Merrell Bare Access 2

8.0
8.0 score
[Editors rating (8.0)] = Runnerclick score (8.0)/10

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Editor rating: 8.0 / 10
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Merrell Bare Access 2 Review Facts

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.

 

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Can wear the shoe without socks
  • Lightweight construction
  • Offers a flexible ride
  • Provides excellent energy return
  • Roomy toe box
Cons
  • Stiff midsole material
  • Not good for moderately to highly technical trails
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The full-length Vibram outsole on the Merrell Bare Access 2 provides great grip on even surfaces. Some runners found it was a bit less proficient on more difficult and technical trails than its previous iteration.

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.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The Merrell Bare Access 2 features more support in the midfoot area for the arches. Some runners found the arch area a little uncomfortable, but the comments were mixed. Some runners appreciated the good arch support they received.

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.

Upper
Upper

Upper

The Merrell Bare Access 2's upper is constructed mostly of mesh material. This means that the shoe is breathable in hot conditions and does a good job at drying out when the shoe gets wet.

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.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The Merrell Bare Access 2 is a pretty light shoe. It weighs about 7 ounces. It's still a solid shoe, though. It's constructed with durable materials that contribute to its toughness. Even as a minimalist shoe, there's still some heft to it so it's a great transitional option for those wanting to try a more barefoot running style. The outsole is probably the heaviest part of the shoe. The cushioning is fairly lightweight but still packs enough padding to absorb shock.

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.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The mesh upper of the Merrell Bare Access 2 ventilates quite well. The shoe breathes effectively and sweat is quick to dry inside the shoe. The AEGIS Microbe Shield keeps odors away and helps to keep the inside of the shoe moisture free.

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.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

A lot of runners who tried the Merrel Bare Access 2 enjoyed the shoe's glovelike fit. There is no inner liner so running sockless is an option in this shoe.

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.
Style
Style

Style

The Merrell Bare Access 2 features an aesthetically pleasing design. Actually, it looks pretty rad. It comes in a sleek black and a nice bright blue. The bright blue coloring really pops against the lighter midsole. It could easily be worn casually. The Bare Access 2's black color choice is a really slick looking option. The silver detailing on the upper of both color variations really stands out and makes the shoe look current and modern.
Durability
Durability

Durability

The outsole of the Merrell Bare Access 2 is made of special Vibram rubber. This type of rubber is made to protect against daily use. The Vibram material ensures the shoe can stand up against heavy usage.

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.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The Merrell Bare Access 2 should have no problem protecting your precious feet. Even though it seems like a fairly minimal shoe overall, there's still a decent amount of cushioning underfoot to protect your joints. The EVA foam in the midsole protects runners from the impact of running whether they are pounding out repeats on a track or heading out for their Sunday long run.

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.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Merrell Bare Access 2 offers a fair bit of responsiveness. In tandem with the fact that it's a pretty light shoe, it can most definitely perform when it comes to speedwork.

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.
Support
Support

Support

The Merrell Bare Access 2 is a neutral running shoe. It still provides some degree of support, though. Reviewers were happy with the amount of support they received when running in the shoe. They felt well supported by the shoe's upper. The upper overlays lock the wearer's foot in securely.

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.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

Although the Merrell Bare Access 2 was built for road running it can still be used on the trails and for runs around the track. It may have trouble gripping very rocky surfaces but with hard packed trails, there should be no problem.

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.
Price
Price

Price

The Merrell Bare Access 2 has a decent price tag. Fairly priced it offers good value since it can handle a variety of terrain, and weather conditions. Its durable construction makes it a good choice for runners who want to try their hand at a less traditional shoe.

Traction
Traction

Traction

The Merrell Bare Access 2 has a very grippy Vibram sole. It can easily handle road running and is fully capable of transitioning off-road. It can grip surfaces, even if it is raining or has recently rained. It performs badly when it comes to mud so steer clear of trails when the rain starts to pour. On the roads, though, you'll be able to run fast without having to worry about your footing.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The tough Vibram sole doesn't negatively impact the Merrell Bare Access 2's overall flexibility. Neither does the firm cushioning mean that flexion is sacrificed. The shoe offers a natural feeling ride. A run in the Bare Access 2 feels natural, comfortable and like running without any shoes at all.

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.
Stability
Stability

Stability

There are no corrective features in the Merrell Bare Access 2. The neutral trainer is not meant to fix issues with overpronation. The shoe still offers plenty of support for the neutral runner. The firm midsole cushioning provides a supportive platform but the shoe does not feel overly rigid because of it.

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.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The Merrell Bare Access 2 features a 0mm overall drop. The zero-drop shoe offers runners the chance to experience a barefoot-like running shoe without having to deal with minimal cushioning. The shoe can act as a transition shoe but it can work equally well as a dedicated trainer for runners who prefer a bit of extra padding.

Key Features of the Merrell Bare Access 2
Key Features of the Merrell Bare Access 2

Key Features of the Merrell Bare Access 2

  • Durable and grippy Vibram outsole

  • Minimalist design

  • Breathable mesh upper

  • No inner liner

  • Good ground-feel

  • Very flexible

  • Comfortable and secure fit

  • Zero Drop

  • Bottom Line
    Bottom Line

    Bottom Line

    With the Merrell Bare Access 2 you can pound the pavement on the roads or head out on some easy trails. However, you'll want to avoid muddy trails since the shoes have poor traction in those conditions.

    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.