When it comes to running, many athletes like the idea of being barefoot while they exercise. The reasoning behind this is that it feels more natural, and it can help improve your stride. Unfortunately, since we’re humans and not hobbits, the actual idea of running barefoot is both dangerous and ludicrous.
While you could opt for those weird foot-shaped shoes, we think that you should check out this pair from Merrell instead. The Merrell Bare Access 4 is designed like a standard running shoe, but it still offers all of the benefits of “naked” models.
Low Profile Trail Runners
When running in bare shoes, you probably want to avoid socks. After all, they can kind of ruin the whole vibe that you’re trying to create. However, standard running shoes have high uppers, which can rub against your ankles, wearing them down raw.
To combat this problem, the Bare Access 4 pair has a super low profile. They are still molded like a regular shoe, but they won’t turn your ankles into a bloody mess. Also, this makes it much easier to pull them on and take them off when you’re finished.
Another primary reason that runners like the barefoot approach are that they get better energy return from the pavement. Since there isn’t any rubber or padding getting in the way, you can transfer more of your forward movement into your foot, which helps you go farther and faster.
The M-Bound insole is specially designed to heighten this effect, meaning that you get a little more transference than you would with just your feet. Not only that, but it still provides some arch support, so those with weak arches can even benefit from the barefoot sensation.
For the most part, runners either head out early in the morning or late at night. If you fall into either category, you have to worry about safety, mainly from traffic. Fortunately, Merrell has you covered by coating the outside of these shoes with reflective colours. This will enhance your overall visibility for oncoming cars, and ensure that you don’t wind up as a casualty of good health.
Breathable Mesh Lining
Since you’re not going to be wearing socks with these shoes, you want to make sure that they don’t turn into a toxic war zone after a few runs. With most barefoot models, you get little in the way of ventilation, meaning that you will eventually have to leave them outside, lest they funk up your house.
With these, however, they come with a thick mesh lining to wick away moisture as it develops. Not only that, but the inside is treated with an antimicrobial material so that odours won’t be quite as pungent.
Finally, you can even get these shoes a little wet, and they will dry off much faster than the competition.
- Durable textile and synthetic materials
- Breathable and comfortable
- Thin insole for light support
- M-Bound midsole bounces back while you run
- Low profile design won’t rub against ankles
- No differential between heel and toe
- Reflective colors for running at night
- Thick Vibram outsole with improved traction
- Four color options available
- Multiple sizes to choose from
- Antimicrobial insole wicks away sweat
- Higher arch support than expected
- In rare cases, the heel may start to peel after a while
- Would these be classified as more of a road or a trail shoe?
- The traction on the bottom says trail, but the cushioned support says road. So, try them out on both and see how they feel.
- Do these shoes dry out quickly? Yes, thankfully because of the mesh liner, you can get them wet, and they won’t be soggy for too long.
- Are these all-terrain shoes?
- Technically speaking, they are mostly for flat conditions, such as asphalt or concrete. However, the thick Vibram outsole can work well on trails, so it’s kind of a mixed bag.
If you’re the kind of runner who is super particular about the type of shoes you have, you may or may not fall in love with the Bare Access 4. These are not quite as “barefoot” as some other models out there, so you might not get the same feeling as you would with those.
However, if you’re someone who wants the barefoot experience without committing to it 100%, then these will become your best friend. Overall, they are designed for runners who kind of straddle the line between barefoot and traditional shoe lovers.