Saturday, February 9, 2013

Merrell Mix Master 2 | In-depth Review


After two months running on both trails and in the mountains of New Mexico in the Merrell Road Glove (review here), I realized that I needed something a bit more substantial underfoot for more technical terrain. 
While the Merrell Sonic Glove (review to come) is a great minimal shoe for trail running—after all, it’s the waterproof version of the Trail Glove—I find that minimal shoes with nominal cushion do not allow one to run quickly over technical terrain.

Here’s the deal: When I am running by myself, I like to pick up the pace.  If I’m running on a trail, I want to push the pace and feel my heart beating quickly.  When I’m done with the run, I want to be sore from my muscles working at a high level.  What I don’t want to feel is bruised feet from feeling every darn rock and stone that I step on.  If I’m (painfully) feeling every stone and pebble that I step on while running on the trail, then I can’t run very quickly.  Lame?  Maybe.  That’s my bias.   So, I want a bit of cushion that will prevent me from feeling every stone while still allowing me to feel the ground beneath my feet, and I also prefer not too much cushion or drop to prevent proper running form. 

If you still want a zero-drop running shoe for the trails, then I suggest the Merrell Sonic Glove over the Merrell Road Glove for trails—which makes sense since the Road Glove is made for the road, and the Sonic Glove, based on the Trail Glove, is made for the trail.  However, if you’re like me, and want to be able to blaze through a trail while maintaining a minimal ride, then let me introduce you to the Mix Master 2. 

Enter the Merrell Mix Master 2!

Note: I received these shoes from Merrell after attending the Boston 2012 Outdoor Nation Summit.  Merrell kindly gave a free pair to all those in attendance (100+), which is a continual reminder of Merrell’s generosity and drive to get more youth outdoors!


In August, I put about 35 miles running trails in New Mexico before I moved to Boston.  Over winter break, I put an additional 80 trail/road miles on them with about 13,000-14,000ft of ascent.  Up-to-date, I have 180 miles on the MM2.

Specs (from
  • Wide forefoot
  • 9.0 ounces in men's size 9
  • stack height: 16mm (heel) to 12mm (forefoot)
  • so, a 4mm heel-to-toe drop
  • rock plate

Merrell MM2 on the left.
Merrell RG on the right.

Back end of the MM2

Inside of the MM2. Note: the tongue is connected fairly high up on the shoe. Love it!

Lateral side of the right shoe.

Medial side of the right shoe.

The MM2 is amazing on trails.  The shoe grips well on gravel, jeep roads, and technical terrain, as well as mud and snow! Today is the day after Storm Nemo, and it was flawless in the snow.  I didn’t even need microspikes.  Speaking of rain and snow, I feel that for not being a waterproof shoe, the MM2 does a good job at not letting too much water in, as well as draining well when it does get wet. 

Furthermore, it provides just enough ground feel to allow for appropriate proprioception, but it provides enough protection that I can effortlessly run over rocks without feeling pain.  It was great for short and long runs.

At the end of this blog, I have pictures of where I went running in these shoes!

I was shocked at how awesome the MM2 is on roads.  If you’re going to use this shoe on roads, then it should be reserved for getting to the trail and back and not as an everyday road trainer if you want to maintain the traction on the bottom for trails.  Given that I was recovering from left Achilles tendonitis, I decided to log about 60 miles on the road with the MM2 (needed a shoe with a  lift), and I went on an 11 mile run at 7:50/pace, as well as logging my fastest road mile to date: 6:19 (a tough one, though, given that it was with 200 or so feet of total elevation change!  Can’t wait till the next free mile!)

Given that I have 180 miles on these shoes with substantial road miles, I'm going to say that these are very durable.  I mean, I went on a 10mile run today in the Nemo winter storm snow, and I had great traction the entire time.  If you use these shoes primarily for trails, I can definitely see being able to snag 400+ miles out of them easily.  The more you run on the roads, the more the traction will wear out.  Remember: this is a trail running shoe.

I think the Merrell Mix Master 2 is a fantastic shoe and definitely one of the top trail shoes on the market.  Merrell’s M-connect line seemed to be designed for me feet, and I have yet to have a bad experience in one of the shoes from this line. 

My only suggestion to Merrell is that they should put the Omni-fit lacing system of the Merrell Trail Glove onto to the Mix Master 2, as well as the option of a drawstring lacing system, which they have on their hiking shoes.  This would make it perfect, in my opinion. 

Overall rating: 5/5.  Well done, Merrell!!

Pictures from Winter '12 running in the MM2 in New Mexico! Note the different terrain that the MM2 can dominate.

From today's 10mile, Post-Nemo storm in Boston.

Yep, wearing shorts. MM2 is great in the snow, too!


  1. hello,
    It was indeed a very detailed review which gave more insight. As I am planning to buy a pair of sport shoes and not a regular runner. But, I am looking for shoes which are sturdy and durable. Hence, in a dilemma bw Nike relentless and Merrell MM2. Can you please advice ?

  2. Thanks for the great review! I've bought them (and also the BareAccessII) and I'm eager to try them. I also have the Bare Access Trail and TrailGlobe and so far I'm very satisfied.