Merrell Barefoot Run Bare Access
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: £67.50
Very lightweight, zero heel-toe differential running shoe with some cushioning. Marketed as an 'entry to barefoot' shoe, hence the odd name (makes me think of a naturist right-to-roam law), but also a good racing shoe for minimalist runners.
- Very light
- Some cushioning
- Zero heel-toe differential
- Strictly road use only
- Not very hard wearing sole
Obviously pros 2 and 3 could be cons and con 1 could be a pro, depending on what you want!
When I tried the Bare Access, I immediately loved their super light weight and simplicity, and had to buy them! I bought them for my attempt at sub 3:15 in this year's London Marathon. I ran it in 3:17:15, but that's another story.
Even though I do most of my running in 'uncushioned', 'barefoot' shoes (inverted commas for both, because just about any shoe will add some cushioning and the only proper way to run barefoot is in bare feet), I value some cushioning when racing so I can hammer along in a more carefree manner than I otherwise would.
The upper has a wide toe box to allow the toes to splay, and it works really well. My feet are quite narrow but with a fairly high volume, and the fit is great for me. The upper doesn't spread the pressure of the laces that much, so getting a secure fit without over-tightening is a fine art.
Only the green parts, the Vibram 'pods' are hard-wearing rubber; the light grey parts are soft, mid-sole material. Why the harder rubber doesn't at least extend to the big toe area, I don't know, as this part of the sole has got pretty chewed up from hard running. The grip on tarmac is excellent, but the lack of tread depth rules out wet trails, and the bumps on dry trails 'chew' soft parts of the sole, so they really are just for road.
Despite the downsides, I love running in them. They're a great fast training and racing shoe, and complement my other shoes well. I've got another marathon, the Kent Coastal Marathon, in September, and if I don't hit sub 3:15 then, I won't blame my shoes!
Disclosure: Merrell recently gave me a new pair of Trail Gloves because I post very regularly on their Facebook page. I am a fan of the brand, but I say what I think and I do post some constructive criticism. This review was recently updated, but most of it was written before they gave me the shoes!
Where to Buy
Here's what other sites are saying:
For distance runners and those new to barefoot running, the Bare Access 2 shoes from Merrell give you a barefoot feel with added heel-to-toe cushioning for protection from sustained impacts due to longer runs or a new barefoot training program.
Merrell Bare Access Shoes - The next-best thing to bare feet, these Merrell sport shoes feature mesh and synthetic uppers and the Merrell Float midsole that keeps you in touch with the ground.
- Eddie Bauer
If you haven't found the barefoot running shoe that you've always wanted then you haven't tried on the advanced men's Bare Access shoe. This shoe features a flat profile to enable perfect barefoot form, but 8mm of cushioning and a 13.5mm stack height offers plenty of protection from hard running surfaces. Now you can take your new minimalist outlook to new heights. Take the first step in the Bare Access from Merrell. PRODUCT FEATURES: Polyester mesh upper is highly breathable and durable Synthetic overlays add structure and enhance your fit, while small toe cap protects against stubbing Wide forefoot allows toes to splay naturally as you run Integrated footbed features 2mm of EVA for light cushioning, and is treated with an Aegis antimicrobial formula to fight odors EVA sole offers lightweight cushioning while full Vibram outsole delivers reliable traction and protection Reflective details increase your visibility in low light
- Appalachian Outdoors
Merrell's Bare Access Shoe is a running shoe for those new on the path to barefoot running. This shoe has a 0mm drop with added toe to heel cushioning. The cushioning protects from impacts due to longer runs while still allowing your foot to land flat and follow its natural motion.