Merrell Mix Master 2

So, those Mix Masters hey? Are they any good?

Oh yes.

I really, really like them. Of course they are not without faults, but what shoe isn’t.  Firstly lets have a look at what I love about them

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I don’t normally buy the same shoe again, I like to try lots of different shoes, I bought this one again, I’ve now owned two pairs.

They are well made, but there are no frills here, the shoe comprises of a mesh upper, coupled with a reasonably grippy sole, it has some plastic overlays which run up to the laces and a nice rubber toe bumper. ‘Nuff said.   For the majority of the terrain I run they are great, I find them secure enough for high mountain runs, great fun for fast downhill running and they work well in deep snow.  I have to cross loads of wide streams on one particular route and I have found that their ability to shed water is exceptional.

In a UK 10/Eur 44.5 the shoe weighs exactly 268 grams and has a 4mm drop.  However, I have found that the differential is reduced somewhat if you remove the insoles, The shoe then seems to run flat… What kind of hocus pokus-ery is going on here?  Ground feel (without insoles) is great, obviously not as good as the Trail Glove, but nice enough all the same.  It’s a tough job finding the perfect mix of protection and ground feel, but for me – without the insoles – the Mix Master is close to perfect.

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So I like the ride, I like the mix of ground feel and protection… What about the fit I hear you say?

The fit

These fit.  Enough room for me up front, whilst not allowing movement from the middle of the foot back to the heel.  I can wiggle my toes, but my foot does not slip or slide inside the shoe.  A few folks suggest that they were too tight for the toes, that this shoe was less anatomical than the Trail Glove – I’d counter that and say that without the insoles the Mix Master feels wider in the forefoot than the same size Trail Glove.  Simply put the fit is perfect.

So what’s not to like?

Not much at all, I did mention that they were not without faults.  But, saying that, we can’t expect a shoe to perform well in all conditions.  I really only have two small problems both of which are not “deal breakers.”   Firstly the grip is not amazing, I don’t find the sticky rubber anyway near as sticky as an Inov-8.  And If you are looking for something to run through mud  these may not be the shoe for you – The lugs are of a reasonable size but nothing like a dedicated fell running shoe for finding traction.  In a nutshell – they are very good for loose and dry, not so good for sloppy and wet.  However, I found it quite surprising that on hard pack snow and ice they grip quite well.

My other small gripe is that on my first pair the uppers came away from the sole on the inside edge after just over 300 miles.  Now I’ll add a caveat: I absolutely thrashed my first pair, running a lot of rough trails, and also running off trail bushwhacking style on more than a few occasions   I suspect that it had a lot to do with this.  I also dried them very close to the fire and sometimes on top of a radiator… It’ll be interesting to see if my second pair has the same issues now that it’s warm enough to dry them outside and my bushwhacking tendencies have been tempered somewhat.

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The shoe reviewed in four words…

Wow, I love it.

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