I stumbled across these shoes when I was trying to find a relatively minimal shoe for the muddy seasons here in the UK. With Inov-8 Terraultras being my summer shoe, I wanted to find something similar for the winter months and actually think I have stumbled across a bit of a winner. The Merrell Bare Access XTR trail running shoes are almost half the price of most trail running shoes (currently around £80.99 in most shops).
To ensure I tested these shoes properly, I have ran over 200km in them over about 15 different runs. These runs took me through deep mud, rocky trails, roads and waterlogged gravel paths. I doubt you will come across many terrain types that I haven’t tried them on. For starters, I am pretty impressed that I have not ruined them with what I have put them through!
These trail running shoes feature a zero millimetre heel to toe offset (zero drop) and have a real minimalist feeling. Despite having a strong sole which is about 7mm thick, they feel pretty close to barefoot running. I am not going to address any of the myths and theories behind zero drop shoes (be cautious what you read about this, your shoes are probably not what’s causing your injuries), but I like the feel of them, and that’s good enough for me.
I think the reason why they feel pretty barefoot-ish, is because the sole is hard. If you want a pair of shoes which will cushion and absorb your steps, these are not the shoes for you. While they lack cushion, I actually found this to be a good thing. It takes a few runs to get used to, but the hard soles forced me to take faster and shorter steps which will only do good things for my form.
These lightweight trail runners feature Vibram outsoles, so of course, they are super grippy. These shoes grip excellently to roads, rocks, tracks and light mud. They didn’t hold up so well in the deep mud, but I am hesitant to believe that running in deep mud can ever be made easy, regardless of what shoes you wear.
Something that really drew me to this shoe was the price. They are currently £80.99 in the UK which is almost half the price of some of it’s competitors, and I can barely tell the difference. While I think some competitors are slightly more comfortable, I don’t think they are £50-£100 more comfortable!
Here are my pros and cons summarised for these shoes:
· Excellent multi-terrain Vibram grip
· Zero drop
· Comfortable and well fitting
· Hard sole (although this is not too bad once you get used to it)
· Zero drop may be a con for some of you
· Can slip in heavy mud
I strongly recommend you try these out if you enjoy running in minimal, lightweight shoes. The best price I have found is on Amazon, check them out at this link.
I will update this page once I know how long they last. Please take a minute to browse around my website and read about the endurance coaching that I offer. You can join my free emailing list at the bottom of this page. If you want to see a particular shoe reviewed, please let me know in the comments!