Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Shoes

Merrell Bare Access Trail Trail-Running Shoe (Fall 2014)

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

8.3 oz / 0mm drop / $100

The Dirt: The zero-drop Bare Access Trail is a barely-there, minimalist shoe with few bells and whistles. The narrowly spaced, 4mm lugs allow for easy cruising on dry trail (not so much in mud).

The thin, flexible midsole is great for those who relish ground feel on the trail. Cushioning is every bit as minimal as the rest of the shoe, so we found it ideal for short, speedy runs where agility is a priority.

Best For: Dry, moderately technical terrain; distances up to 10 miles; those new to minimal or zero-drop footwear.

Fit: True to size, albeit snug through the midfoot; good for narrow-footed runners.

 

Tester Raves

  • “I was in love with this minimalist shoe the first time out … for how I felt connected to the ground, as well as for the speed and relative comfort. Rugged ups and downs didn’t seem to be a chore, and there was ample traction to handle sections of loose rock.”
    —Nicole Blouin
  • “Overall, the shoe performed well. It breathed well, dried well and provided a comfortable ride. The fit was probably the greatest attribute. The sole was just stiff enough while allowing for plenty of flexibility when needed. Merrell scores an ‘almost perfect’ score in my book, with the phrase ‘keep ‘em dry’ in the comments section.”
    —John Taylor
  • “I liked how light and low-profile the shoes are. They didn’t take any wearing in. The sole is flexible, the lugs grabby on dry surfaces and the fabric upper is a breathable mesh that allows for ventilation and quick drying.”
    —Jen Burn

 

Testers on Fit

  • “I was excited to find that the Bare Access was more true-to-size than the last pair of Merrells I tested, which were slightly too short.”
    —Nicole Blouin
  • “The shoe fit was true.”
    —John Taylor
  • “They are snug in the forefoot and run a little small. These shoes would be excellent for someone with narrow feet who needs agility, breathability and minimal cushioning.”
    —Jen Burn

 

Testers on Tread

  • “The tread was the biggest disappointing factor. After running for a good distance in muddy conditions, the mud caked around the lugs without falling off. Eventually the tread was nonexistent and conditions became slippery and dangerous. However, absent the mud, the shoe was very comfortable and performed well. I will use these shoes in dry, fast areas, and on less technical runs.”
    —John Taylor
  • “This is a good technical trail shoe that would perform well on just about any terrain. When [my trail run along the Piedra River in the San Juans] got a little twisty, the Bare Access felt very responsive—I’m guessing because of the snug fit and the flexible front. It has a definite trail-oriented outsole, so bring on the wet trail and slick rocks.”
    —Nicole Blouin
  • “These would be perfect for racing on dry, dirt trails or roads that aren’t too technical. The lugs weren’t amazing in the mud—it got a little slick.”
    —Jen Burn

 

Testers on Downsides

  • “One minor negative: small rocks stuck in the tread.”
    —Nicole Blouin
  • “I didn’t like how snug the shoes are in the forefoot. I felt like my toes were hitting the front of the shoe and my feet felt kind of claustrophobic.”
    —Jen Burn