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Weight: 8 oz
Materials: Jacquard mesh and TPU upper, EVA foam midsole, Vibram outsole
Best features: Affordable, versatile and stylish
Room for improvement: Runs slightly large
The standout feature of Merrell’s Trail Sisters collab is the cosmetic design. Trail Sisters is an organization that supports women in trail running, and its founder, Gina Lucrezi, hand-picked Colorado-based artist Sarah Uhl for her propensity to draw in bright, bold colors. Lucrezi wanted an eye-catching shoe that was loud and proud to counter the perception of women as small or meek.
The shoe features empowering mantras like “pursue your passion” and “success is achieved by those willing to try!” scrawled in Lucrezi’s handwriting on the vivid mountain landscape. A Merrell x Trail Sisters tag tops the breathable mesh tongue.
Aside from it’s stylish bona fides, the jacquard-engineered mesh upper is incredibly light and breathable, and hugs the foot like a sporty sneaker. Additional eyelets to the side at the top of the instep allow for a more precise fit around the heel and ankle. It’s even water-resistant enough to take for a light splash through puddles or cross a creek mid-run.
One of few female-focused trail shoes, the Antora features Merrell’s proprietary Q-Form 2, a compression-molded cushioning designed specifically for women’s feet. Wider hips make tend to make women pronate more starting at the knee, so the Antora’s design puts cushioning throughout the shoe to help maintain a better alignment throughout the stride. Air cushion pods in the heel dampen the impact from the initial footstrike to reduce rolling outward (supination) and softer EVA foam in the forefoot fights pronation (rolling inward) when you toe-off. The result is a stable and comfortable ride at a light weight. A rock plate lends extra protection, though sacrifices ground feel. The Vibram TC5+ outsole with adaptive lugs performs great on packed trail and harder surfaces.
This shoe felt great right out of the box, with its light and sporty fit and not-too-aggressive sole. It’s ideal for speedy mid-week trail adventures and longer runs on packed dirt trail. It’s comfy enough to feel great on gravel and a bit of road but would need more aggressive lugs to perform well on muddy or uber-technical trails.