Merrell MQM Ace

9.6
9.6 score
[Editors rating (9.6)] = Runnerclick score (9.6)/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.

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Merrell MQM Ace Review Facts

The MQM in the title is the short form for ‘Moving Quickly in the Mountains’ and this shoe is the latest addition in Merrell’s MQM series. This shoe incorporates the suggestions given by Merrell’s athlete ambassadors but has been made for the everyday mountain hiker who wants to take their performance to the next level. The Merrell MQM Ace blurs the line between running shoes and hiking kicks by combining technologies that give it lightness and flex performance. This shoe promises a lot of features such as the Air Cushion, FLEXconnect, and Dual-Directional Flex Groove EVA Midsole for a comfortable, protective hike in rough terrains.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

-Solid grip on wet and dry terrain

-Vibram Megagrip outsole that protects the feet from trail debris

-Quick drying shoes

-Comfortable cushion and toe box for normal and wide feet

Cons

-A ‘squishy’ sound can be heard from the insoles when walking briskly

-Temperature regulation in the shoe can be improved as the feet can feel chill in icy weather and warm while running in hot weather

Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The outsole features a Vibram MegaGrip with large widely spaced lug designs. These lugs help the shoe hold up even after rough use on both soft and hard surfaces but is a little lacking on very slick surfaces.

For the rock plate, Merrell used its patented “TrailProtect pad” which like its name did a great job protecting the foot from large and sharp trail debris. The characteristics and the pattern of the outsole are like no other shoe and a Merrell outsole is so distinct that it can be easily identified. Another feature which is pleasantly surprising is their M Select FRESH liner. Of course, miles of long runs and hikes usually will leave a shoe with an undesirable stink but these shoes surprisingly didn’t because of the antimicrobial properties.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The midsole has several proprietary features developed over many years at Merrell which is their USP. The midsole consists of a dual-direction flex groove with an EVA midsole This was meant to improve flexibility and agility to the shoe and it performs its task quite well. The dual-grooves provided easy acceleration on undulating and soft, sinking surfaces. In addition to these features, the EVA-midsole adds a springiness and comfort to the shoe.

The shoes utilize a patented ‘Kinetic Fit BASE’ insole which is contoured to match the foot’s shape to provide natural and flexible support to the feet. Many runners commented that they enjoyed the fit and feel of the insole.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The upper incorporates breathable mesh and TPU throughout the design. Many hiking shoes go with an EVA upper but the TPU has some benefits as well. It is a cross between rubber and plastic and can be very flexible, long-lasting and smooth to the touch. They also happen to save the shoe a lot of weight. All in all, the upper did a decent job in protecting the foot against branches and trail debris and seemed to drain well when subjected to a swampy environment.
Weight
Weight

Weight

On long and treacherous hikes, runners prefer a light shoe with just enough support and cushion to prevent injuries and absorb shock from impact. The MQM Ace does the above job well by providing the structure of a hiking boot yet weighing much lesser than the former. A reviewer commented that she carried these shoes in her overnight pack for a long hike and was very impressed by the minimal space and weight it had.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

These shoes did quite well in this measure partly due to its mesh upper and the M FRESH feature. The mesh lining is thin and stretched out enough to absorb moisture that is likely to occur on hikes and the light padding helps keep the temperature light and breezy.

The M FRESH present in the insole met expectations as its enzymes react with odor-causing bacteria to break it down. Runners who frequent hot and muddy trails will find this shoe does well in terms of breathability compared to most of its competitors. On the other hand, if you tend to run in the icy cold, it keeps you safe from freezing but you will begin to feel it after a while.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Comfort is not the strongest selling point for the MQM Ace. Their FLEXconnect dual directional flex-groove EVA midsole is a little stiff with an aggressive arch design. This makes the heel drop lower than the toes, giving off a feeling in a negative drop. For more extended outings, however, it’s important to note that reviewers did mention issues with blisters.

The shoe absorbs moisture to keep the feet dry, the insole is also absorbent, the fit is true to size, the Kinetic midsole offers a great deal of flexibility, and the shoe is lightweight. A lot of runners liked the quick break-in time for this shoe.
Style
Style

Style

Available in 3 colorways- Black Turbulence, Olive and Flame, the S-Lab Ultra for both men and women, it looks like a typical trail shoe but with a full-length Trail Protect pad. A lot of runners were happy with dark colors as they are less likely to look dirty and old. The shoe fits true to size according to the majority of the reviewers and they also enjoyed the minimal breaking-in period. Many reviewers appreciated the look of the shoe however many complained of a ‘squishy’ sound being emitted from the insoles when walking.
Durability
Durability

Durability

MQM stands for ‘Moving Quickly In The Mountains’ and this shoe is a part of that series to give you a great pair of kicks for your trail running needs. The VIBRAM outsole is known for its durability so even when you hit muddy or harsh trails, the shoes are going to be just fine. In fact, the Merrell MQM series is known for its durability and can last years for some runners depending on usage. The fabric padded collar didn't cause any friction.
Protection
Protection

Protection

Despite its minimalistic design, the Merrell MQM Ace provides sufficient protection. Present in between the midsole and the outsole, the proprietary TrailProtect serves as a barrier to prevent sharp objects from hurting your foot.

The Vibram Megagrip outsole does its part to provide grip over harsh surfaces and it works well on slightly wet areas but one reviewer commented that she felt a little under confident while hiking on slippery slopes. The EVA foam is a hiking shoe’s classic feature for a reason- it provides an amazing cushioning feel even after miles of hiking, reducing the shock of impact along the way.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Trail shoes do not need to focus much on responsiveness as speed is not a major factor here. The MQM Ace cannot be called superbly responsive but it does have a few features lending a hand to its responsiveness. The EVA midsole and the M Select GRIP outsole makes for a sole with flexibility, but no give or return, so energy tends to get sapped in the landing and push-off. The other major issue is the low drop which blocks the foot's natural forward gait and absorbs the energy instead of directing it to the toe.
Support
Support

Support

Those who require medium to high arch support will be pleased with this shoe but if you need extra arch support, you may want to seek other options. With its dual-directional flex-groove midsole, this shoe provides a good amount of underfoot cushioning and helps the shoe absorb light to medium impact from heel strikes.

Unlike many other trail running shoes, the padded collar of the MQM Ace does not cause any friction rubbing against the heel. Many trail shoes go for a heel counter which is a plastic insert to boost the heel cup and add support to the shoe. The Ace, however, substitutes that with a TPU band that provides stability at the heel to promote a natural footstrike.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

The MQM Ace’s ability to offer a reliable grip over mixed terrain can be credited to its Select GRIP outsole. Built like a classic trail flat, the midsole with its dual-directional grooves helps acceleration on rough surfaces and partly wet surfaces. While this shoe cannot claim to be the best shoe for wet surfaces, it can handle wet terrain decently well.

The M SELECT Grip and the upper mesh has proven to be helpful in keeping the feet dry and provides a secure grip on forest trails or rocky terrains. One user tried these shoes on a treadmill and she enjoyed the roomy toe box and was happy with the support offered. Although we could not find runners who tested the shoes on pavements, we would not recommend its usage there.
Price
Price

Price

The shoe is on the lower end of the prices in the neutral trail running shoe market. When you consider all the proprietary features such as the FLEXconnect, Trail Protect rock plate, Vibram Megagrip, and the Air Cushion, this shoe is considered a good value for money. Merell’s outsoles are also one of a kind and the patterns cannot be found in other shoes. Many runners also found their Merrell shoes to last for years, thus in the long run, this shoe is very reasonable for its cost.
Traction
Traction

Traction

There were not many complaints in this area as most runners were very happy with the shoe’s traction performance. We can credit this to the “M Select Grip” with 5mm lugs and the high-performance VIBRAM. Lugs of this depth definitely are advantageous in tough and beating conditions.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

Again, being a trail shoe intended for long, punishing hikes, a lot of emphasis was placed on support and stability over flexibility. But since the MQM line was created at the request of athletes who wanted a flexible yet stable shoe, this shoe with its TPU outsole and EVA midsole meets the mark.

The Ace has a comfortable foam midsole with FLEXconnect screws in the front of the shoe. A lot of shoes are able to flex upwards but not a lot of shoes can flex downward and the FLEXconnect grooves allow this shoe to do both which gives your feet agility when you’re trying to navigate a technical mountain.
Stability
Stability

Stability

In the midsole, you can see the Air Cushion right under the heel which creates a trampoline effect for the heel and feels great underfoot. As you take steps in the shoe, the heel absorbs the shock from the impact and centers the heel which brings a much-needed element of stability.

The shoe offers a signature Merrell fit which is snug in the heel, precise over the instep and roomy over the toe box. Some reviewers with narrow feet commented that there was more space than needed in the toe box. But for people with medium to wide feet, the toe box is roomy enough to provide breathability even after wearing socks.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The MQM Ace features a low heel-drop like others in this series with the intention of keeping the runner in touch with the ground beneath them. Because the midsole is made of the FLEXconnect material instead of a traditional midsole foam, this shoe is a few inches lower than other competitors. Nevertheless, the heel is stable and responsive which propels the runner forward.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

• Engineered mesh upper with a lightweight TPU coating
• Floating Hypercage for weightless support
• M Select FRESH antimicrobial in the insole to remove unpleasant odors
• Breathable mesh lining
• Air Cushion technology in the heel to absorb shock from heel strikes
• FLEXconnect™ dual-directional flex-grooves in the midsole for flexibility and stability
• TrailProtect™ rock plate in the outsole with distinct patterns
• 4 mm lug depth in the outsoles
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

As a reasonably priced trail shoe, the MQM Ace wins half the race already. It features a great fit, comfortable insole, amazing grip and traction make this shoe a must-have in every trail runner's closet. There are areas of improvement in terms of its grip on wet surfaces, noise emitted and limited flexibility. The shoe is versatile and does what it promises- allows runners to move quickly in the mountains.