Merrell Bare Access 4

8.6
8.6 score
[Editors rating (8.6)] = (GearWeAre.com) score (8.6)/10

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Editor rating: 8.6 / 10
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Merrell Bare Access 4 Review Facts

For those minimalist runners out there, Merrell has got a great shoe for you! Merrell Bare Access 4 is airy, comfortable, and light with the “rubber meets the road” feel and zero drop from heel to toe.

The drop offers more control for the user with the hyperresponsive insoles with immediate ground feedback for optimal stability and control. This terrific footwear is best used for light trail running, but can also be suitable for racing flat, training, and working out indoors.

Merrell Bare Access 4 is perfect for medium and short distances and has reflective details for nighttime sessions. The uppers and lining are of light mesh material for increased breathability, plus it has an odor and bacteria-fighting technology to help with fungus and smells. It is a decent minimalist shoe for runners.

 

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Comfortable, airy, and light
  • No differential of heel-to-toe with the zero drop
  • Is a minimalist running shoe
  • Good for medium and short distances
  • Durable for racing flat and training
  • Great for working out and light trail running
  • Has the “rubber meets the road” feel
  • Optimal stability, control, and quick reaction timing
  • Plenty of room in the toe box
Cons
  • Bottom of soles could come apart after a few months
  • Toe box could be too big; midfoot might be too small
Breathability

Breathability

Being that the upper and lining of this minimalist shoe is with a lightweight, breathable mesh, users will feel very comfortable wearing it. It certainly will allow the foot to breathe as if no shoe is being worn at all, which is the overall experience one wants to have when wearing such an essential sneaker.

To add to that comfort and pleasure, the Merrell Bare Access 4 also has the breathable technology of M Select Fresh to keep down odors and bacteria. You will not have to worry about bad smells or problems with fungus when wearing this footwear.
Comfort

Comfort

Even though this is a minimalist model, it does have some basic comforts for the wearer. This high ankle footwear has bonus cushioning and connection of the full foot. It is protective and supportive for speed and sprinting with this minimal cushion.

Think of it as just enough protection and padding to make the foot comfortable, but not so much as to overburden the foot and not let it feel the trail or the road well. Soft, airy, and light, it enables the user to concentrate on their performance while not bogging down the foot with a heavy, non-responsive shoe.

It is a surprise that it does have some arch support. So much so that it was uncomfortable for some people who did not expect it in a minimalist shoe. For those that do like to run with such an essential piece of footwear, the Merrell Bare Access 4 is a real winner.
Durability

Durability

Since the sole of the Merrell Bare Access 4 model is minimalistic, buyers do not expect it to last as long as other footwear with thick soles with excellent traction. However, it should be useable for at least a year, depending on the amount of usage it gets. Unfortunately, many people experienced the rubber soles separating only after a few months of regular usage.

We saw many comments about this problem in our research of customer comments. Once this begins to happen the shoe must be repaired, glued, returned (if still within the return window of time), or tossed. To wear shoes when this starts is just dangerous, as the edges will catch on things and possibly trip the wearer. Not all buyers had this problem, but enough of them for it to be a significant issue.
Ground Feel

Ground Feel

You will feel some ground detail through the sole with this Merrell footwear because it has the “rubber meets the road” feel. The EVA support and midsole provide ground feedback that is immediate for optimal stability and control and quick reaction timing. Users of such footwear need to be very careful of the terrain they cover in their running sessions.

They should stay on flat solid surfaces that have excellent traction and no problems such as small pebbles, rocks, twigs, or rocky paths. These will be felt through the rubber soles of the Merrell Bare Access 4. As some would say, it is similar to running barefoot, but with a shoe to protect the foot.
Heel to toe drop

Heel to toe drop

Besides being able to feel almost everything your foot touches in the running and walking, the other distinctive feature of a minimalist shoe like this one is that there is no differential of heel-to-toe. This is a trail runner that is low profile with zero drop for running.

As a minimalist shoe, it is the next best thing to going without anything on foot. The good thing about such a product is that the foot stays free of tendonitis and the Achilles tendon stays limber with the zero drop. Some runners prefer this basic feel and freedom of performance with a minimalist piece of footwear.
Outsole

Outsole

The outsole of the Merrell Bare Access 4 is made of Vibram rubber, and it has minimal traction to inhibit the feel of the impact of the foot on the ground. The sole is the main focal point of the negative feedback and complaints online from buyers.

This sole will possibly leave streaks on floors indoors such as wood, so you may want to be careful of that if you purchase this footwear. Some users found this model slippery where there was no traction on surfaces, which should be expected knowing the type of shoe that it is.

By far, the biggest problem with this product is the soles detaching at the edges after a few weeks or months of regular continued use. People noticed the edges separating not long after they began using the shoe. The mentioned above was not isolated cases either, as we saw many of these comments that included photos. So, the durability of this Merrell item is not the best.
Protection

Protection

There is hardly any protection for the foot with this footwear that is a step above barefoot running, hence the name of Bare Access. The foot will be spared any damage from encountered rocks, twigs, pebbles, and such from coming in contact with the foot, but when stepped on, the foot will feel them.

The Bare Access product line is just the essential running shoe to keep your feet protected from touching the rigors of the trail or road, but not enough to prevent feeling them through the rubber sole of the footwear.
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Merrell Bare Access 4 includes an energy-returning M Bound midsole giving more control to the wearer with the hyperresponsive insole.

This footwear is responsive and stable on the trail or the road and can be worn with or without socks. Most people tend not to wear socks as that would take away some of the benefits of the minimalist experience.

Another perk that this item has is increased visibility for low light or nighttime use with the reflective details on it. This feature did not add any weight to the footwear and could be lifesaving in certain circumstances. The overall satisfaction rating for this incredible shoe is 4.3 online from buyers. It is admittedly not for everyone, but those that bought the Merrell Base Access 4 for the aspects do love it.
Size

Size

Sizing was another concern for customers online as this model is extensive in the forefront, or toe box, but small on the midfoot. The midfoot is where the foot expands when making contact with the ground bearing the weight of the body.

This part of the shoe should accommodate for that increase in width of the midfoot, but it does not. Instead, it is the toe box that is very roomy to the disappointment of some and the joy of others.

Changing up the lacing of this lace-up footwear could have some bearing on the way it fits the foot but not much. Sizes seem to be accurate, as we did not find any comments of having to go up or down a size for comfort.
Terrain

Terrain

Whatever terrain you choose to walk or run with the Merrell Bare Access 4 remember that anything along the way that the shoe goes over, you will feel. If you are on pebbles or gravel, you will feel it through the sole of the shoe. Its design gives the user complete control over their footing in any environment.

If the sole were thicker with traction grooves, then the wearer has fewer control reactions to the surface area covered. This model, as stated before, it what you would wear in-between running barefoot and having an essential covering shoe on. It protects the foot with just a minimal covering but lets you feel like you are running without any shoes on at all.
Traction

Traction

As a few buyers mentioned in their feedback, this shoe does not have a lot of traction. It can be slippery and weak performing on slick surfaces that have no traction of its own, such as smooth or wet floors. It does much better where the surface has traction, such as pavement, trail environments, and concrete roads.

The added rubber that would be needed to create grooves for traction would add weight to the footwear and take away its lightweight properties. If you are familiar with minimalist shoes, then you should know to expect no traction or minimal traction on these models.
Upper

Upper

The Merrell Bare Access 4 has mesh urethane and thermoplastic uppers with side overlays of gradient synthetic and a lining of mesh material. The toe box is big and not tapered, so there is plenty of room in that part of the shoe. However, it is considered snug on the remainder of the foot. It will be up to the individual as to how this works for them. Some people like it in this proportion while others do not.
Use

Use

Of course, the best and most popular use for this minimalist footwear is light trail running. The Merrell Bare Access 4 is excellent for medium and short distances and durable for racing flat and training. It is perfect for running on paved roadways too. We found a few customers that use this product for working out indoors as a simple, lightweight shoe that will not bog them down during training sessions.

It can also make a great everyday shoe for casual wear or one that can be worn just around the house or out in the yard for chores and tasks. One person who left feedback online said they are perfect as city shoes for errands and daily tasks.
Weight

Weight

The main point of wearing this minimalist shoe is the almost featherlight weight. Even those familiar with the brand and the Bare Access models were surprised how light this shoe is. Those that prefer to run barefoot or with as little protection for the foot will surely like the Merrell Bare Access 4. When you want to concentrate on your performance and be able to have more control over your footing on the trail or road, then such a minimalist shoe is required.
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The only negative concerns that we found to deter future buyers of the Merrell Bare Access 4 are that the toe box is more prominent than some would like it to be and the rubber sole might show signs of wear early.

The sole tends to separate after a few weeks or months of regular use according to enough people to cause some concern about the durability of this minimalist footwear. Even though the sole is meant to be thinner than a regular sneaker, it should last for at least a year considering the going price for this model.

Otherwise, the Merrell Bare Access 4 is a beautiful shoe for runners and walkers who prefer to have more control over their footing and performance during their runs. The lighter shoe that allows you to feel the road or the trail is a different experience entirely than a regular sneaker. Overall, the majority of people love its features and design, so it is an excellent piece of footwear worth serious consideration.