Merrell Bare Access Review

I recently received a pair of Merrell Bare Access shoes to review and have been wearing them around the city for the last month. The Merrell Bare Access is in the Merrell Barefoot line and would be considered a transition shoe.

The idea behind Barefoot transition shoes like the Nike Free and Reebox RealFlex is that they help a runner who wants to run barefoot make that first step as a barefoot runner easier. I good pair of transition shoes will have all the traits of a barefoot shoe but offer a little more cushion to the runner.

The Following is what the Merrell Website says about the Bare Access:

For distance runners and those new on the path to barefoot running, our Bare Access 0mm drop running shoe gives you a barefoot feel, with added toe to heel cushioning. Still allowing your foot to land flat and follow its own natural motion, its cushioning protects from sustained impacts due to longer runs or a new barefoot training program.

• Barefoot strobel construction offers flexibility and comfort
• Synthetic leather and mesh upper
• Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
• Breathable mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution resists odor
• Integrated footbed with 2mm EVA to cushion

• 8mm M Bound™ allows for cushioned entry into Bareform™ movement
• 0mm ball to heel drop keeps you connected to your terrain
• Wash as needed in cold water, gentle cycle and air dry
• Vegan friendly footwear
• Natural flex outsole with 2.5mm lug depth allows for dynamic foot movement
• Merrell Bare Access Sole / Sticky Rubber Pods

Merrell Bare Access Review:

Like the Merrell site states the Bare Access is a Barefoot style shoe that has a zero-drop sole, with a large toe box that is lightweight.

After reading that sentence you see that the Merrell Bare Access hits all the key points of a barefoot shoe, but will it get the passing grade?

The Sole:

The Merrell Bare Access has 10mm of cushion, with 8mm in the sole and 2mm in the footbed. Merrell is in partnership with Vibram who produces their soles and is the leader in that field.

With 10mm of cushion you'll lose some of that ground feel you'd like to have with a barefoot or minimal running shoe but that's the trade off with a transition shoe.

If I ever had a complaint about Merrell Barefoot shoes was that the heel portion of their sole was too narrow. With the Bare Access I feel they have widened the heel portion of the sole just enough.

The Sole is flexible but not as Flexible as I would like it for a barefoot shoe, but if you look at the Bare Access as a transitional shoe it's a good beginning but even the Nike Free or Reebok Realflex is more flexible.

Merrell says that their sole is made up of sticky rubber pods. The main portion of the sole is made of the "sticky rubber" with the heel and midfoot sections made of a harder rubber. I have been using the Bare Access shoes for about a month and I've noticed them become a little worn on the "sticky rubber" part then I expected.

Overall the Merrell Bare Access sole gets a passing grade.

The Toe Box:

All Merrell Barefoot shoes offer a pretty roomy toe box, and the Bare Access is the same. When looking for a Barefoot shoe you want one that offers a wide toe box that will allow your toes to naturally spread when your foot makes contact with the ground. For a first time Barefoot shoe runner you find they feel a little loose because your accustomed to your toes being squished.

I have seen bigger toe boxes in some other shoes, but I feel the Bare Access is big enough to earn a passing grade.

The Upper:

The upper of the Bare Access looks stylish and "normal," some of the first barefoot shoes to hit the market caused laughter but Merrell has  done it right with their barefoot line. The upper is made from synthetic leather and a breathable mesh.

The laces are standard with nothing really to mention. The upper has ample reflective parts that's perfect for running in low light, and is needed if this is to be used as a road shoe.

The Inner:

The Inner of this shoe is great, it's designed to be worn sockless and most of my time wearing these I have gone without socks. I enjoyed the feel of the inner, feeling no hot spots where the shoe rubs against my foot. The lining is treated with aegis antimicrobial solution designed to keep the oder down and so far it's standing up to my smelly feet.


Running in the Merrell Bare Access felt very comfortable and natural. Being a transition shoe with a little thicker sole you lose the true barefoot feeling with the ground feedback being a little muted, but the sole flexes well when running over uneven surfaces. Again being  a Transition shoe you don't get as much of that feeling that your toes are gripping the ground, as if you were wearing a pair of Vibram Five Fingers or even a pair of Vivobarefoot.


The Bare Access shoes are very stylish and work great with a pair of jeans. As they are comfortable to wear, you could wear them all day at work with no issues.


The Bare Access turned out to be a great Barefoot Transitional running shoe. The shoe can be used on all surfaces but will work best on a more packed surface. For me I plan of using my Bare Access shoe as a more casual shoe or workout shoe.
This shoe is best for someone that is looking at going from traditional shoes to barefoot shoes that are a little afraid to make the full leap, and want to transition slowly.
As a pure barefoot shoe it wouldn't get a high ranking, but as a transition barefoot shoe it gets a passing grade beating out the Reebox Realflex and Nike Free in my mind.

Happy Running

1 comment:

  1. That fits just like my ecco biom casual. I always loved the merrell designs. So fit and casual and fab. It's beyond the usual!