MERRELL AGILITY PEAK FLEX TRAIL RUNNERS
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
October 11, 2017
kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
Canon City, Colorado, USA
5' 4" (1.60 m)
125 lb (56.70 kg)
Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado.
Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley.
My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.
Year of Manufacture: 2016
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.merrell.com
MSRP: US $130.00
Listed Weight: 9 oz (255 g) each
Measured Weight: 10 oz (283 g) each
Sizes Available: Women's US 5 - 11.5 Medium (Euro: 35-42, UK: 3-9)
Size Reviewed: Women's US 7.5 (Euro: 38, UK: 5.5)
Colors Available: Liberty (bright blue), Black, Navy & Paloma (gray)
Color Reviewed: Liberty
|Photo copywrite Merrell
The Agility shoes uppers are constructed of fabric, mesh, and Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) which is a class of polyurethane plastics reported to be resistant to oil, grease and abrasion. The fabric of my shoes is a very bright blue with reflective details that glow in low light.
Merrell's trademarked Omni-Fit lacing system uses flat laces that pass through corded eyelet-loops that are attached to the uppers. It looks rather unique.
Skeleton-inspired mid-deep lugs on the outsoles utilize another proprietary Merrell technology, the M Select GRIP.
The removable, nicely-cushioned EVA footbeds are treated with M Select FRESH, an antimicrobial agent. Ethylene-vinyl acetate, EVA, is a dense foam popularly used in trail shoes and boots.
Molded TPU heel counters and EVA midsoles are featured for flexibility and support.
|Eagle River in Avon, CO
|Almost all wearing of the Merrell Agility Peak Flex Trail Shoes for hiking and backpacking over the last several months (over 250 m/400 km) has been in Fremont Country, Colorado. This is my home "range" and I wear trail shoes or boots almost anytime I walk out of the house. We live on 71 acres (29 hectares) and take weekend hikes and backpack straight out our back door where we border Bureau of Land Management property for miles and miles.
The terrain is high desert with mostly dry, dusty trails from powdery dirt to ball-bearing-slippery pebbles to hard slabs of granite. While we do have some prairie-like valleys, mostly I am hiking up and down on hills and ridges.
In addition to daily walks over my very hilly, rutted dirt road to the mailbox - a 4-mile (6.4 km) round trip trek - I have been exploring some newly constructed trails with the Merrells.
An example of these trails is the Oil Well Flats Tectonic Shift Trail near Canon City, Colorado which takes me through juniper and pine tree stands with a few meadows. The very narrow trail is mostly hard dirt-packed with intermittent rocks. It's an intermediate-rated trail for mountain bikes but also a hiking trail and my husband, John, and I often have had it all to ourselves. Temperature have ranged from freezing to the high 90s F (36 C) under clear, sunny blue skies to drizzly rain.
It is 2.3 m (3.7) with a 220 ft (67 m) ascent and -51 ft (16 m) descent with a 6,107 ft (1861 m) high and a 5,939 ft (1810 m) low.
I also wore the shoes on a base camp snowshoeing-turned-fishing trip to Avon, Colorado in early April, 2017 and a couple of day hikes on the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan in late June, 2017.
Shockingly, the weather in Eagle County the first week of April was down-right balmy with very snow-free terrain - this is the home of Vail and Beaver Creek Ski resorts! While we planned to spend the week snowshoeing, we ended up hiking instead as there was no snow except the snow on the ski runs and even as desperate as I was to snowshoe, I know not to go anywhere near ski and snowboard territory! So we "made do" with some gorgeous hikes near Minturn and Avon, Colorado. Temps were in the mid 50's F (13 C).
Twice, my husband John and I took day-long hikes along the sand dunes along Lake Michigan in Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. Very humid weather with mid-80s F (29 C) temperatures to make it rather miserable. The other two hikes were in what are called "mountains" in the lower peninsula and were much cooler - I estimate in the high 70s F (25 C) though I didn't have my weather gauge.
I wear trail shoes or hiking boots almost exclusively whenever I am outdoors. I live on mountainous 71 acres (29 hectares) of dirt, scrubby vegetation and rock along two miles (3 km) of dirt hilly private road. My home town is a very casual rural location where boots are an acceptable footwear choice. Fortunately, I love wearing boots!
All this boot-wearing means I wear out footwear more rapidly than most people. I ascribe to the general rule-of-thumb that 300 to 500 miles (480 - 600 km) on an outdoor shoe or boot is pretty much the maximum mileage I want to put on them.
Since I have rather flat feet, I usually can tell when the trail shoes or boots I am wearing are destined to be replaced. Even if the tread looks good and the uppers still in decent shape, my left arch particularly tells me to move along to the next pair.
I also believe in not wearing the same trail shoes or boots two days in a row unless I have to because I am on the trail and certainly am not sacrificing pack space or weight to a second pair of trail shoes or boots!
Generally speaking, most of my trail shoes and boots - because of this rotation - last about 6-8 months on average. These trail shoes have just hit that point - approximately 350 miles (560 km) and almost six months!
So, what did I learn and think about the Merrell Agility Peak Flex Trail Shoes? Read on!
I affectionately call these my "Spiderman" shoes as the distinctive pattern on the uppers looks - to me at least - like a spider web. And the bright blue uppers certainly complement the Spiderman theme! Even in pictures that are not "close-ups", there is no mistaking these shoes. They really stand out!
The Spiderman connection extends to the outsoles which are very sticky and while I couldn't climb up the sides of buildings in them, I certainly was able to stay on my feet in all sorts of terrain from slippery wet rocks to equally slippery tall sand dunes.
The lugs are patterned nicely to shed our clay-like mud fairly well, too. This is important to me as when it's wet here in my neck of the woods, the mud quickly clumps up on my boots and can adds pounds/kilograms to the weight of my shoes.
Since I have rather flat feet, I often change out the stock insoles on my footwear for a more compatible one. I was pleased to find I did not have to do that until after a couple hundred miles (300 km) of usage. I had no problem using my favorite brand in the swap.
There is enough padding in the heel as to be comfortable, but not so much as to be over padded. I found the tongue to be protective but no so padded as to put pressure on my foot. I never, from the first moment I put them on - experienced any rubbing or developed any hot spots or blisters.
I wore the Agility Peak Flex with all sorts of socks from no-show cotton-blend socks to wool crew hikers. The socks were light-to-mid-weight socks.
The lacing system on these shoes is different from any other shoes I've worn. The eyelets are a corded loop that is attached to the shoe - as is any eyelet - and tighten the laces seems to more snugly "wrap" the uppers of the shoes on my feet more securely.
That is the single most notable and welcome feature of these shoes. The Agility Peak Flex offer stellar support and structure throughout my feet but especially in the mid-foot area. I feel so much more nimble and in control in these shoes, whether running down our dirt road or climbing on steep rocky trails. These shoes fit like a glove with no gaps, yet they don't "squish" my piggy toes!
These trail shoes are fantastic! That said, they are fantastic when used as trail runners and trail shoes for day hikes and summer overnights when pack weights are lighter than when carrying winter/heavy gear. I never carried more than 15 lb (7 kg) with these shoes and was comfortable even over a day-long mountain hike. Since I am naturally clumsy, I wear mid-height boots whenever I am carrying a full pack to protect me from myself and a twisted ankle or bruises.
In all the time I had them, I never really did anything special to care for the trail runners. Mostly, I just brushed off the dirt every once in a while and used a stiff brush to scrub off crusted on mud. We have very sticky mud here in my part of Colorado and with some deep-lugged boots, clearing out mud is a real chore, at times, I actually had to use a screw driver to "dig" out the mud from between the lugs of the outsoles.
In addition to rotating my footwear, I always take the insoles out of the boots after every wear. I'm sure this helped keep the boots less "stinky" and I know allowing the insoles to air out protects breakdown of the components as well. Right to the end of this season, the insoles had not degraded at all.
1.) Very snug and supportive in the mid-foot
2.) Lightweight but substantial
3.) Great arch support.
4.) Very flexible for fast footwork
1.) Not crazy about the very bright print
I have had a couple of other pairs of shoes from Merrell, both hiking sandals (still my favorites after many, many years) and mid-height winter boots. The Agility Peak Flex Trail Runners were my first pair of Merrell low-cut footwear and I suspect they won't be my last! I do think the shoes run a bit "large" - I normally wear size US women's size 8 (Euro 38-39/UK 6.5) and these are a half size smaller and while they have a very narrow profile and are close-fitting, they fit me perfectly!
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Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
I was very pleased and impressed with their performance. They are actually a size smaller than I normally wear and I loved the snug supportive fit. I wore them ALOT on day hikes and daily walks and training runs on our dirt roads. I always felt fleet of foot! While I would not recommend them on long hikes with heavy backpacks, I think they are great for all sorts of outdoor endeavors!
I'm not "done" with these shoes just yet. They are still in good shape. I don't usually wear low-cut shoes on the trail in the colder months, so I'll be giving the shoes a rest for the winter and I'll be back to them come spring for sure.
Two thumbs up for the Merrell Agility Peak Flex shoes!
Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
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