Kit review: Merrell All Out Fuse trainers
My guest reviewer Hannah Kemlo, of Glasgow, is taking part in this year’s notoriously tough Celtman! event. She needed a pair of off-road trainers that would carry her through the marathon section, which also includes some fairly long stretches of road. The new Merrell All Out Fuse trainers seemed to be the perfect answer. Here is what Hannah reckons.
Wow! My first impression was: “WOW. Love the colours!”. The Merrell All Out Fuse come in shades of pinky purple awesomeness, which somehow are bright without being too garish. (Ed: There are two other colour schemes for women and also three versions for men.)
More importantly when I put on the Merrell trainers they felt very, very comfy. I know Merrells are usually quite wide, especially around the heel cup, so with my wide toes but narrow heels I hadn’t got my hopes up too much. However, with a decent pair of socks on these shoes are the most comfortable I can remember ever having had the pleasure of putting my feet into.
They were still a bit loose around my heels though so I wasn’t optimistic about running in them.
I am naturally a heavy heel striker but since I took to the trails two years ago I have mostly been wearing Inov-8 Roclites and now, although I still heel strike, I hate wearing a fully cushioned shoe. The Merrell All Out Fuse suit my requirements with a 6mm heel-toe drop and a 11mm heel “crush”.
Running test in Merrell All Out Fuse
For my first run in the Merrells I yanked hard on the lacing system to get a good grip on my narrow heels. I think perhaps I over did it a bit as I soon felt a pinching around the top of my foot and a bit of cramp.
Thankfully the funky lacing system adjusted quickly and the pressure around the top eased. The loops that the laces go through are all linked to each other and slip up and down so give great adjustment and fit.
Brilliantly, the shoes adjusted to my feet without me having to stop and I felt I was quickly running in comfort.
These shoes are meant to be “Road to Trail” rather than an all-out trail shoe so, of course, I decided to test run them on some fairly interesting single track after work. (Ed: Hannah works for Go Ape near Aberfoyle so she has plenty of forest rails to run close to work.)
The sole offers lots of feel, which I like, and some protection from sharp stones but I noticed the sharpest ones more than I would normally in my usual luggy trail shoes. There isn’t much toe protection either but that said there were only a couple of “ouch” moments.
These shoes are joyously light and the sole is nice and flexible offering almost no resistance to natural foot movements. If I hadn’t let myself get so unfit in previous weeks I might have felt like I was flying.
On the forest paths, the Merrells offers quite a lot of grip although on the wet pine needles and muddy patches I could tell that the grippy part of the sole doesn’t extend to the back of the heel so if you heel strike on a slippery patch you certainly know it.
I’m not sure how confident I’d feel running on wet grass wearing these and I still wondered how we’d get on pounding the pavements so when I finished my usual loop I took them for a quick lap of the car park. It was by no means a marathon, but again I was pleasantly surprised that I neither felt a hard heel strike or the “flappy” flat-footed feeling I have experienced in minimalist shoes.
One 8km run is definitely not a decider but so far so good, and the Merrell All Out Fuse are potentially the answer to my shoe conundrum. I’m looking forward to taking them out for a longer run soon.
Technical details of Merrell All Out Fuse trainers
These shoes make use of UniFlyTM technology that promotes natural running form and reduces stress on the body through a foot wrap that is in continuous contact with the three main arches of the feet. This relaxes the foot, conserves energy and allows for a larger and more efficient contraction and recoil on each and every stride – resulting in increased mobility.
The UniFlyTM technology extends into the sole system with two impact protection zones of ultra-resilient, strategically placed foam “shock” pods ensuring a stable take off and soft landing, distributing impact and providing great feedback from the ground.
The shoes have a circular lug design for multi directional grip.