Merrell 1six8 Lace Review Facts
Depending on what environments an individual plans to encounter while embarking on a running session, different demands will be made on their footwear. Because of this, different forms of running shoes have been designed in order to accommodate these varied running terrains. Alongside more casual running shoes that are designed for running on sidewalks and roads, some shoes contain spikes that make them better suited for the track or field. Still, others are much bulkier and emphasize the protection and traction that is necessary for hiking or trail running. While Merrell is known for designing shoes of this last category, their 1six8 Lace shoes are much closer to a casual runner despite featuring many trail running shoe features.
Made from abrasion-resistant rubber, the outsole of the Merrell 1six8 Lace is similar in construction to both casual running shoes
and more intense trail runners. The material used is common among the more casual forms of footwear, but the way in which its tread pattern is designed evokes the look and feel of something worn for off-road running. One long vertical groove is accentuated with several shallower horizontal etchings, separated into small plates that resemble a spinal cord. The forefoot and rear of this shoe’s underfoot go for a more subtle pattern made up of several small bumps. The purpose of the spinal-pattern middle of these shoes is for forwarding momentum, while the omnidirectional traction provided by the front and back provide additional control
Much like how the outsole of these shoes combines design aspects from casual and heavier running shoes, the midsole has a design that incorporates different approaches as well. The resilient EVA foam used for the Merrell 1six8 Lace’s midsole is a staple among just about every type of running shoe, with its popularity being attributed to its ability to provide responsive and comfortable
cushioning without weighing a great deal. The lack of a significant heel drop is indicative of inspiration from traditional trail running design since this form of midsole construction is better for offering stability while running on an incline. Something that is inspired by more casual runners, however, is the FIT.ECO contoured footbed that provides an extra layer of EVA to provide additional arch support.
Perhaps the most intriguing and novel aspect of the Merrell 1six8 Lace’s design is its upper portion. Unlike many other shoes intended for trail running, a greater focus on ventilation was implemented in its design by predominantly using fabric. Synthetic leather has also been added to provide some much-needed durability in a criss-cross pattern that provides targeted protection without suffocating the wearer’s feet
. This implementation of leather is a bold departure from the common method used by Merrell in the past; in addition to the selective placement, the use of synthetic leather instead of the real thing helps to reduce the weight and cost of the entire shoe. As a result, this portion of these trail runners offers a sort of compromise between these two forms of footwear.
The cumulative weight for the average pair of Merrell 1six8 Lace trail running
shoes is just shy of two pounds. Clocking in at around one pound per shoe, this product may cause the wearer’s feet to feel burdened due to this considerable heft. While it isn’t much heavier than most casual running shoes, the additional weight is noticeable. Despite this, the design amenities made to the upper portion, and partially around the outsole, that are meant for catering to the casual runner helps to keep these Merrell shoes from weighing as much as many other trail running footwear models. Ultimately, this makes the 1six8 Lace feel like a lightweight off-road runner and a somewhat clunky street runner.
It’s tough to find a running shoe that is designed for use on technical trails that also features adequate breathability. Usually, customers must make a decision between one or the other. However, Merrell made it so that this decision no longer needs to be made since they designed the 1six8 Lace with a combination of sturdy trail performance and comfortable ventilation. While the faux leather
accents on the upper can be insulating and inhibit the flow of air, much of the surface area of this shoe’s upper is actually made from a lighter fabric material that can encourage airflow during a run. Even the inner lining of this shoe is reinforced with breathable and odor-controlling technology, preventing both sweat and foot odor.
In regards to comfort, one advantage held by the Merrell 1six8 Lace that is baked into its design is the increased breathability provided by its lighter upper. This reduced weight on the top half also provides additional comfort for the wearer by reducing the burden on their feet while running. Aside from this incidental amount of comfort, Merrell included some features into this trail runner’s design specifically geared toward improving the way they feel when worn. This includes additional padding around the tongue and heel collar, which helps to prevent friction burns
, and an extremely impressive EVA contoured footbed. Because of this particular feature, many customers have stated that these shoes are perfect for wearing in situations where an individual needs to be on their feet for the entire day.
For the most part, Merrell is not a brand of footwear that attracts buyers because of their fashion sense. As makers of hiking and trail running accessories primarily, they are well-known for the quality of their products’ overall construction without much emphasis being placed on their sense of style. However, the 1six8 Lace seems to be an attempt on their part to branch out into more fashionable forms of footwear, from it’s unconventional name to the zig-zag design of its upper. Being an awkward middle ground between sneakers and hikers, this product has a tough hurdle to pass simply due to its entirely unique design. And while Merrell makes a solid effort with the presence of multiple colorways to choose from, these shoes can’t hold a candle to stylish offerings from Nike or Adidas.
In the pursuit of a compromise between two fundamentally different forms of footwear, Merrell falls into the all-too-common design trap of providing a mediocre experience in multiple categories without feeling truly great in a single one. Nowhere is this more evident than in terms of its overall durability. The use of fabric in lieu of foam padding or animal skin for its upper means that the top half of the 1six8 Lace won’t be able to withstand the same pressures as most other trail running shoes, especially other products from Merrell. The bottom half apparently doesn’t fare much better, at least according to one online reviewer. It appears that these shoes really only have enough durability to adequately handle low-intensity trails and casual street environments.
Much like how the overall durability of these shoes will be disappointing to many serious trail runners and hikers, the same can be said for its ability to protect the wearer’s feet. There’s simply no way for the thin fabric that covers most of its upper half to provide an adequate level of defense for the wearer’s feet in the event of falling debris. The Merrell 1six8 Lace doesn’t even offer suitable protection from the rain, with the foam and fabric materials absorbing any moisture like a sponge and taking a very long time to dry out again. The one thing that these shoes can offer for the wearer in terms of protection is enough underfoot stability to avoid pronation issues and repetitive stress injuries.
Any pair of running shoes that incorporates EVA cushioning for its midsole is going to have an impressive amount of responsiveness due to the benefits that material provides in terms of density and energy dispersal. However, the Merrell 1six8 Lace takes it a step further by including additional EVA material inside these shoes along the footbed. Although primarily intended for use as an extra layer of comfortable cushion, this footbed works beautifully in conjunction with the midsole to provide a highly responsive ride. Couple that with the reduced weight of these shoes from the mostly fabric upper and the result is a surprisingly fast shoe.
Arch support in particular has been greatly emphasized in the design of these Merrell trail running shoes, with additional material being devoted to correcting gait issues near the midfoot having extra support as a fringe benefit. The mostly flat heel drop of the 1six8 Lace also improves its feeling of support across the rest of the wearer’s foot since it becomes much easier to distribute the runner’s body weight evenly across the entirety of their underfoot. Even for trail shoes, this Merrell product is surprisingly supportive.
Upon learning of the manufacturer of this running shoe, the average customer may assume that these are on par with most other trail-focused footwear products due to Merrell’s impressive pedigree. And in truth, there are some aspects of this shoe’s outsole and midsole that allow it to handle some of these forms of terrain without much difficulty. However, a lack of solid durability or protective features around the top half of the 1six8 Lace make it a bad idea to take these shoes on any serious technical trails. The best terrain for these runners is a mostly flat and unobstructed trail.
Although the passing of time and the discontinued production of this particular Merrell shoe model means that finding some sizes and colorways of this product can be difficult, the 1six8 Lace has the benefit of being sold at an extremely reasonable price. In fact, many of its faults can be forgiven based on the fact that it is sold at the same price point as many budget running shoes; when compared to that catalogue of products, these shoes blow many of them out of the water.
The outsole of the Merrell 1six8 Lace was designed with a tread pattern that is intended to provide excellent traction on surfaces where maintaining a solid grip on the ground can be the difference between life and death. While that may sound like an exaggeration, the truth is that trail running can be a life-threatening pastime, so superior traction is extremely important. The bad news is that while these shoes do offer decent traction, the lifespan is too short for it to be used for more than a few months of regular trail running.
Trail running shoes are normally very rigid and inflexible due to the considerable emphasis placed on providing adequate cushion and protection when designing them. However, since the Merrell 1six8 Lace is a product that adopts more of a casual running shoe style, a bit more flexibility is present in its design. However, stability still plays a much larger role.
As mentioned above, stability was a major focus in this shoe’s design. Thanks to extra arch support and an additional layer of EVA foam used as a footbed, these shoes are able to provide enough control and slip protection to ensure an extremely stable running experience.
It is difficult to find specific information about the heel drop of the Merrell 1six8 Lace, but a visual estimate would place it very low. This is a stylistic choice that is often found among more neutral-footed trail runners, which helps these shoes to feel more stable on rough terrain. However, it will lead to some initial discomfort for casual runners who are used to more heel cushion in their running shoes.
- Ridged outsole for providing increased traction on harsh terrain
- EVA foam midsole and internal footbed
- Fabric upper with accents of faux leather
- Arch support and neutral heel drop
It’s difficult to find the appropriate demographic that would get the most out of this product. Trail runners will be disappointed by the lack of protection and durability included in the design of the Merrell 1six8, and casual runners won’t like the awkward style and treading. Ultimately, the person who would get the most out of these shoes is one who is looking for a casual street runner that can handle some trail environments at a budget price.