Merrell provided Believe in the Run with three pairs of Merrell Bare Access 2 running shoes to review. One female reviewer and two male reviewers put the shoes on and racked up some miles. This shoe is the natural pendulum swing from the overly cushioned stability shoes that landed us in the barefoot shoe craze to just the right amount of cushioning paired with a zero drop. This shoe has the zero drop and light weight of a minimalist shoe with the protection of cushioning that still allows you to feel the road. Goldilocks would say this shoe is just right.
Here is what Merrell says about the Bare Access 2
The best of all barefoot worlds, our Bare Access shoe has a 0mm drop to let your feet land flat, and uniform toe to heel cushioning – an ideal feature for longer distances, harder surfaces or transitioning to barefoot running. Its breathable upper adds to your foot freedom with its feather-light construction.
- Barefoot construction
- Mesh and synthetic upper
- Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
- External heel stability arm
- 0mm Drop / 8mm Cush / 13.5mm Stack Height
- Integrated microfiber footbed treated with Aegis®
- Merrell Bare Access 2 Sole / Vibram® Pods
What we thought
Jenny, Stein, and I ran in the shoe for about a month all of us have put over 50 miles on the shoe. The graphic below is based on a scale of 1-5 5 being great and one being terrible.
Stein- “Light as in feels almost barefoot. Flexible but tough sole. Great look, even with the wider-than-normal toe box. Snug fit in the mid-foot make these feel really stable with no slippage. Fast – I tend to speed up in these because they’re so light and I can access all the spring power from my feet (there’s no wasted energy or distraction caused by a squishy sole.)”
Jenny- “Felt like there was still a very responsive feel to the sole but protected from the elements–rocks, twigs, etc. Took them to the grass, dirt & gravel wherever I could and felt confident that my feet wouldn’t be bruised. There was a good amount of cushion that the dash & pace glove didn’t have but not too much where I felt like I lost energy in the foot strike. Very breathable but not to the point where wind cut through. I feel like I could wear them in colder weather and still be comfortable.”
Thomas- “When I opened the box, I was immediately pleased with the way the shoe looks and the materials used. They feel incredibly light on your feet and the ride is smooth from landing to take off. The Vibram soles provide great traction, digging in when you toe off. At first, I didn’t think I would enjoy the Merrell Bare Access 2 as much as the Skechers GObionics because they are not nearly as flexible. Through my runs I came to like the Merrells more and more and my worries were side lined. The fit of the Merrel is snug over the mid foot and wide open around the toes with plenty of room for toe splay. These shoes offer light weight, zero drop, medium cushioning, and style. Pretty close to a homerun for what I am enjoying in running footwear these days.”
Stein- “Very little cushioning and very flexible mean your feet and lower leg work harder. Not sure if the thin sole will hold up over hundreds of miles.”
Jenny- “This particular shoe reminded me of an Altra with its lack of contour. I like to see the forefoot, arch and heel areas…the silhouette of a shoe. Other than that, I can’t find anything negative to say about them. I wore them to work (a running store) and people were asking me where they could buy them!”
Thomas- “The fit around the heel is the only flaw I have found so far. I get a little heel lift.”
Stein- “Ran 50 miles spread over six runs, including a couple track workouts, and the takeaway is: Fun. Fast. Stylish. Great ride. Very natural. This is the perfect shoe for someone already into minimal footwear. I would recommend these shoes to a friend. Beginning runners should probably be careful transitioning into these for all the minimalism-reasons you’ve already heard, calf strain etc.”
Jenny- “Solid, minimal trainer with a good amount of protection from the elements. Tough to find to many options in a shoe like this on the market at the moment. It’s either barefoot with no cushion or more traditional shoes with anywhere from 4mm to 12mm drop with ridiculous heel.”
Thomas- “This year there are more minimal shoes offering road feel, light weight, stylish options, and cushion options. The Merrell Bare Access 2 are one of four other shoes that I am trying to decide on for my running shoe of the year. These are fun to run in and feel great. Nothing is better than to finish a 20 mile run and your feet still feel good. Merrell hits the mark with the Bare Access 2.”
Check out Runblogger’s review of the Merrell Bare Access 2 Pete does a great job of breaking down the difference between the Bare Access 1 & 2 models. Once you check it out you’ll know why I call him the Professor. The kid does his homework.
Bare Access 2 are available on Merrell’s website. More color ways are coming.