Violating quality outdoor gear since 2013
I’m stuck in a city. My recruiter said “Dave, you can’t just live in a van anymore, you’re a grown ass man and you need to join the Air Force now. And that means being present when I tell you to do paperwork.” To which I politely replied “Ok.”
So this means I had to buy a pair of road running shoes, since my New Balance MR10s finally gave up the ghost (thank God). I decided to go with the Merrell Bare Access 2, given my infatuation with the Trail Glove, and respect for the line as a whole. The Bare Access was one of the most insignificant shoes to pass through our store. When the Bare Access 2 arrived, an attractive shoe that immediately made me ask myself if I needed a road runner, my only question was “wait, there was a Bare Access 1?”
Yes. It was a road running shoe made by Merrell for the Spring/Summer 2012 season, that got overshadowed by the more appropriately named “Road Glove”. The Bare Access was a largely insignificant contribution to the line, a mixed sole zero drop shoe. The Bare Access 2 is a more running friendly version of the shoe.
At First Glance
The shoe looks fine. They’ve dropped the omni-fit lacing system that I found so effective in the trail glove, and ran the accents all the way down the lateral edge of the shoe. This could be a problem if it restricts motion in any way, but it could also be totally fine. Reflective details on the top of the toe are helpful for those night time runs where you run directly into headlights or to help the police spot you from the chopper, otherwise the placement almost negates the idea of a reflective accent. If you want me to be seen at night, make the ribs on the side reflective.
The mesh seems very breathable, I’m even able to see my foot inside. The liner is comfortable enough to wear barefoot, but I’ll probably still wear it with an ultralight running sock. The shoe fits my foot well, and while it definitely has more padding than the Trail Glove, this is to be expected in a road shoe. The heel fits a bit wider than the Trail Glove and Road Glove as well. The outsole seems well executed with a pattern similar to that found on non-slip work shoes. This seems like a good idea, as it will help in slick conditions, but you don’t sacrifice much surface contact. The outsole is also divided up into separate pods. 1 on the first half of the foot, and three in the forefoot. Each runs the full width of the shoe, with a scored flex point running down the center. Over all I’m impressed with the outsole design, I think they put the same level of thought into it as the Trail Glove, and it should work well for its intended purpose.
After some use
I’ve been running and wearing the Bare Access 2 for about a month now, and am fairly pleased with it. I suspect I may have gotten a half size too large, because my 5th metatarsal head was always uncomfortably restricted (a half size too large would pull my forefoot back into the narrower part of the shoe, instead of occupying the roomy toe box). This problem was mitigated by just leaving out the last eyelet towards the front. The shoe performs as expected, the heel is loose, but it’s not problematically so. The slight bit of contouring in the footbed broke down predictably quickly (not a bad thing), and the sole has left me confident of my stride in a Michigan winter.
The things stink, but that’s nothing a bit of Mirazyne can’t cure. I can say that I will happily be running these until their dead, unless something better falls in my lap. Once I got over the initial disappointment of seeing some of my favorite features on the Trail Glove eliminated, I enjoyed this shoe. I think it is a valuable addition to the Merrell Barefoot series, and the minimalist running world as a whole.
What do you say?
*The outsole is great.
*The shoe fits all the requirements of a minimalist runner.
*Slightly thicker stack height for longer distances on road, or those just getting into minimalist running.
*It looks attractive enough.
*Comes in fly ass highlighter yellow.
*Put the Bare Access line on the radar.
*No signs of rapid degradation, it should last its 500 miles.
*Great buy, given the relatively inexpensive price.
*Potentially restrictive, but I may just be in the wrong size.
*Doesn’t provide the great snug fit of the trail glove, fits more like a traditional shoe.