I sing the praises of minimalist shoes every chance I get. They’re great at strengthening your legs and feet, but it can be harder on your body at first and requires some adjustment. Merrell recognizes this, and their M-Connect line isn’t just for super minimal shoes. The Merrell Bare Access 2 shoes give you the qualities of a minimalist shoe, but it has a slightly thicker sole to make it easier on your feet in the transition. Does it walk that line between just enough shoe and too much shoe? Read on to find out!
In many ways, this shoe is like the slightly thicker cousin of the Road Glove 2. They have similar heel cups, toe caps, and midfoot designs, with the lacing system looking more traditional in the Bare Access 2. The sole is also by Vibram, and the upper is thin layers of material. However, there is definitely more foam rubber underfoot, giving the shoe a cushier feel. Where the Road Glove 2 is fairly unforgiving if you land too hard, the Merrell Bare Access 2 absorbs the shock better. The tread is also less smooth than the Road Glove, and while I wouldn’t advocate hitting a rough trail in the Bare Access 2, they would be fine on roads and well-groomed trails.
Besides being a good transition shoe into minimalism, the Merrell Bare Access 2 is also an excellent shoe if you need a bit more cushion on long runs. What feels good on a three-mile run may feel awful on a 13-mile run, and you don’t want to find that out at mile 7 when you’re 6 miles from home! This is also a great shoe for non-running adventures where you’ll be on your feet all day. I used these when I traveled to Las Vegas for CES, and they were awesome travel sneakers. Once you start wearing zero drop, or nearly zero drop shoes, it is hard to turn back to raised heels, and so these shoes are great for times when you just want a lightweight, comfortable, all day shoe.
The Merrell Bare Access 2 is a great shoe. It’s lightweight, zero drop, has a tough Vibram sole, and is comfortable for athletics as well as everyday life. Whether you’re looking for something to ease the transition to minimalism, or just want a shoe that gives your feet a bit of softness, you’ll find a strong contender in the Bare Access 2!
Here’s a video overview of the Merrell Bare Access 2 as well:
MSRP: $90 from Merrell
What I liked: Zero drop; well constructed but lightweight upper; good tread on the soles
What Needs Improvement: Nothing