Updated: Feb 7
Merrell deserves a hard-earned place in the upper echelons of trail running shoes, even if the spotlight has focused on other brands as of late.
The Agility Peak 4 will appeal to almost any foot on a huge variety of terrains, and will last longer than other, more popular brands.
Merrell knows how to make sensible and durable shoes, and now they can add sleek, functional design to their toolbox.
Of all the Merrell shoes on the trail, I think the Agility Peak 4 captures the widest array of
terrain and distances.
The longer you run in this shoe, the better it feels. The shoe body is superbly constructed and quite durable.
While sturdy, the shoe body feels over-padded with fabric, making for hot running when the
trail heats up. This seems to be a perpetual problem with Merrell shoes.
The toe box stifled my foot, and I stopped several times to loosen laces. This could just be a “new shoe” issue, but I do maintain that Merrell goes overboard on the fabric—especially since the competition out there uses such thin, strong, and breathable fabric technologies.
The Agility Peak 4 will appeal to a wide variety of feet. The laces tension fluidly and consistently from back to front, and the grommet lace loops allowed for smooth cinching, even when things got particularly dusty.
I like how the grommets cause less friction on the laces themselves, thus extending the life of the lace.
It’s a great shoe on the steeps, whether you shuffle the ups or charge the downs. The front
aspect of the outsole isn’t overbuilt, and allows for rapid touch-and-go footwork without
bogging down on big lugs.
In contrast, the powerfully built extended heel on the outsole gives you license to bomb hills. Not a great shoe for long, flat trails, but I was able to maintain some good tempo paces on moderate rolling terrain.
While I do maintain that Merrell tends to overbuild their uppers, I think this shoe uses the extra skin to its advantage. You really don’t notice anything brushing or banging your foot.
The lugs on the forefoot aren’t very large, which gives the shoe a little bit of zip and foot-control. I like the rubber compound on large size scree, loose soil, and technical rocky trail.