Now what make me write my first impressions after only 30K, well I had to do it sometime and I have a few things that I feel needs to be said about them.
The fit first of all is gorgeous for a closed shoe and so much better than the original trail glove, I am now able to comfortably wear these shoes, where the originals nearly killed my forefoot. I did a locklace mod as the first thing and that really is an improvement too I think, as it introduce a little give in the lacing and a more dynamic fit.
The shoe is zero drop and with a 9,5 mm stack hight , at least for me quite a tall shoe, the inclusion of a rockplate in the forefoot makes it a rather dull ride from a ground feel point of view, compared to say a pair of seeyas, but they are made for rougher terrain and out there the rock plate is welcome, I really think Merrell have found a good mix between protection and ground feel in this one, the rock plate is flexible enough to offer a decent amount of ground feel and protective enough to take the brunt of the worst impacts.
That said if you are used to traditional trail shoes, these will be tough on your feet.
The sole is one of my gripes with this shoe, when running in wet, muddy or snowy conditions it loose all traction way too quick, I have come to consider it a dry terrain shoe and this is one area where Merrell still have some work to do, the minimalist Inov8 and the vibram spyridon are way ahead here.
As already mentioned it has a very flexible upper and a very comfortable fit, I am mostly a barefoot or toeshoe guy and the fit on these seems to be good enough for me to wear them without too much discomfort, which is quite a compliment to the fit.
I have been running in them wet for 3 hours straight and they drain fast and the upper does not trap a lot of water, thus they remain relatively light when running. the toe guard adds plenty of abrasion resistance to the front of the shoe, but he upper has a serious durability issue on the mesh portion of the shoe.
To the left is a picture of the arch portion of the mesh after just 30K, granted 30K of the roughest terrain you can put any shoe through, but I would expect a trail shoe to handle just that.
The mesh have not been torn completely yet, but it is so thin now that I my finger would go straight through it if I pushed from the inside.
To my mind that is performance way below acceptable from any shoe.
I will now go through the tedious process of forwarding my findings to Merrell and ask them if they think this is an acceptable performance from their line of shoes and I promise to update this post as soon as I receive a response, but for now, I can hardly recommend this shoe and would recommend people to steer well clear of it. Which is a real shame, because it has he potential to become an amazing shoe and Merrell got so many things right with it.