Merrell MTL Long Sky
A lightweight trail-running shoe that provides outsized protection and stability
Brand: Gear 360 Reviews
Model: Product feedback from every angle
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BACKPACKER Gear 360 Review
For a trail-running shoe that weighs barely more than a pound per pair, the MTL Long Sky provides outsized protection and stability. “My favorite feature is the TPU toe cap,” one editor noted after a fast ascent of South Boulder Peak in Colorado. “It adds a defense against toe knocks that’s commonly missing in this category.” The same can be said for the thick mesh upper, which grants durability yet still breathes well: “After a creek crossing on a hot day with very low humidity, the shoe drained after 2 minutes and dried in about 30,” our tester reports. (The Long Sky only comes in a non-waterproof version.) A Vibram Megagrip outsole and deep, directional lugs gave him confidence to descend quickly and without misstep on a trail that transitioned from pine duff, to rock, to sand on hardpack. The MTL Long Sky’s EVA midsole is supportive enough to make carrying packs up to 30 pounds comfortable even on rocky, rooty terrain, but we would prefer more ground feel for trail runs. Note: It comes in both men’s and women’s models, and we found that both fit true to size.
From the very first time I walked in these, they screamed “go.” They are so light, it’s hard to see how they can be any good on a hiking trail. But believe me, they are. Our local trails here in Nebraska slope towards the creek in a lot of places so there is always pressure on the outside of one foot and the inside of the other. This is usually where a shoe makes or breaks it with me. With a shoe this light and being a low top, I was totally surprised at how my foot never felt like it was going to slip out of my shoe. We also got tons of rain so mud was everywhere. I purposely stepped on wet tree roots and wet rocks in Indian State Park to see if there would be any slipping. These shoes have great grip so even with a pack on my back I felt secure and sure footed. I took them out early one morning and the dew did get them very wet. My socks also got wet so they are not waterproof. The laces stay relatively tight, so I didn’t have to stop and tighten them much. It was hard going back to regular hiking boots after wearing these. I found that I hiked much faster wearing the Merrell shoes. I wouldn’t wear them with a really heavy pack, but trail running would be a breeze with these shoes. I’ve already decided that I will be wearing these on my next rim-to-rim-to-rim hike across the Grand Canyon.
The shoe size ran true: my men’s 9.5 fit perfectly with thin socks. I was able to take long hikes without break-in blisters. The collar fit very well around ankles—no chafing and no pebbles—a pretty tough balancing act to achieve. The soles and foot cushion made for comfortable hiking on uneven, rocky and sandy surfaces. The mesh uppers made for good moisture control on hot, humid days (90s temps, 70 percent humidity). The laces were a tad long; even if double-knotted, they fell down to the side of the shoe. Overall these have a great initial fit, good breathability, wonderful cushion, and sole support.