Back story: Finding New Running Shoes
They say the third time’s a charm and, in the case of my last shoe purchase, I find the old adage to be true. I couldn’t wait to put my Christmas money to good use and buy a new pair of running shoes. I had read so much about the Saucony Kinvara, I just knew it was the right shoe for me.
Newbie tip: Bloggers and shoe experts may convince you they have found the best shoe ever, but until you put it on your foot, you won’t know if its the best for YOU.
That’s what happened to me. I purchased a pair of the Saucony’s in my traditional size 10 — my small toe was crushed (slight exaggeration) under the narrow upper. I tried 10.5 & 11 to no avail. These shoes were just not right for my foot.
After running most of last season in the Brooks PureCadence, I decided to give their PureFlow 2 a try. I ran in those for a short time before deciding they were just more shoe than I wanted. I was able to return those thanks to Brooks’ 30-day policy.
Last November I purchased a pair of Merrell Barefoot Flux Gloves for my five year old son based on this blog entry from Runblogger’s Pete Larson. I was extremely impressed with their flexibility and construction and, lets face it, great looks for a kid’s shoe. No flashing LED’s or cartoon characters were a plus.
Our experience with Jordan’s shoes, coupled with some glowing reviews online, led me to order a pair of Merrell Barefoot Bare Access 2 shoes. Apollo Blue, please!
Like with my son’s Merrell’s, I was immediately impressed with the construction quality of the shoe. And its a good looking shoe at that. This shoe fits my foot like a glove as if someone came to my house and made a mould of my foot. Merrell has built in some of the features that we’ve come to expect from a minimal shoe such as a roomy toe box, 0 heel to toe drop and light weight. The small arch bump may be a turn off for purists, but most runners that have worn these shoes, and I’m one of them, claim they no longer notice the arch after the first few miles. I suspect the purpose it serves has more to do with hugging the foot for the glove-like feel than it does acting as a support mechanism.
What sets the Bare Access apart from the ultra minimal crowd is the cushioning. I used to think that ultra minimal was the way to go until I actually ran in shoes with next to no cushion. I need a little protection in the mid foot and the 8mm cushion in the BA2 is just right. My first run in these was a 12 miler. I had been suffering from plantar fasciitis, but felt no pain during the run, even with the arch bump. As a matter of fact, all signs of PF were gone in just a few weeks with these shoes.
Another nice set of features that I would place somewhere between the fit and comfort category is the lightly padded collar and tongue. The thin fabric tongues that are found in so many running shoes these days tend to bunch up and be a pain when putting on the shoe. The little bit of cushioning helps keep it in place and protects the foot from the laces.
I got these shoes back in February, one of the coldest on record, and was a bit worried about the ventilation. I can’t say I had a problem with cold feet, even running with the temperature in the 20s. I have since run with them when temps were in the low 80s, and my feet stayed reasonably cool. You can run in these shoes sockless with their hidden seams to prevent hot spots and Aegis antimicrobial solution to keep away the foot funk. I prefer to wear my Feetures socks, so I haven’t tried going barefoot in these shoes.
This is a road shoe, no doubt about it. It’s flat with no lugs for gripping loose material. The Vibram sole is great on asphalt, but not so much in slippery conditions. I actually slid across a few black ice patches during winter morning runs. I have taken them out on trails, but never off of the main path. The thicker stack height kept my feet safe from large, pointy rocks, but I avoided muddy areas all together. I’m itching to get my hands on a pair of Merrell’s Mix Master 2 trail shoes for my trail marathon training. I would love it if the folks at Merrell made a trail version of the BA … Merrell, if you are making this shoe, I’m available for wear testing … US size 10. (Update: Soon after this article published, Merrell released their Ascend Glove trail running Shoes that were basically a trail version of the BA. I wore Ascend Gloves as my main trail shoe for four years. They later released a Bare Access Trail that didn’t stay on the market very long.)
Anyone that follows me on Instagram or Twitter already knows how I feel about the Bare Access 2 — I love it! The next road shoe I purchase will most likely be another pair of BA’s and that’ll be a while since this pair shows no signs of wear.
Here are a few pictures I’ve shared with friends:
About those shoes I purchased for my son … Jordan typically goes through shoes in a couple of months, but these Merrells held up through April when it was time to move up a size. His new shoes are Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves.
Now, Get Outside!
Merrell Bare Access Shoe Review, Biker Nate
- Merrell Bare Access 2 Running Shoes Review, Believe in the Run