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What’s the best way to see how a shoe performs on trail? Send it to a few friends and ask them to log some miles. As part of our Gear 360 testing program, we sent three of Merrell‘s new shoe models to BACKPACKER Basecamp members to see what they thought. (Want to join the crew? Sign up for membership here.)
Balanced Hiker: Merrell MQM Flex 2
Brian McElwee: “This shoe is a great combination of light weight and comfort. It slides on and wraps your foot like a second skin. The lacing provides excellent fit and adjustment, with no pinch points or hot spots.” Read the Full Review
Women’s-Specific: Merrell Bravada
Liz Clafin: “It looks just like a trail-running shoe, except it’s definitely stiffer, which I appreciate for hiking. On my feet, it felt light and comfortable. The heel cup was perfect: It locked my heels in super tight and I didn’t have even a smidge of slippage.” Read the Full Review
Cushy Pick: Merrell Nova 2
Chris Cullaz: “The first thing I noticed about the shoe while pulling it out of the box was how light it is. Slipping it on, the shoe felt true to size, but I felt that the toe box was a bit on the wider side. On my first run out the door the shoe felt comfortable, with enough cushioning to make pavement running to the trailhead fine, and the traction on trail (which was a mix of shale and clay) was adequate.” Read the Full Review
Do-Anything Trail Runner: Merrell Antora 2
Talia Worth: “I took this shoe on a backpacking trip in Colorado’s Indian Peaks with a substantial uphill portion for the first 5 miles. Right away, the fit felt great. The outsole gripped the ground nicely, and I felt sturdy on the uphill.” Read the Full Review
Light Hiker: Merrell Rubato
Talia Worth: “I was immediately impressed by the comfort of the shoe. I felt like I could walk on anything and not feel the ground underneath. The grip still felt great, though. I used the Rubato to hike on a trail where I did a bit of running and walking. When running, I found I prefer shoes with less cushion, however, when hiking, I enjoyed the cushion of the shoe.” Read the Full Review