Merrell Bare Access 2
The zero-drop Merrell Bare Access 2 is a minimalist shoe made for road running. The Bare Access 2 delivers a low-to-the-ground running experience that will please runners looking for a natural-feeling ride. The comfortable road shoe doesn’t skimp on cushioning, though. This makes it an excellent choice for runners seeking a transitional shoe. Barefoot wannabes can also wear the Bare Access 2 casually thanks to its durable construction and attractive design.
- Can wear the shoe without socks
- Lightweight construction
- Offers a flexible ride
- Provides excellent energy return
- Roomy toe box
- Stiff midsole material
- Not good for moderately to highly technical trails
Mainly built for road running, the shoe does work surprisingly well off-road. It performs poorly on trails that have been recently rained on. Should you encounter mud, it might be best to find a way around. Avoid trail running in the Bare Access 2 if it has just recently rained.
The shoe's midsole does have quite a bit of cushioning for such a low to the ground shoe. The material is a bit stiff, though. But the overall flexibility of the shoe is not sacrificed.
EVA foam cushioning runs from heel to toe and there's enough foam inside the midsole to please runners that are transitioning from more traditional style shoes. The shoe rides smoothly, promoting a natural rolling motion of the foot.
Inside the shoe, Merrell has placed a special lining. The antimicrobial AEGIS Microbe Shield wicks away moisture and reduces the chance of your shoe smelling like a sewer. The inside of the shoe also happens to be quite soft. The insole of the Bare Access 2 is not removable so if you use an orthotic, you'll need to slip it atop the insert.
The upper also features synthetic overlays which function as a kind of lock to help secure a runner's foot inside the shoe. The interior of the shoe is seamless, so the shoe can be worn without socks without the potential for painful blisters.
The upper also features reflective detailing.
The majority of reviewers found that running in the shoe felt fast and effortless. They commented that they were able to spring forward using their foot and didn't have to worry about the shoe getting in the way.
The upper also manages wet conditions quite well and water tends to drain quickly from the shoe which means no sloshy, soaking wet steps in the Bare Access 2.
The shoe widens in the forefoot area to provide room for the wearer's toes. The roomy toe box also reduces the chance of blisters forming at the tip of the toes. This is a great feature for runners who are prone to blistering, hot feet, and painful toenail issues. The toe bumper, featured in the forefoot, protects runners from black toenails.
All in all, the Bare Access 2 provides a great deal of comfort.
The shoe's upper lacks the durability of the outsole. Some reviewers complained that the upper tore easily after running for some time in the shoe. Their toes will create enough friction and pressure after several hundred miles and the mesh upper will break open. Unfortunately, this tends to be true of a lot of shoes. The mesh upper is just more delicate than rubber soles. Some runner's feet also have a tendency to push upwards and cause excess pressure on the material in the toe box area.
Also visible on the Merrell Bare Access 2 are reflective features. These help to keep the wearer alit even when it's dark.
Runners felt that the ground-feel of the shoe was great, but they also felt protected by the Vibram sole.
Runners will enjoy a good amount of energy return while running in the Bare Access 2. Some runners mentioned that they felt the energy came straight from their own feet. They felt that the shoe allowed them to harness their own energy. In the Bare Access 2, you'll be able to sense the ground beneath you while still getting enough protection from rocks or whatever else is underfoot.
Runners found that the Bare Access 2 was much improved from its previous iteration in this regard. They felt much more secure in the shoe, the heel was better encased inside the shoe and the shoe had good arch support.
Reviewers enjoyed runs on non-technical trails, on urban trails, and on surfaces littered with gravel, and found the grip was sufficient on each of these surfaces.
You'll feel the ground underfoot, but you won't be uncomfortable if you're running over obstacles. Keep out of the mud, though, since you'll probably find yourself slipping.
For runners who want to give minimalist shoes a shot, these are a great first-time option. The flexible nature of the shoe doesn't reduce the amount of support and stability. The result is a shoe that offers a very smooth ride.
The shoe also offers a great deal of midfoot support. Although, some runners did not like the excessive arch in the Bare Access 2. They found it protruded too much and negatively affected their gait. Still, the comments on the arch support varied significantly. It might simply be an issue of preference. The shoe's socklike fit also contributes to its overall stability.
Key Features of the Merrell Bare Access 2
The zero-drop Bare Access 2 is a minimalist shoe with a seamless interior so runners can enjoy their runs without socks. There's also a good amount of protection underfoot, so even if you want a natural-style running shoe, you'll still get the benefit of some added cushion. The lightweight trainer is versatile and comfortable and would work well for a variety of runners.