Merrell Bare Access Trail

9.1
9.1 score
[Editors rating (9.0) + Users rating (9.6)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (9.1)/10

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Editor rating: 9.0 / 10
User's rating: based on 4 user ratings
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Merrell Bare Access Trail Review Facts

The Merrell Bare Access Trail is the trail version of the Merrell Bare Access. It’s the same lightweight, barefoot feel shoe in a trail-friendly casing. The shoe features the same zero-drop construction as the regular Bare Access. It’s an option for a trail junkie who hits the dirt often and wants a fast, neutral shoe with good traction and grip. The Bare Access Trail is a comfortable, speedy shoe but where it excels with speed and agility it fails in terms of protection underfoot. Runners will feel like they can descend hills quickly and expertly in this shoe, but they’ll feel every bump in the trail along the way. If you can get past this hitch, it’s still a comfortable shoe that offers a responsive ride.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Durable construction
  • Good amount of cushioning
  • Excellent traction
  • Lightweight and flexible
Cons
  • Not as minimalist as it could be
  • Excessive ground-feel
  • Some runners found the midfoot too snug
  • Slightly heavier than its road running counterpart
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The outsole of the Merrell Bare Access Trail is outfitted with Vibram rubber sole. It also had M-Select grip for extra traction on rugged trails. The sole of this shoe can deal with technical trails with no problem. The lugs on the Bare Access Trail are 4mm and provide excellent grip on varied surfaces. The Vibram sole is long-lasting, as per Vibram rubber standards. Unlike the Bare Access road edition, this shoe will keep you stable and upright on whatever trail you choose to run. Whether it's dry or the trails are soaking wet and muddy, you'll feel steady on the trails in the Bare Access Trail.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The Merrell Bare Access Trail's midsole features a great deal of cushioning. This trail shoe contains UniFly foam which cushions well and provides the runner a good amount of ground feel. The shoe also contains M-Bound cushioning which offers a nice energy-return for runners. In addition, there's EVA foam that runs the length of the shoe which offers support and cushioning to the wearer.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The Merrell Bare Access Trail's upper features a fairly durable mesh that can handle some tough runs. The mesh upper is breathable and provides good ventilation for the wearer. The TPU overlays on the upper ensure the runner gets a snug fit when wearing the shoe.

Inside the shoe, there's also an M Select Odor Control lining that's been specially treated to prevent bad odors from forming. The antimicrobial liner ensures smells do not linger inside the shoe, even if you're a particularly sweaty runner.

The inner lining of the shoe is quite plush which adds, even more, comfort for the wearer. The lacing system isn't anything special but runners noted that they stay put and don't unravel.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The Merrell Bare Access Trail has a weight of about 8.7 ounces. It's fairly lightweight for a pair of trail running shoes. The Bare Access Trail is slightly heavier than its road running counterpart. It's likely the larger lugs and added cushioning that account for the heavier weight. The shoe still manages to feel very light on the trail and runners found they felt fast while wearing the Bare Access Trail. Navigating switchbacks like an agile pro won't be a problem in this shoe.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The Merrell Bare Access Trail has an upper that ventilates quite well. The upper is made to last so the mesh is durable and strong. It also does a great job at keeping the wearer's feet dry. Inside the shoe, the M Select Odor Control liner reduces the formation of foul smells by wicking away sweat and maintaining a dry environment. Runners who perspire a lot will likely find this feature quite useful. No more hiding your shoes in the depths of the closet to mask the smell!
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

A majority of reviewers felt that the Merrell Bare Access Trail was a comfortable trail shoe by all accounts. The Bare Access Trail has got a great amount of cushioning for such a lightweight shoe. Its interior is nice and cushy as well. The midfoot fits snugly to keep runners secure and in place. The nice wide toe box allows for natural toe splay. Runners will find that the shoe runs true to size.
Style
Style

Style

The Merrell Bare Access Trail is quite an attractive trail shoe. Just from looking at it, you can tell it's made for off-road running. It looks like a shoe that can take a beating. It's a lightweight shoe but it's got a rugged exterior. The 4mm lugs are visible from the shoe's side profile and look like they can grip any surface. Most of the colorways offered for this trail shoe are a fairly subdued compared to some of the Bare Access road colors. The dark colors are actually a blessing in disguise. Darker colors mean that mud and dirt are less visible on the shoe.
Durability
Durability

Durability

The Merrell Bare Access Trail's Vibram outsole is very durable. This brand of rubber material is quite reputable and is known for being quite durable. It's not very surprising that it works to prolong the Bare Access Trail's longevity. The 4mm lugs with M-Select grip are very tough indeed. The mesh outfitted upper on the Access Trail is just as durable. It's made to last through miles of running on whatever kinds of trails you desire.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The lightweight Merrell Bare Access Trail offers up a smooth, flexible ride. It has a fair amount more cushioning that the road version of the Bare Access so it's road running option for someone who's training or a long trail race. The midsole, which contains EVA foam cushioning, provides protection for runners by absorbing shock and distributing the forces of impact. The reflective components featured on the upper also work to protect runners. It's always a good idea to carry some kind of light if you're running in low-light, but reflective bits on your shoes might help you if your long run ends later than expected. Still, be careful out there!The shoe also features a toe bumper to help protect runners against obstacles they might meet on the trail. Stubbing your toe mid-run is never a fun experience and a toe bumper is a welcome addition to a shoe when you're running rocky trails.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Merrell Bare Access Trail offers quite a nice amount of rebound for the wearer. It also happens to be quite light so it's a great option for fast trail runs. Its tough outsole and durable construction make it perfect for off-road running and it can easily transition to the track or road if need be. Reviewers found that the shoe had excellent ground-feel. They felt the trail beneath their feet even with a solid layer of cushioning to protect their joints. Unfortunately, many runners found that there was almost too much ground feel. The cushioning didn't seem to protect their feet as much as they would like. The rocks and twigs underfoot were felt a bit too much and was cause for concern for quite a few wearers.
Support
Support

Support

The Merrell Bare Access Trail falls into the neutral category. Despite this, reviewers well quite happy with the amount of support the shoe offered. They felt stable when running in the shoe. The durable upper of the trail shoe snugly wraps the foot thanks to the TPU overlays. Runners felt stable and grounded while running in the shoe. The shoe is lightweight and flexible without sacrificing stability. The EVA foam that runs the length of the shoe offers a stable surface for runners.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The Merrell Bare Access Trail is meant to take on the trails and it can easily handle a variety of trail types. Whether it's technical trails or easy dirt roads the Bare Access Trail can keep up. The shoe can handle tough terrain because of its durable Vibram outsole and its grippy lugs. Runners will feel stable and comfortable in whatever type of terrain they choose to run on. The Bare Access Trail can also handle the roads. It's a versatile shoe that can perform just as well off-road and it can on city streets. Runners did comment that the ground-feel was a bit excessive. That's to be expected for a true barefoot running shoe but the Bare Access Trail contains a fair bit of cushioning. It's surprising that the cushioning doesn't function to keep runners protected from objects underfoot.
Price
Price

Price

The Merrell Bare Access Trail has a fairly decent price tag. Since it's an older model, it's no longer offered for sale in most locations. You'll likely be able to find it offered at a discount should you happen upon in for sale. Even at full price, the shoe offers great value. It can be used for trail running but can easily transition to the roads if need be. It can also be used for a variety of distances. It's pretty versatile that can work on trails or on the road. It can work for long runs or for speed work. It's also a fine choice for a race day shoe. Its ability to work in a variety of scenarios and its durable construction makes it a good value.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The shoe's Vibram outsole and M-Select Grip both provide excellent traction on the trail or on the roads. The Merrell Bare Access Trail can handle technical and non-technical trails alike because of its outsole design. The tough 4mm lugs on the sole of the shoe are made to handle tough trails and grip surfaces even when things are wet and slippery. The Vibram outsole grips the surfaces well and keeps runners upright even when running through puddles and mud. Even if the trail is full of mud, runners won't have a problem. There's no need to be deterred and change training plans if the trails are soaking wet. The Bare Access Trail can handle whatever conditions are thrown at it. The only hitch is that if things are extra rocky underfoot, you might find you feel every little bit of it with each step you take.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The outsole of the Merrell Bare Access Trail, made of Vibram rubber, is nice and flexible. The EVA foam that runs the full length of the shoe provides a nice supportive base for runners but the shoe still remains malleable. The Bare Access Trail moves with you as you run. You'll feel efficient while running in it. It's a great trail option for runners looking to try out a more minimalist shoe on the off-road. Its flexible nature doesn't hinder the stability of the shoe. There's support underfoot and the shoe fits securely without feeling flimsy.
Stability
Stability

Stability

While not a stability shoe, the neutral Merrell Bare Access Trail still works to keep runners sure footed on the trails. Made for efficient runners, the shoe supports wearers with a firm base made of EVA foam and proper fitting upper.

Drop
Drop

Drop

The Merrell Bare Access Trail is a zero-drop shoe. It promotes a natural rolling movement of the foot and offers a barefoot feel for trail runners.

Runners will feel close to the ground in this shoe. Some runners found that this close connection to the ground was a bit much. They commented that they could feel every little thing underfoot while running on technical trails. The shoe is not a totally barefoot shoe since it does contain a fair bit of midsole cushioning. The lack of protection underfoot is a major negative that might scare away some runners.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

  • Made for the trails

  • 4mm Lugs

  • Durable Construction

  • Vibram outsole with M-Select Grip

  • Lightweight and flexible

  • Breathable and durable mesh upper

  • Comfortable and secure fit

  • Zero Drop

  • Vegan Materials

  • Bottom Line
    Bottom Line

    Bottom Line

    You can take the Merrell Bare Access Trail shoe offroad and easily forget how much time has passed on your run. The minimalist shoe would work well for those seeking to transition to a more natural running style. For those not quite ready to go full on minimalist, the Bare Acess Trail gives runners a zero-drop experience with added cushioning.

    Quite a few runners did comment that the ground-feel was a bit too excessive, though, so be aware of this if you're transitioning from a highly cushioned shoe with lots of protection to the Bare Access Trail.

    The Bare Access Trail is a solid minimal trail shoe that can be used on and off-road. This versatile shoe can be taken out for can be used on race day.