Sunday, August 26, 2012

Merrell Mix Master II Review and Giveaway!

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 shoe fits incredibly well.  Sizing is true to size with a tad bit extra room in the toe box.  Although the pictures of the toe box look narrow, it is not.  There is plenty of room to splay your toes.  It is one of the most comfortable shoes that I own, and that is saying a lot.  Although I have only run 50 miles in them, I have been using them for Mt. Biking and riding my Eliptigo as well.

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.
It is interesting to note that this shoe runs much more like a thicker cushioned shoe than the 5mm forefoot would have you believe.  (Running Warehouse has the total stack height listed as 12mm/16mm). The shoes that I have that are most similar to this are the New Balance MT110 and the Salomon S-Lab Sense.  Although the forefoot of the MT110 is reported at 14mm, the Mix Master actually feels softer! This is probably due to the durometer difference of the sole material and the flex of the 3.5mm lugs.  The underfoot feel is extremely similar to the Sense (9mm forefoot), but it costs a lot less. Considering that the MMII has a suggested retail price of $110,  I wish that I had tried them before I paid $200 for the S-Labs!

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.


Joel said...

Nate, I ran the first 60 miles of the Leadville Trail 100 (finished in 28 hours 53 minutes) in these shoes and loved every mile. They were superb on the trail, on the road, and drained well after the river crossing. I only saw one other pair during the race which really surprised me. These are easily my favorite lightweight trail shoe.

Nathan Sanel said...

Glad to hear that they are working so well. It would give you (and me!) more credibility if you post your name. Congrats on Leadville, I really missed being there this year.

Ran said...

Hi Nate,

Great review. Ia m really looking forward to try them.

Suffering from PF, I am wondering how is the healing process going for you ? What are u doing in that regards ? How much running and in what shoes ?


Nathan Sanel said...

Hi Ran,
The PF is actually getting better. I have been going to PT and he is doing a combination of Ultrasound, Infared, Iontophoresis and deep tissue massage. I have been running mostly in Hokas (the new Bondi Speed and the Stinson Evo), but starting to mix back in runs in more minimal shoes. Mainly the Mix Master and the NB MT1010. At this point I'm running 60-80 MPW. Best of luck with your PF, it's a bear to get on top of.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nate,

My PF is not that strong, but kind of stubborn.
I am currently running very low milage with Altra Lone-Peaks for more protection (agree on the stiffness).

We don't have Hoka's around, and they are pretty expensive.

I hope I will get rid of this stubborn injury soon enough.

You put on quite a weekly milage with such an injury.. :-)


Tom D said...

Great Shoes! Took them out for a few rocky new england trail miles today and they handled it wonderfully. Light and responsive! Highly recommend!

Unknown said...

Hello Nathan,

Apologies for raising the query now exactly 2 yrs later after you published your article.
Indeed it provided a great insight to what Merell really stands for.
Just one question, if need to choose between Nike Relentless 3 and MM2, which will be your pick ?