities.

Accessories for Merrell running shoes are also available, such as socks, removable insoles, and shoelaces. Shoe cleaners can also be purchased from Merrell, including treatments and shoe brushes. Other accessories comprise of duffel bags and truck caps.

This shoe has recently been added to RunRepeat. There are still not enough reviews for us to assign it a Corescore.
Corescore
A score from 1 to 100 that summarizes opinions from users and experts. The average Corescore is 78. More...