* Please go to kembara.my for the Malay translation of this review *
Since their announcement in November 2015 that they will be teaming up for a partnership with the OCR giant Tough Mudder, Merrell has released specific gear that has been catered for obstacle course racers, one of which is Merrell’s new All Out Crush trail-running shoe. Merrell is so dedicated to the design process for specialized OCR shoes that they even plan to build a mini Tough Mudder course at their headquarters in Michigan, U.S.A!
Material & Features
The Merrell All Out Crush trail-running shoe is packed with features that are supposed to address the complaints that OCR runners seem to have universally – water retention, the lack of grip when running on mud, and shoe durability (ever notice the rubbish bins that are full of running shoes at OCR events?). The main features are:Drainage ports – The All Out Crush has two water drainage ports on each side of the shoe, something that I personally think is absolutely essential for OCR shoes.M-select grip for traction – The All Out Crush has deep 5mm pinwheel-shaped lugs that provide optimum multi-directional traction for the tricky terrain that obstacle courses have.Trailprotect pad - The Trailprotect pads provide more support for the points of the sole of the foot that come into contact with the ground, namely the forefoot and heel.TPU outer mesh – TPU is a plastic film that claims to have high abrasion resistance as well as high elasticity. This TPU mesh helps to protect the shoe and makes cleaning quick and easy.
Being an avid hiker, I’ve always subscribed to the old adage that “one pound on the foot equals five on the back” and am always trying to minimise the weight that I carry in an attempt to try and get closer to achieving that ‘floating on the trail’ goal. I’ve brought over this same mindset to running and have used a lot of minimalist barefoot shoes in the past, but have found that the reduced weight and better ‘feel’ for the terrain oftentimes come at the expense of sore, aching soles (not to mention the occasional sharp pebble that always seems to catch me by surprise!). The All Out Crush has a nice, minimalistic heel-toe differential, with 18mm in the forefoot and 24mm in the heel for a 6mm drop, an amount that is sure to provide a better ‘feel’ for the trail.
TPU outer mesh
I initially took Merrell All Out Crush shoes out on an easy road run to try and break them in before hitting the trails. I was immediately aware of how airy the open TPU outer mesh made them feel and how light the shoes were (approximately 227g depending on the size), somewhat similar to the Reebok All-Terrain Super shoes that I had been using previously. The extra support that the ‘Trailprotect’ pad gave the soles of my feet some welcome protection but I felt that it took away a little bit of the ‘feel’ for the terrain. The deep 5mm lugs of Merrell’s in-house M-select grip outsole gave me a ‘springy’ step when running on the roads as it is made from soft rubber but the aggressive lugs left me with some play underfoot, just as the Reebok’s did, telling me loud and clear that both shoes were definitely not designed for flat bitumen roads. A couple of days later, I took the Merrell All Out Crush shoes out for a trail run at the Bukit Kiara park. The run started out quite dry as I ran up the ‘Snakes and Ladders’ trail, and I quickly found that the impressive grip of the multi-directional pinwheel lugs and the flex cutouts on the forefoot of the outsole made both the ascents and descents on the twisty trails quite easy to handle. Frustratingly, dry conditions like these always seem to cause smaller pebbles and debris from the trail to sneak through the sides and make their way into the shoe itself, which is also an issue that the Reebok’s have. I doubt shoes that have built-in sock liners such as Merrell’s All Out Terra Trail would ever face this issue.
It started to rain lightly halfway through the run, leaving everything a little moist underfoot. The grip remained exceptional except when I encountered wet tree roots, a reminder that I had to remain a little vigilant with my balance and steps. The rain began to pick up as I rounded the peak of Bukit Kiara, the heavy drops turning parts of the trail into muddy sections. Once again, the M-select grip did a great job and the pinwheel lugs seemed to help a great deal each and every time I encountered mud underfoot. I was also glad that the mud came off the lugs quickly, as mud retention was an issue that I had previously faced with a lot of shoes in the past. The heavy rain didn’t dampen the run in the slightest, in fact I found it very refreshing and think that I might even have picked up the speed a little bit. The rain did leave me soaked but the drainage ports in the sides of the shoes did quite a good job draining the water. I did notice that the water took a little bit longer to drain away but it was not by much. This is most likely because of the position of the ports in the middle of the shoe rather than right at the forefoot. I was exhilarated by the run nonetheless and cut in to the ‘twin peaks’ trail before starting to make my way back down.
• Has a nice balance of maintaining support whilst remaining very lightweight. • Has excellent grip and the pinwheel lugs shed mud quite well. • Quite durable and very easy to wash. • Sheds water well and has decent drainage thanks to dedicated drainage ports.
• Unlike the Merrell All Out Terra Trail, the All Out Crush has no built-in sock liners to keep small debris out of the shoes.
I personally feel that the Merrell All Out Crush shoes are very well-balanced lightweight trail shoes. They feel as if they can do almost anything whilst still retaining good flexibility and keeping the weight down. The traction is also second to none!
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"Ramon is a hiker, climber, and diver who loves to get off the beaten path. His website is a combination of his drive to explore and his passion to capture and share what he sees. Ramon is a bit of a minimalist and is currently torn between his yearning to travel the world and his need to decrease his carbon footprint. Read more here." View all posts by Ramon Fadli