You’d be forgiven for those who blinked over the past decade and didn’t discover what the shoe designers at Merrell — significantly in path operating — have been as much as. What many people know as a standard hiking-shoe producer has snuck up on path runners in a significant method with the brand new Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 ($200).
The “MTL” within the shoe’s identify stands for “Merrell Check Lab” and the model is carving out an area for this high-performance division with its personal social media feeds which can be separate from the final Merrell account and the place the messaging is all about design uniqueness, experimental ideas, and a acknowledged mission to “make the MTL Skyfire 2 the operating shoe with essentially the most FKTs [fastest known times] on earth.”
This can be a “tremendous shoe” however not like those taking down data on the highway; it’s a confounding mixture of tremendous light-weight with sturdy supplies that may encourage velocity going up and down as shortly as doable. I’ve turn out to be one thing of an knowledgeable in light-weight, brief distance path trainers, so I’ve obtained many pairs of footwear to reference when the applying is quick operating for brief distances, significantly up and down steep mountains.
I’ll get into the explanations that the MTL Skyfire 2 isn’t flawless, however by way of a shoe that may provide help to PR or FKT that is one to strongly contemplate.
By way of stats, this shoe weighs 7.1 ounces (200 grams) in a U.S. males’s 9, and has 6 millimeters of drop.
Ensure that to additionally take a look at our Greatest Light-weight Path Working Footwear article, the place we’ve named the Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 one of the best light-weight shoe for technical terrain.
Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 Higher
Although I didn’t take a look at the unique model, the Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 cuts a drastic departure from the primary MTL Skyfire. The unique shares far more of its widespread traits with what you’d count on in Merrell’s days of previous. And though the MTL Skyfire 2 additionally makes use of a TPU higher with breathable engineered mesh, the look is way totally different.
Firstly, the Merrell Check Lab sought to provide the MTL Skyfire 2 nothing further, so it’s not stunning that the higher could be very stripped down and you’ll even see by it.
The tongue isn’t gusseted and it’s paper skinny, however I’ve had no hassle with it slipping or changing into irritable. A punch out on the prime proper of the tongue will increase air stream and removes some materials, seemingly as a weight saver.
A millimeter-wide elastic band is sewn to both aspect of the higher over the shoelaces; this nifty element serves as a barely there lace storage.
Beneath the tall heel collar, there are sewn-in inserts of padding however it’s a little bit decrease on the heel than most producers go for. I actually like the feeling and assist, and it additionally provides some particles safety.
For me the shoe runs true to measurement, however one would possibly wish to measurement down a tad because the heel could possibly be a little bit sloppy if too large. The laborious plastic FlexPlate heel counter could be very efficient at conserving the arch in place and locked down.
A small, welded overlay on the within and outdoors of the higher serves to cease rips or tears. Talking of which, although it has largely stood as much as the weather, the higher has suffered a small tear close to my large toe. I don’t really feel this higher materials is as sturdy because the now widespread Maytrx utilized by different manufacturers, so Merrell loses a little bit of leverage to different tremendous light-weight opponents like Acr’teryx, Salomon, and Nnormal.
The footwear aren’t vast per se, however the flexibility of the higher permits your foot to unfold out. That is complicated as a result of the entrance of the shoe involves an outlined level and but it’s a comfortable match even for my vast toes and bunions.
The mixture of various shades of oranges, black, and white with an extended Merrell wordmark throughout the lateral side of the shoe makes it actually stand out and passers-by received’t confuse it with something from Hoka, Brooks, Salomon, or different corporations.
Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 Midsole
The Merrell MTL Skyfire 2’s two-part, dual-density FloatPro Foam midsole is shockingly soft regardless of the shoe’s total stripped-down look. There’s an innovation within the type of its aforementioned FlexPlate, which feels far more propulsive and, higher but, much less noticeable than different plated path footwear available on the market.
The plate is sandwiched between two layers of the very comfy FloatPro Foam. The ability switch feels extra outlined than in, say, the Hoka Tecton X 2 — try our Hoka Tecton X 2 evaluation. Nonetheless, the mannequin’s 6-millimeter drop and very minimalistic design brought about my shins to be very sore the day after my first run, having bombed down technical descents over about 9 miles and 4,000 toes of achieve and loss. This break-in interval was temporary, although, and my legs shortly tailored thereafter.
The insole is paper skinny and after competing on this 12 months’s virtually totally snowy Damaged Arrow Skyrace Vertical Kilometer, the place my socks and footwear had been fully moist on the finish, I took the shoe off and the insole had slipped all the best way to the medial side of the shoe. Merrell would possibly discover future iterations of this sequence to forgo insoles altogether.
Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 Outsole
Earlier on this evaluation I discussed the higher materials being much less sturdy than shoe manufacturers utilizing Matryx. However the place the model exceeds a few of its light-weight opponents within the Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 is in traction.
The superior traction comes from each using Vibram MegaGrip, actually the business normal in relation to path operating shoe outsoles, in addition to the distinctive honeycomb sample of the outsole and its lug configuration.
At the moment, using one thing like, say, Salomon’s Contagrip outsole, which little doubt affords much less traction on a competitor shoe mannequin, the Salomon S/Lab Pulsar 2 — right here’s our Salomon S/Lab Pulsar 2 evaluation if that’s of curiosity — is head scratching.
Currently for a lot of athletes, Merrell has discovered a house alongside manufacturers like VJ, which makes footwear used usually by obstacle-course racers due to their combine of sunshine weight and deep lugs that work within the number of situations that these athletes face: mud, rain, dust, and assist for leveraging obstacles.
This shoe is analogous with 5-millimeter deep lugs, however the comparability past this to any VJ shoe I’ve examined is unfounded and the MTL Skyfire 2 vastly outperforms the Finnish firm’s footwear.
The outsole wraps as much as the entrance center of the higher, and it sadly has begun peeling off the outsole.
Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 General Impressions
Although I discovered the break-in interval a bit brutal merely from not having conditioned my shins, the Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 sits firmly atop my record of favourite path racing footwear. Although average distances are in all probability finest, the footwear are only a showstopper by way of their mixture of sunshine weight and unbelievable traction.
Although higher sturdiness hasn’t been excellent, being selective about this shoe’s use in time trials, vertical-kilometer races, brief FKT makes an attempt, and extra makes it the proper device when velocity is your concern.
You can too learn our Greatest Light-weight Path Working Footwear article, the place we’ve named the Merrell MTL Skyfire 2 a prime shoe on this class.
Name for Feedback
- Have you ever been operating within the Merrell MTL Skyfire 2? What do you consider the shoe total in addition to of its particulars?
- Did you employ the unique MTL Skyfire? In that case, what do you consider the substantial updates made to this second model?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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