Hopefully by now everyone knows that iRun produced a gear and gift guide for the Boston Marathon. Here’s a link to it if you haven’t seen it yet. As part of the fun, we produced an alphabets worth of stuff we love, and got elite runners to do the same. Merrell makes arguably the world’s best trail shoes and they’re M in our listings. What’s your favourite thing that we mention? Tell us in the comments section or on Twitter or Facebook and you can win the shoes that Alex Flint and his partner Anna Kobb write about down below. Want great trail shoes? Read the issue. Read this review. Tell us what’s Your Favourite Thing.
Anna Kobb on the Merrell Bare Access Flex Knit
When I first started trail running, I wore the road shoes I already had. This worked to get started, but as I grew as a trail runner the shoes felt clumsy, and I eventually purchased trail shoes. I’ve since tried many different brands and found what works for me, and what doesn’t. This week I got to try the Merrell Bare Access Flex Knit, and have found them to be a rare shoe that offers a lot more than you might expect.
The first thing that I noticed was the versatility of this shoe. It’s responsive and lightweight enough for trails, but offers enough support and padding for the roads too. It has a flexible 3D Knit upper body, a locking lacing system, and reinforced heel security. The flexible knit upper is soft and hugs your foot more like a sock that a shoe and the lacing system makes it easy to tighten and loosen the shoe in a flash, and is integrated into the sidewall of the shoe, to keep your foot in place. The reinforced heel band wraps around the back of your foot, offering additional support.
The Bare Access Flex Knit also has all the other features I like to see in a shoe: zero drop, a wide toe box, vegan friendly, both pretty (aqua) and practical (black) colours, and perhaps most importantly—a tread that grips the ground as you run.
Overall this shoe performed great, both on the trail and the road. A word to the wise, they fit big, so you may need to size down a half or full size. I recommend trying them on if you can. The Bare Access Flex Knit are an excellent choice if you want style and comfort in a shoe you can take anywhere.
Alex Flint on the Merrell Bare Access Flex Knit
If you run on roads and trails of every type, from sidewalks to muddy single track, it can be challenging to have the right shoe for every occasion without breaking the bank and your shoe rack. This week I’ve been testing the new Merrell Bare Access Flex Knit and it might just be the solution.
Merrell’s new Knit line might stir up comparisons to another brand of knit shoes that swooshed onto the market in recent years, but these are very different shoes with a very different heritage.
The Bare Access Flex Knit—and the Trail Glove 4 Knit, which I haven’t yet tested—are both vegan friendly and zero drop runners with a 3D knit upper. They share a lacing system similar to some triathlon shoes, which makes them easy to slip on and tighten, even while wearing gloves. The upper is a soft and flexible mesh that flexes and breathes really well.
One challenge I’ve had with lightweight shoes in the past is the heels not hugging my foot tightly enough. Merrell has addressed that with what they’re calling Hyperlock, a TPU band around the back of the shoe that grips your heel. It keeps your foot from sliding around too much, and is durable enough for you to slip them on and off without breaking down. The shoes do tend to fit big though, so you might wear a size smaller than usual. I recommend trying them on before you buy, or buying from a store with a generous exchange policy.
The sole of the Bare Access Flex Knit is Merrell’s M-Select Grip, whereas the Trail Glove 4 Knit uses a Vibram sole. The M-Select Grip is stiffer in my experience, but that could result in a longer lasting sole, and more protection for your feet from sharp rocks and roots.
Running on both trails and roads, the Bare Access were responsive, comfortable and gripped well. Their tread is aggressive enough for damp, leaf covered trails, but didn’t make running on pavement feel uneven or uncomfortable. It’s a perfect balance that makes these shoes a great choice if you want a flexible shoe, both physically and in use.