Merrell Bare Access 4

9.1
9.1 score
[Editors rating (8.8) + Users rating (10.0)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (9.1)/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.
0
Editor rating: 8.8 / 10
User's rating: based on 4 user ratings
1 star
0%
2 star
0%
3 star
0%
4 star
0%
5 star
100%
Add your Rating
All Merrell Shoes
Merrell Bare Access 4 Review Facts
Watch Video Review

In comparison to other well-known sneaker companies, Merrell hasn’t been around for very long. Founded in 1981, Merrell has set out to create high-quality hiking boots for your feet. They released their first cross-trainer in 1993 but started to dabble in trail running shoes ten years earlier. Most recently, Merrell has teamed up with Tough Mudder, becoming the presenting sponsor for the event. Despite being the new kid on the block, Merrell is a well-respected shoe making company with an emphasis on durability. With this in mind, the Merrell Bare Access 4 is designed to be a minimal road shoe that provides comfort and responsiveness.

The Bare Access 4 is a minimalist running shoe that features hyper-sensitive insoles to provide runners with superior control while on a ride. Its thick comfortable cushioning supports the foot and overall weight of the runner, providing a great amount and flexibility and responding to the natural movement of the foot. Its robust, abrasion-resistant outsole offers durable protection and forefoot flexibility for a reliable running experience, while its breathable upper mesh is more full-bodied than previous editions of the shoe. This is a zero-drop running shoe that provides a great amount of cushioning, surface control, and overall durability that delivers a consistent ride mile after mile, time and time again.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Zero drop encourages natural running motion
  • Highly flexible and responsive.
  • Breathable upper keeps foot cool and dry
  • Thick midsole provides plenty of cushioning without sacrificing responsiveness
Cons
  • Less than ideal outsole durability
  • Minimalist shoe may not appeal to everyone
  • Not the most comfortable shoe
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The Bare Access 4 features the standard Bare Access Outsole found on every Bare Access model. Essentially, the outsole is an external rubber layer that adds cushioning and durability. The real technology on the outsole is the Vibram technology. This technology comes in the form of a set of pods that features high-quality rubber that is designed to give the shoe traction and grip on any surface along with providing stability and durability.

Deep flex grooves help provide the extra traction. These are located in the forefoot and help with the flexibility and overall responsiveness of the shoe during a run that can really be felt during toe-off. Comparing the Bare Access 4 to the previous edition reflects some significant differences. The deeper grooves between the Vibram pods may wear out quicker than the outsole of the Access 3, since the edge of the outsole catch the road a bit too well, which causes the rubber to separate. However, this may just be the price one has to pay for increased flexibility and responsiveness.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

With a compression molded EVA midsole, the Bare Access 4 is well-cushioned, minimalist, and with this comes overall better responsiveness. The MBound technology is meant to provide the runner with a better overall feel of the road and make it feel like the shoe is barely there. But providing comfort and cushioning means that the midsole must also be somewhat substantial. In this respect, Merrell does a good job of compromising on the midsole. A big focus seemed to be on improving the midsole of the Bare Access 4. Unlike the Bare Access 3, which featured slightly less cushioning, this edition is much thicker which enhances its overall durability.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The upper is constructed with a mix of air mesh and synthetic leather. Its durable, seamless upper allows for a great amount of breathability. Once again, Merrell put a lot of emphasis on the responsiveness of the shoe, and the upper’s flexible material moves with the runners’ foot as they run. The synthetic overlays wrap the sides and heel and are fused onto the upper unit without affecting the overall weight of the sneaker. The TPU material the overlays are made to help improve its durability and stability and helps secure the foot, as well.

Overall, there is very little change from the 3 to the 4 on the upper. Merrell found a design and a material that worked and stuck with it. The only difference is the heel loop, which has been removed from the 4, but this is a very minor change and won’t affect 99% of runners.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The Bare Access 4 weighs 6.4 ounces/181 grams, which is extremely lightweight. This is surprising given the plush cushioning in the midsole. It’s able to achieve this lightweight due to its thinner outsole. The light weight of the shoe also allows for greater flexibility without sacrificing responsiveness.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The Bare Access 4’s mesh upper and minimal overlays help provide strong breathability for your foot while running. Merrell takes things a step further with their shoes’ breathability by employing M-Select Fresh technology, which is an anti-microbial coating on the inside of the upper and the insole of the foot. What this does is eliminates bacteria and bad odors from the foot and socks while running, which helps keep the foot feeling fresh and cool. It might not seem like a big deal, and it’s something that’s not noticeable as the inside of the upper and insole looks like regular material, but it aids significantly with the overall breathability of the shoe.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Many runners have noted that the Bare Access 4 don’t feel all that comfortable when they first put them on. If a runner is looking for a shoe that immediately “fits like a glove” then they may be disappointed with what the Bare Access 4 has to offer. That said, once runners have spent a couple of miles in them, they begin to break in and notice the comfort. The toe box is very wide, giving the toes and forefoot plenty of room to move.

The standard lacing system allows for the shoes to be as tight or loose as they desire around the foot. As is standard with most running shoes, there are extra shoelace holes up top in case the runner really wants a tight fit. The midsole cushioning also helps with the comfort as the outsole helps reduce the shock when you’re running. So don’t be concerned if the Bare Access 4 doesn’t feel like the most comfortable shoe in the world at first step-in. and if they feel slightly stiff on those first steps. Give them a good half mile before judging their flexibility and comfort.
Style
Style

Style

Merrell offers the Bare Access 4 in five different styles and colors through their website, with more styles and colors available through Amazon. The overall design of the shoe is simple and sleek. The overlays make sense, the upper looks nice, and the midsole has some character. Simply put, everything about this shoe just works. This edition benefits greatly from the heel loop that has been removed. This shoe comes in just about any color that could be desired by the runner, so looking carefully for the perfect color will be rewarded.
Durability
Durability

Durability

Merrell is known for making durable shoes and they have mostly succeeded with the Bare Access 4, although falling a little short in some regards. As previously mentioned, the durability of the outsole of this shoe is disappointing because of the flex the grooves, which makes the outsole wear down much quicker than it should, taking away some of the grips along the way.

If Merrell stuck with the same outsole from the Bare Access 3, they could have achieved strong durability and still hit the mark in other critical areas that have been improved in this edition. But with the new outsole, this durability is lacking. You can still get 200 miles, and possibly even more, out of this shoe, but that’s still somewhat disappointing given Merrell’s history of making long-lasting shoes. There are no significant durability issues with the upper, and the thicker midsole is a winner, but the outsole falls a little short in this respect.
Protection
Protection

Protection

Being a minimalist shoe with zero drops, the level of protection offered in this sneaker is somewhat specific. It provides relatively strong protection all-around (for a lightweight sneaker) and keeps the foot stable to prevent twisting or rolling. But if one is not used to a minimalist shoe, they may find the protection to be a bit lacking. The joints and the bottom of the feet may ache a bit at first, not because the shoe isn’t doing its job, but because it takes time to adjust to a zero drop shoe.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Bare Access 4 makes the grade when it comes to responsiveness. This extremely flexible shoe encourages proper form while running. But this shoe is designed to eliminate heel striking and correct running form, and heel strikers, the Access 4 is ideal. If running lighter and performing a strong push off is desired, the Bare Access 4 helps runners achieve this with its overall flexibility and responsiveness. With just enough cushion to keep the foot comfortable, but also helping runners feel as if they’re one with the ground, this zero drop shoe is partially designed to provide a natural barefoot running motion.
Support
Support

Support

The Merrell Bare Access 4 is a zero-drop shoe, which means that there is no drop from heel to toe. It’s the ultimate in minimalist style, and because it’s a zero-drop shoe, the support is going to vary from runner to runner. Someone with high arches or those who like to run heavy or have pronation issues may not appreciate the Access 4. Similarly, for novice runners, a zero drop shoe may not provide the support needed to develop a healthy running style. But for more experienced runners, a zero drop shoe like the Bare Access 4 will provide a new dynamic running experience. If looking to make the switch to a minimalist shoe, the Bare Access 4 is a good shoe to start with thanks to the support and cushioning they offer.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The shoe is designed for the road, but as with many Merrell shoes, it can be used in many varied conditions and the Bare Access 4 is no different. As previously mentioned, Merrell is a product sponsor of the Tough Mudder competition, and their shoes are made to perform on the road, asphalt, rocks, the trail, grass, and even in wet and muddy conditions. Meanwhile, its outsole--while lacking durability--provides excellent grip on any surface.
Price
Price

Price

The zero-drop, versatile Merrell Bare access 4 is available for a fair price that makes it a great introduction to a minimalist running shoe. While it’s unfortunate they may not be the most durable shoe on the market, it’s also a refreshing—and affordable—change of pace for those looking to try a zero-drop running shoe.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The Bare Access 4 provides a solid amount of traction on various surfaces. Much of the traction comes from the Vibram technology on the outsole. These are sets of pods that are distrusted across the outsole to give the runner a great amount of traction over surfaces while also offering solid protection from overall wear and tear.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

One of the strongest points of the Access 4 is its overall flexibility. From its Air Mesh upper that’s breathable and comfortable while retaining a great amount of flexibility to its outsole that has deep-cut flex grooves that provide grip and flexibility to the runner, this is a highly flexible minimalist trainer.
Stability
Stability

Stability

Being a zero-drop shoe, the Bare Access 4 offers a great amount of overall stability. Those who need more stability in their running shoe could do worse than the Access 4, which is a highly affordable introductory zero-drop shoe for novices.
Drop
Drop

Drop

Zero-drop means zero-drop, and the Access 4 is just that: with no heel-to-toe drop, this is a shoe that offers a great amount of stability. However, those unused to zero-drop trainers may need a period of adjustment before feeling comfortable during a run in this shoe.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

• Zero drop minimalist design

• M Select Freshness tech eliminates odor and bacteria

• Vibram outsole with deep grooves and cuts provide excellent grip

• Lightweight and flexible

• Thick midsole perfectly blends cushioning with stability
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

If a runner is looking for a durable minimalist shoe, it’s tough to go wrong with the Merrell Bare Access 4. This well-designed shoe is comfortable, stylish, responsive, and stable. While the outsole may not be the most durable, it performs so well and comes at such an affordable price, it’s a great introductory zero-drop trainer.