I remember looking at my toes and thinking that I looked stupid. This was years ago. I had just started exploring the world of minimal running shoes and had bought a pair of Vibram five fingers. I loved how they felt, but didn't want to wear them anywhere because they were dumb looking. When Merrell introduced the Trail Glove I was psyched! Now I could have a barefoot type shoe and not look like a tool. But what really blew me away about that shoe was the fit. I had never experienced a shoe that so matched my foot. It felt like somebody simply put a Vibram sole on my foot. I ran many miles in those shoes and still have them to this day.
Now a days my taste has changed to a shoe that has a barefoot feel, but still has some cushioning. Considering all the new offerings of that type, it would appear that I'm not the only one looking for a shoe like this. Recently Merrell introduced the Mix Master II. I was provided a pair by the kind folks at Merrell and so far I have run 50 miles in them. (disclosure, they were provided free of charge).
|Great looking shoes!|
The short version. I really like these shoes. They are exactly what I look for in a light weight, flexible trail shoe.
The long version. The Mix Master II is a light weight, lightly cushioned trail shoe designed for the runner that wants more protection/cushioning than a bare minimal shoe. BINGO, they hit the nail right on the head. They would also be perfect for somebody who is transitioning down to more minimal shoes from a traditional trail runner.
|3.5mm lugs of Sticky rubber with Rockplate (the green part)|
The midsole is pretty low profile, with a 9mm heel and 5mm forefoot (4mm drop) and has what Merrell calls a "Forefoot shock absorption pad which provides metatarsel protection". I simply call it a minimal rockplate. There is a 2mm eva insole that provides additional cushioning as well. The shoe provides adequate rock protection but still remains very flexible. It can be rolled into a ball and twisted laterally easily. On their website, Merrell has a weight of 8.1oz listed, but doesn't specify for what size. On my trusty food scale they weighed in at 9.25oz for my size 10.5.
|9.25oz for size 10.5|
|Nice and Flexible|
|Nice Lateral flex too.|
The upper is very breathable, drains well and looks awesome. I love the green/yellow combination that they sent. The traction is provided by a whole bunch 3.5mm lugs and the material is "Merrell Mix Sole/ Sticky rubber". It is indeed sticky. I have found the traction to be excellent so far. Although it is a very soft compound I would say that the wear is normal.
|Sole after 50 miles of running and many Mt. Bike rides.|
Merrell has 4 flavors of the Mix Master. The Mix Master II, The Mix Master Aeroblock ,a wind and weatherproof version, The Mix Master Mid Waterproof, a multi-sport version and a womens version, called the Womens Mix Master Glide. They are available in a wide range of colors.
I am surprised that I have not seen a ton of these on the trails yet. My friend Peter from Runblogger runs in a million different shoes a year. He has really enjoyed this shoe as well. To see what he has to say about it, check out his review here.
With all the hype that some of the new shoes are generating, don't overlook this solid offering from Merrell. And to get you started, Merrell has graciously allowed me to give a way a pair of Mix Master II (or Womens Mix Master Glide) to one lucky winner. Simply fill out the form below. The winner will be chosen at random on Friday, September 1st.
9/1/2012: The Raffle is now closed. Thanks to all who entered and congrats to Tom D.