Merrell Bare Access 3

7.6
7.6 score
[Editors rating (7.0) + Users rating (9.4)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (7.6)/10

Our RunnerClick score is based on our editors overall rating compared to the user ratings in order to generate the most accurate and unbiased score of each product we review.

If there are less than 10 user reviews for the product in total, the weight of user reviews is decreased from 50% to 25% to make sure that new products are not rated too high.
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Editor rating: 7.0 / 10
User's rating: based on 3 user ratings
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Merrell Bare Access 3 Review Facts

The Merrell Bare Access 3 is the update to the Merrell Bare Access 2. It is a zero drop shoe made for the roads. Runners looking for a more natural running experience will like the lower ground feel of the Bare Access 3. The shoe provides a nice introduction to minimalist running for beginners. It’s a comfortable shoe with ample cushioning making it a great transition shoe for a runner looking to move to a more barefoot running style. There are a few changes in the Bare Access 3 compared to the shoe’s previous version. The mesh openings in the upper are larger. More reflective materials have been added to the upper. The upper’s overlays have been reduced in size. The fit remains the same and the shoe still performs just as well as the Bare Access 2. Keep in mind that the women’s version of this shoe is called The Bare Access Arc 3.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Can be  sockless
  • Very lightweight
  • Flexible and responsive
  • Great traction thanks to Vibram outsole
  • Nice wide toe box
Cons
  • Rigid cushioning (although some might prefer this)
  • Issues with blisters when wearing the shoe sockless
  • Uncomfortable arch support in midfoot
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The Merrell Bare Access 3 has a full Vibram rubber sole. The sole does a decent job on non-technical trails. But it shouldn't be your first and only choice for trail running. That makes sense, though, since the shoe was built mainly for road running. You'll end up feeling unstable and slipping if you run in wet, muddy conditions with this shoe, so if you plan on hitting the trails, best do it on a dry day. The outsole features flex grooves to enhance the flexibility of the shoe when running.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The Merrell Bare Access 3's midsole contains a fair amount of padding. It's a bit rigid, but the fact that the shoe is so flexible makes up for it. The midsole is mainly composed of EVA cushioning and it runs from heel to the tip of the shoe. The amount of midsole cushioning in the shoe is what makes it a nice choice for runners looking to transition to a more minimal shoe. The fairly thick midsole should allow runners to get a comfortable long run in when wearing these shoes.
The shoe will provide runners with a smooth ride. The cushion is firm but the shoe is quite flexible so the shoe doesn't end up feeling too rigid and hard.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The mesh upper of the Merrell Bare Access 3 has received the majority of the changes from the previous version. This version is even more breathable thanks to the thinner mesh with larger openings. The overlays have been reduced in size which helps to increase breathability and lower the shoe's weight, but they still manage to keep the foot secure and snug inside the shoe. The upper also features more reflective materials than the Bare Access 2 to improve visibility when running in the dark.

The shoe also features an M Select Fresh liner. This lining reduces yucky odors and wicks away sweat as you run. The inside of the shoe, lined with soft material, is quite comfortable. Thanks to the shoe's seamless construction, you won't need to wear socks should that be your preference.

Though, some runners did comment on the noticeable formation of hotspots when wearing the shoe without socks.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The Merrell Bare Access 3 weighs in at a feather-like 6.98 ounces. Even at such a low weight, the shoe can definitely go long. It's meant to function as a transition shoe for someone looking to ease into a more minimal running shoe. The durable Vibram outsole probably contributes the most weight to the shoe. The fact that the shoe is so light and the fact that it's still well-cushioned means that it's a good choice for racing. Most runners said that running in the shoe felt like they were running barefoot.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The upper of the Merrell Bare Access 3 does an excellent job at providing ventilation. In fact, the upper on the Bare Access 3 is much improved from the Bare Access 2. The upper is thinner and the mesh has larger openings to allow for better air circulation and ensure the inside of the shoe stays dry.

The inside of the Bare Access 3 contains M Select Fresh. This special liner ensures the inside of the shoe stays fresh and bacteria-free. Runners will appreciate this feature, especially if they tend to have sweaty feet.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Slipping on the Merrell Bare Access 3 feels like putting on a very comfortable pair of socks. That's why with this shoe, you don't even need to worry about socks! Aren't they expensive anyways? Keep in mind that it may take a bit of a breaking in period. Quite a few runners commented that they ended up with nasty blisters and hot spots after their first few runs in the Bare Access 3. Still, most runners, even those with blisters, found the shoe exceptionally comfortable.

In this version of the Bare Acess, the toe box has been widened a bit to give the wearer a little bit of extra breathing room. The heel of the shoe narrows and helps to secure the wearer's foot inside the shoe. There's a toe bumper at the very tip of the forefoot to protect toes from any impact on hard surfaces. Overall, runners felt quite comfortable wearing the Bare Access 3.
Style
Style

Style

The attractive Merrell Bare Access 3 is offered in a variety of color options. The colors for this model are a bit more muted that the previous iteration. It's less of a sports car look and more of a reliable sedan vibe. The shoe is still good looking enough to wear out casually. It's less flashy but still manages to look sleek and clean.
Durability
Durability

Durability

The Vibram outsole on the Merrell Bare Access 3 is quite durable. Vibram rubber has a reputation for being quite tough, so it's no surprise that it does the job in the Access 3. In fact, the mesh upper of the Bare Access 3 might give way before the sole ever does. Especially in this version of the shoe since the upper's material is much thinner than previous versions.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The Merrell Bare Access 3 is a pretty light shoe and offers a smooth ride but that doesn't mean there's a lack of protection. It's not a heavy shoe but it still has some cushion in its midsole. The EVA cushioned midsole offers protection underfoot for all sorts of training conditions. The Bare Acess 3 also has reflective parts to protect runners when the light begins to dim.

Some runners found that there was almost too much protection underfoot. They felt that the ground-feel wasn't as good as the previous version.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The fairly responsive Merrell Bare Access 3 also happens to be pretty lightweight this makes it a great trainer for speed work or a weekly fartlek runs. Some runners found that the responsiveness was lacking because of a lack of ground feel. This is in contrast to the previous iteration of the shoe. The Bare Access 2 was nice and responsive and runners found they could feel the ground underfoot while still feeling protected. The Bare Access 3 seems to have lost some of that ground feel underfoot which is surprising considering its minimalist label.
Support
Support

Support

It's a neutral trainer but the Merrell Bare Access 3 offers some support for runners. The mesh upper is thin but it still manages to fit securely around the foot of the runner. It keeps runners from moving too much inside the shoe.

Runners did comment that the arch support was apparent when putting on the shoe. This feature of the Bare Access 3 is a mixed bag. Some runners appreciated the supportive arch while others found it put too much pressure on their foot and made for an uncomfortable ride.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The Merrell Bare Access 3 is intended for running on pavement. It can easily handle a lot of road running. It does a good job at handling varied road surfaces. It will keep city runners grounded and moving forward. The shoe can also take on non-technical trails because of its outsole made of Vibram rubber.

It might be a good idea to avoid wet muddy trails is a good idea since the shoe's outsole does not grip well on slick mud.
Price
Price

Price

The Merrell Bare Access 3 has a pretty average price tag.

The shoe's cost is fair since it's such a versatile trainer that can be taken on different surfaces and used in different situations. The Bare Access 3 is a versatile shoe, but some runners who are using it as a transition shoe might feel wary about investing in yet another pair of running shoes. The break in period necessary with the Bare Access 3 might be a turn off for some runners who don't want to wait to feel comfortable while training.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The Merrell Bare Access 3 comes equipped with a grippy Vibram outsole that can effectively handle runs on the roads. The shoe does a decent job on non-technical trails thanks to the tough Vibram sole. The sole can grip surfaces even when they're nice and wet.

Runners will want to avoid muddy wet trails since the sole doesn't grip as easily on this type of terrain. Runners don't have to worry about hydroplaning in the Bare Access 3. It really does shine when it comes to road traction. You won't be slipping and sliding on slick asphalt in this shoe.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The very flexible Merrell Bare Access 3 doesn't have to sacrifice flexion for protection underfoot. Even with a rigid midsole cushioning, the ride in the Bare Access 3 is nice and smooth.

Some runners found the shoe didn't deliver in terms of natural ground feel while running. But the flexibility helps to offset this issue. Runners will feel efficient when running in the Bare Access 3. It's a great first-time shoe for runners seeking to go the minimalist route.
Stability
Stability

Stability

The Merrell Bare Access 3 is still a neutral shoe. Although it falls into that particular shoe category, it still keeps runners from experiencing instability. Best for runners who supinate or those without gait issues, the Bare Access 3, provides a firm platform for the wearer and great midfoot arch support.

Runners also commented that the shoe fit like a sock, many chose to run without socks in the Bare Access 3. They said the shoe kept them moving forward in an efficient and supportive manner.

For some, the arch felt like it was protruding too much and made their runs very uncomfortable. Many felt that the arch protruded even more than in the previous version. The prominent arch caused blistering for some and caused biomechanical issues for others.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The 0mm heel to toe drop featured in the Merrell Bare Access 3 makes it a zero drop minimalist shoe. The low to the ground design of the Bare Access 3 remains a selling point for the model. There are few barefoot running shoes that offer the same degree of cushioning and support for the wearer.


The shoe is marketed as a minimalist shoe for those who are barefoot-curious and will likely please runners who are used to very minimal style shoes. Who doesn't like a bit of cushion?
Key Features of the Merrell Bare Access 3
Key Features of the Merrell Bare Access 3

Key Features of the Merrell Bare Access 3

  • Durable and grippy Vibram outsole

  • Minimalist design

  • Improved Breathable Mesh Upper

  • Added reflective detailing for low-light conditions

  • Flexible

  • Comfortable and secure fit

  • Zero Drop

  • Bottom Line
    Bottom Line

    Bottom Line

    With the Merrell Bare Access 3 you can run through the city for miles. This minimal road shoe is a good choice for the runner looking to try out a lighter more barefoot-like running shoe. If you're not ready to jump straight into the world of barefoot running right away, that's no problem.

    The Bare Access 3 offers a natural run experience thanks to its zero-drop design. It also has full-length EVA cushion to pad your run a bit. Runners who want to ditch their socks and go sockless can do so in this shoe. Though, be wary of hotspots. This shoe might need a bit of a breaking in period. The Bare Access 3 is a fast, light shoe that is perfectly suited for a variety of distances. It's a good transition shoe for someone looking to dabble in the world of minimalist running.