Merrell All Out Blaze 2Review Facts
When the ordinary pastime of running becomes routine, many fitness enthusiasts look to alternative exercises to make their exercises more exciting. One of the most popular variations of this timeless activity is trail running, a combination of running and hiking that reinvents these two pastimes in a way that is as difficult as it is intense. With this radically different form of cardiovascular activity comes the need for a different kind of shoe: one that combines the design sensibilities of a running shoe and a hiking boot. Among the wide range of footwear manufacturers that cater to fans of this activity, Merrell is one of the best. They are very competent at understanding the needs of trail runners and adapting them into a visually appealing product, as can be clearly seen with the design of the All Out Blaze 2 trail runner.
The most important aspect of any serious trail running shoe is the outsole. By far, the single piece of off-road footwear that can make or break the entire experience is the underfoot and its ability to provide adequate traction; failing to provide this will likely result in an injury
on the trail. Merrell designed the outsoles of their All Out Blaze 2 with their high-quality Vibram material. This hard rubber is built to withstand both wet and dry environments, performing beautifully regardless of what road hazards are encountered by the wearer. Unlike traditional running shoes that have outsoles with a focus on driving forward momentum, the tread pattern for these shoes ensures traction from multiple angles.
In addition to the standard EVA midsole material that can be found in just about every modern running shoe, trail-focused or otherwise, Merrell outfitted these shoes with an Air Cushion VIZ foam pod. This extra piece of targeted midsole cushioning
ensures that the wearer’s heels are protected with a comfortable and lightweight padding. The people who will benefit the most from this foam pod’s inclusion are traditional street runners; since they often have a tendency to strike the ground with their heels while running, this extra padding can help them to transition into a more intense running environment.
The aspect of a trail running shoe’s design that is almost as important as its underfoot is the upper. This is the area that is most exposed to the elements, and the need for excellent protective capabilities is just as dire as the need for adequate ventilation. To accomplish the difficult task of providing these polar opposite properties, the designers at Merrell resorted to using a combination of mesh and leather. The full-grain leather
that covers most of the All Out Blaze 2’s upper half is of a high enough quality to withstand many miles of rough trail running and can withstand a great deal of punishment. Small gaps in the leather are filled with a cushioned synthetic mesh that allows for air to circulate inside the shoe so that sweat and heat don’t accumulate. It’s an effective balance of these two principles, although more focus was placed on protection than on airflow.
At just under one pound for each shoe, these are fairly heavy as far as footwear is concerned. They are certainly heftier than the average running shoe from a manufacturer like Adidas
, so individuals who are used to products from those brands will need to adjust to the extra weight. Fortunately, these Merrell trail runners are on the lighter side of the weight spectrum in regards to other off-road shoes, meaning that these runners will have an easier time breaking in these shoes than they would with other products.
In order to prevent the inside of the Merrell All Out Blaze 2 from feeling overly stuffy, small pockets of breathable mesh fabric were placed in between the larger patches of leather. This offers a meager degree of airflow that still pales in comparison to casual street
runners but will be enough to provide ventilation for the average trail running session. If the customer is interested in purchasing the mid-length version of this shoe that features a slightly higher cut around the ankle, they won’t have to worry about cutting off their feet’s access to fresh air. That’s because most of the extended heel collar is made from this same mesh material, offering a decent compromise between protection and ventilation.
While not as important as traction and durability, comfort is still something a good trail shoe should try to implement. Merrell’s All Out Blaze 2 offers a decent degree of comfort thanks to the extra care put into midsole cushioning. However, due to the increased focus on heel padding, this comfort will really only be appreciated by casual runners transitioning into trail running. Runners who are looking to pick up a pair of these shoes that are already experienced trail runners likely won’t appreciate this feature to the same degree.
Style is usually the last item on the list of priorities for a utilitarian trail running shoe. With the exception of a few outliers like Salomon, most designers of this footwear style tend to stick to a rugged aesthetic that isn’t meant to look very showy or ostentatious. Merrell maintains this same fashion sense for the most part with their All Out Blaze 2, but they do offer one stylistic benefit by offering a few different color schemes to choose from. Ultimately, due to their close resemblance to traditional running shoes in many aspects of their design, these shoes still tend to be a bit more fashionable than the vast majority of trail runners. However, these are not shoes meant to turn heads on the trail.
This is Merrell’s bread and butter. Spending any amount of time with the All Out Blaze 2 will reveal that these shoes are a solid as an armored truck, thanks in no small part to the full-grain leather that covers most of its upper portion. This material is extremely resilient to abrasions and can even resist water damage, although some regular treatment will be necessary to ensure it maintains this durability for months to come. It’s also important to note that the Vibram outsole material provides similar benefits since it is the part of these shoes that will come into contact with the hazardous terrains that are often encountered during a trail running session.
In addition to providing long-lasting durability, it’s equally important that a pair of competent trail running shoes protect the wearer’s feet during forays into the great outdoors. The use of waterproof and highly resilient full-grain leather for the upper half of the Merrell All Out Charge 2 ensures that the wearer will not have to worry about any harm while on the trail. The Vibram outsole designed to ensure omnidirectional traction is another helpful safety feature since it can prevent the wearer from slipping on the trail and getting hurt. Finally, the supremely supportive and cushioned midsole protects trail runners’ legs from exposure to repetitive stress injuries like shin splints since it absorbs the shock from repeated impact with the ground.
The midsole of this trail running shoe is the key component that drives its responsiveness. Without the generous use of EVA foam for its middle portion, the Merrell All Out Charge 2 manages to avoid feeling unresponsive due to its heavier weight. Something that also helps this shoe feel more energy efficient is the extra foam pod placed in its heel. Thanks to this one small addition, runners who like to strike the ground with their heels will notice an extra degree of bounce that can help to drive their next step forward.
Most of the support that can be found in the Merrell All Out Charge 2 is concentrated around the heels due to the aforementioned Air Cushion VIZ EVA foam pod. This level of support is mostly geared towards heel strikers, although its inclusion in a pair of shoes meant primarily for people who run with a more neutral style is confusing. It seems that this may have been a feature designed to cater to more casual runners looking to ease into a new form of exercise: a hypothesis that is supported by some other aspects of the All Out Charge 2’s design.
As a trail shoe, it should go without saying that the most important environment this product needs to perform well on is a hiking trail. Fortunately, Merrell comes through in spades with the All Out Blaze 2. Starting with the outsole, this trail running shoe offers the traction and durability to handle hundreds of miles on the toughest off-road surfaces. The midsole can keep up with every step thanks to its impressive shock absorption and energy efficiency. Even the top half of these shoes provide the necessary substance to ensure a safe trail running session since the full-grain leather can handle any abrasions with road debris. Whether wet or dry, flat or inclined, these shoes will carry the wearer through the toughest trails and mountain paths with a spring in their step and a smile on their face.
The average cost for a pair of these trail running shoes is on the same level as a low-end trail runner or a high-end casual running shoe. However, choosing particular color schemes can drop this price even further to the cost of a budget running shoe. Regardless of which price a customer chooses, the build quality and performance potential of the Merrell All Out Charge 2 is well worth the investment, as they will not need to be replaced for quite some time if they are properly maintained and stored.
Thanks to the Vibram technology that went into the outsoles of these Merrell trail runners, excellent long-lasting traction is guaranteed for owners of the All Out Charge 2. What’s even better about this shoe is that the tread pattern implemented into its outsole ensures that this traction is provided for multiple angles, meaning that runners will be able to maintain a stable grip on the ground beneath them even while turning sharply or encountering steep inclines. This is one of the most important parts of any trail shoe, and Merrell delivers in this aspect outstandingly.
Something that is likely to have a negative effect on a more casual runner’s first impression of the Merrell All Out Charge 2 is the lack of flexibility in its design. Unfortunately, the consequence of copious amounts of leather and EVA padding in its design is that these shoes are very difficult to bend. This will likely cause some initial discomfort until wearers take the time to break in these shoes.
While they may not be very flexible, something the Merrell All Out Charge 2 does manage to provide is a fantastic amount of stability. Virtually every aspect of its design encourages a full amount of control over the wearer’s movements, from the excellent traction provided underfoot to the tight-fitting upper portion.
Despite the additional heel padding provided by the Air Cushion VIZ, the Merrell All Out Charge 2 has a low heel drop. This means that the difference in elevation from the heel to the forefoot of this shoe’s midsole is very small, offering a neutral footing for the wearer. This is a perfect compromise between the two styles of footwear this product emulate since it provides support for heel strikers without losing neutral footing.
- Vibram technology infused outsole with multidirectional traction
- EVA foam midsole with Air Cushion VIZ foam pod
- Full-grain leather upper with mesh accents for breathability
- Multiple colorways to choose from
- Antimicrobial odor-resistant materials
- Neutral heel drop
When viewing the Merrell All Out Charge 2 as a casual street running shoe, it doesn’t reach its full potential due to a heavier weight and inhibited breathability. The extra attention given to its durability and traction make it more geared toward trail running, even if its initial visual impression is closer to these more casual forms of footwear. The ideal customer for this Merrell product is an individual who has grown tired of low-intensity street running that wants to safely get into the more dangerous and exciting pastime of trail running.