“Discover a closer connection to the world around you in Merrell Barefoot”
That was the statement that came along with the Merrell All Out Fuse shoes I received one day some four months ago, and it was love at first sight, second, and many more afterwards.
Let me backtrack a bit. Over a year ago I had tried for the first time and reviewed three various pairs made by Merrell – and while some were better than others, all of them got so much love from me, unexpectedly so, that only last week (a full year and half of wearing all three pairs) was I able to part with them, worn out to the bone. So, when I was offered a new version, I was excited – and when I got my All Out Fuse, they looked and felt similar to the two pairs of the previous Barefoot Collection: Bare Access Arc 2 and Road Glove Dash 2. This new one was claiming to be a fuse – of road to trail, or support and bare – and fuse it was.
Specs (per Merrell site):
- Mesh and synthetic and leather upper
- Protective toecap
- Reflective details
- Omni-Fit lacing system for glove-like fit
- Breathable mesh lining treated with M Select odor control
- UniFly Midsole to disperse impact and stabilize takeoff
- M Select CRIP for durable traction
- 18mm stack in the heel and 12 mm in the forefoot
Weight – 6.5 ounces (size 8)
While technically I had never subscribed to a real barefoot Movement, I always gravitated towards a “lesser” shoe, but with solid protection. When this Merrell arrived, I did not believe I’d get any protection – so light and fragile and bendy did they seem. But once I put them on, I was not taking them back. In fact, I never even got a chance to take photos of them while new. I wore them on ALL my runs for the last four months non-stop including roads or trails, short or long, as well as many walk-around daily work days.
Let’s review now.
General Look – I am still not the biggest fan of all the colors all the shoe companies are now jumping into, but I got used to it 🙂 . The shoes are feel light, slip on like a glove, yet have ample toe box – which is important to me as I have rather wide feet, and many reviews from me went down a notch due to getting squeezed in the forefront of the shoe.
The midsole, despite being such lightweight and “barefoot” design, has a rock plate, as well as the outsole seem to be thick enough to protect me from the rocks on our Texas trails. And believe me when I say this, we have some horrible trails in Austin and I passionately hate rocks.
Even the feeling of cushioning was generous – despite the fact that the shoes are airy (maybe that’s it?) and don’t have an added removable insole.
Toe protection does work! It doesn’t seem as much, but I stubbed my toes a number of times to be totally Ok on the outcome. The heel seems to have a little “cushy lift”, and it took a couple of runs to get used to it, but if anything, it forced me to land a little more on my forefoot and feel like a wild cat – or as much as I can feel like one 🙂 . It just makes you feel “rolling on smoothly”, not sure how else to put it.
The heel-cup area has extra “pillows” on each side for a firmer grip – and the heel does not slip out as you flex the foot. The lacing system works in many directions, and usually I re-lace my shoes from the original factory way to make room in my forefoot, yet this time I left it as is and never needed a change.
Check out this outsole. It seems that it doesn’t have the lugs for good gripping – but whatever Merrell added to the material of it (special rubber?) makes up more than needed. I ran in this shoes in the rain on the roads and slick rocks, over wet logs, in some dirt after crossing streams, and over stuff inside the creek crossings – and had no problems whatsoever. Not only do I believe the rubber is gripping, the fact that the shoe is so bendy your foot conforms over any and every obstacle in a way that it grips it like a hand. Check out the bendiness of that shoe! In, out and sideways, you can wring it out like your t-shirt after a laundry cycle! (speaking of laundry, just throw them in your washing machine and air-dry – and they come out like new!).
The usage – A+++. I put a good 300 or more miles on them. I ran on the road as long as 15 miles, pounding some downhills as well (and my knees held up despite little official cushioning!). I ran trails runs over “easy” dirt and very technical terrain (Austin rocks) for up to 25 miles – and always felt great and never “tired” or felt that I needed more support. I took them to North Texas for a 20M race and to Oregon for a 15M race with 4,000 feet of elevation gain. I ran 25 mile long runs in Austin and Bay Area Marines near San Francisco that included dirt roads, fine sand, and everything in-between. Their only downfall, if you can call it such, came in a 50M race in Bryce canyon – where due to personal reasons I had to do a lot of power-walking (and not much running) and in the last 10 miles I did develop front-of-the-feet soreness and eventually deep blisters, but please, these shoes are not walking shoes! There is a certain weight re-distribution that leads to these particular problems with feet, and shoes are rarely at fault.
Wear and tear – check for yourself. 300+ miles, it just started wearing in the fabric and the outside of my heel (I am a pretty heavy heel striker and slightly under-pronate, so that’s the part that shows, and in the shoes I just parted with, there are holes in there). You can still see the thread!
The shoes are great in water crossings – as I mentioned above because of sticking to the surface but also because they drain wonderfully and dry in a matter of few minutes, by the time you blink your eyes on the other side of the creek. Heavy rains non-stop on your multi-hour run or a full river in front – no fear!
The title “Door to your trail” is very fair for the Merrell All Out Fuse. Let me share these shoes travels with you and urge you to try them on!
– Olga King
If you are interested in the Merrell All Out Fuse, you can purchase them at Running Warehouse (Shoes, Packs, Clothes, Lights, and more…plus 2-day free shipping!).
[The Merrell All Out Fuse tread was provided by Merrell. The honest review was completely our own. This article also contains links that may help support this site.]
Posted on 07 Jul 2014