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5 5

Initial impression; these are tough, comfortable shoes that can sustain a good beating while not beating up your feet!!

Tread/Traction:

I was skeptical about these when I was looking at them because of the little oval nubs, but I saw a variety of conditions on the trail this weekend in the Old Rag mountain area of the Shennendoah Valley and they performed VERY well.

These things saw dry trail, pavement, mud, slush, snow, streams, rivers, ice and some technical scrambling (the top of Old Rag). Bottom line, these are FANTASTIC all-around. Great in the mud and snow, they didn't accumulate crap easily and the grip was very sure-footed. For rock, I would use a shoe with a bit more 'teeth' and there wasn't much grip on ice, but what grips on ice?

Sizing:

These are a bit big, but Merrell's typically are a half-size up from normal shoes. I usually wear 10's, but I am consistently a 9.5 in Merrells.

Performance:

GREAT 3-season hiking shoe. I put these through the ringer this weekend and they performed well. They were a bit cold when it got down in the 20's around the campfire, but warm the rest of the time. These were VERY comfortable and didn't hurt my feet at all. I was weighted down with 35 lbs. for this 'test' hike and my feet are fine after two days and 20 miles.

Waterproofing:

Foot in stream and dry foot... nuff said.

Tips/CAUTIONS:

Be VERY careful when switching to a minimalist shoe. Make sure that you acclimate your body to these slowly. I have been wearing minimalist shoes for almost a year and have run over 200 miles in Merrell Barefoot Access 2's and my achilles and calves were still a bit sore after this 20 mile weekend.

Bottom Line:

These are going to become my go-to hikers I think!!

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5 5

These things are just fantastic. SUPER light, zero drop, good padding with insanely good fit. They have a very wide toe box which allows your toes to go as wide as they need to.

I just started running seriously and I am on my 3rd week of training for a half-marathon. These shoes make running on the pavement bearable. I tried running on the paved road with my trail gloves and the texture of the Vibram soles wreaks havoc on my knees and ankles when I start to get beyond 4 miles.

Advice; size DOWN half a size from your typical street shoe size. For example, I wear size 10 in Adidas shoes, I wear a 9.5 in Merrell's.

Good work Merrell!

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