Part of the new breed of minimal, yet cushioned trail running shoes from Merrell’s M-Connect range.
The Mix Master Tuffs are part of Merrell’s burgeoning range of barefoot and minimal footwear. In recognition of the fact that uncompromising barefoot running may not be for everyone the Mix Master Tuff picks some of the best barefoot elements whilst rounding off some of the harsher bits.
For instance they use a 4mm drop from heel to toe, which is clearly not the zero drop demanded by barefoot purists, but is a low way short of the 8-12mm average in a standard runner. Tacked in underneath the slight drop is a fairly hefty 12mm of cushioning in the midsole.
In practice what this means is that you are encouraged into a mid-foot striking technique without risking over-stressing your feet too much. You get to develop the high cadence, light-footed approach but without the risks. Running out in them with some basic barefoot technique in mind is a bit of a joy.
The added cushioning underneath a low-drop chassis is also a boon for the long distance off-roaders out there. Once you start to rack up the miles- especially on rougher terrain, the cushioning really is a help. The light weight of the shoes also means that your legs don’t really pay for the extra comfort the cushioning offers.
Up top, the uppers are incredibly well ventilated with a mesh-style design and are more than cool enough in warmer conditions. They’re obviously not waterproof but do drain incredibly quickly once wet as well. There is also a bit of a bellowed tongue design to help keep stones from getting inside. Not to mention a decent bit of toe protection in the form of a tough rand around the front of the toe box.
In true barefoot shoe style, there is plenty of room up front in the toebox to allow for plenty of room for movement- particularly welcome when splaying feet.
↑ The Good
- Great levels of cushioning
- Good ground feedback
- Good intro to the a low heel drop style shoe
↓ The not so Good
- Not for heel strikers
- Not for barefoot purists
Barefoot purists aren’t going to love the bulky design, but though new to mid and forefoot striking or those looking to take a minimal style to rougher terrain should definitely take a look.