Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Pros: The Skyfire 2 is a lightweight attack vehicle for your foot, and runners will love the nimble yet aggressive approach this shoe’s construction provides. What’s more, a sturdy heel cup conveys confidence to each stride, encouraging fleet descents and bursts of speed. The diagonal lace holder on the tongue provides an innovative yet simplified approach to the age old problem of lace bounce. The lugs, at 5mm, clutch at trails without snagging, allowing quick foot recoil.
Cons: For a shoe as keen for battle as the Skyfire 2, the harnessing leaves some things to be
desired. The laces are stiff and not very compliant with standard knotting, and the tightly
pleated uppers provide next to no flex and stretch around the bridge of the foot. To be honest, the foot feels lashed and leashed over the foot arch. Secure? Yes, but not super comfy. Some more stretchy harnessing element would go a long way to making this shoe better than its already impressive pedigree. In short, I think the foot needs room to flex, even in aggressive shoes like the Skyfire 2.
Overall impression: At long last, Merrell has reigned in their longstanding tendency to over-
apply traditional upper material. Their shoes have always been plush and comfortable, if
perhaps too built up. No longer. The Skyfire 2 absolutely rips with a lean, minimalist approach. The shift comes with exciting features, like a layered plate in the midsole for snappy footwork, a flex plate secured heel cup for trail stability, and futuristic upper material that is both breathable and bombproof.
Fit: The fit feels tailored, so don’t expect lots of adjustability. Most runners will want to wear
thin socks with this shoe. The laces could use some work. They feel a bit stiff, but that’s an easy fix. I appreciate the rigidity of the heel cup, especially on pounding descents.
Ride: While boned for quick trail paces, the Skyfire 2 felt great on the flats, gravel, and road
miles. The 6mm drop turns the dial up on forward foot momentum. I appreciate that. But I
think the fact that the shoe is so minimally constructed gives you a sense of riding a raging bull. Still, I could see doing a bunch of miles in this shoe without succumbing to foot fatigue.
Traction/protection: I was worried the 5mm lugs would be a tad aggressive for such a fast
shoe. The trails I frequently swallow and lugs if you aren’t careful. Many runners will want a super secure upper to accommodate the torsion and stress of heavily lugged traction. I was pleased to find the Skyfire 2 a well-balanced shoe in this regard: you can run with deft sensitivity while really periodically digging into sandier, loose sections of trail.
Launch Date: Spring 2023
Weight: Half weight men’s size 9: 6.88 oz (195 grams)
Drop: 6.0 Lug: 5.0