Merrell has adopted the barefoot running philosophy throughout their line. In fact, you can’t even find a performance-oriented pair of trail runners in their line that’s not zero drop or minimalist in nature. As most manufacturers have swung back towards the middle in their shoe designs, Merrell has also, while retaining all the goodness of their original barefoot designs. That’s where the new AllOut Fuse comes in.

Merrell AllOut Fuse Features:

  • Mesh, synthetic and leather upper
  • Protective toecap
  • Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
  • Merrell Omni-Fit Lacing system provides a precise, glove-like fit
  • Breathable mesh lining treated with M Select FRESH odor control
  • Wash as needed in cold water (gentle cycle) air dry
  • UniFly™ Midsole disperses impact and stabilizes for a solid takeoff
  • M Select GRIP tunes each outsole with durable traction that grips when and where you need it
  • Drop: 6mm
  • Weight: 8 oz (each, stated), 18.4 oz per pair (size 11, weighed)
  • MSRP: $110

Trail Testing the Merrell AllOut Fuse Minimalist Trail Running Shoes

Lighting Up the Trails in the AllOut Fuse

Last year, my favorite trail runners were the Pearl Izumi N1 Trail’s. Their “just right” design made them an easy pick. Starting off this year, I’ve been really impressed with the also “just right” AllOut Fuse trail runners. Built using the same barefoot technologies that Merrell has perfected over the past several years, the Fuse has just enough protection and cushioning to satisfy those looking for a minimalist-like shoe that won’t require months of break-in (the runner, not the shoes).

Out of the box, the Fuse is light and instantly comfortable. The insoles and lining are stitched for a unified feel that can be worn sockless (if that’s your thing). With socks, they instantly feel part of you and move with your every move. The unique lacing system wraps the forefoot perfectly. Just pull the laces and you’re locked in — very cool.

While the midfoot is locked into place, the roomy toebox allows the forefoot to spread out naturally. After years of squeezing my toes into pointed toeboxes, it’s always so nice to have enough wiggle room to allow the piggies to act as individual units. Even more, it’s great to have enough room to wear a pair of Injinji toe socks without having to endure a crowded toebox.

I wear a variety of trail running shoes — from maximalist to minimalist — and, even though Merrell recommends a runner break-in period, I’ve got enough of a running base that it took me very little time to get used to the feel of the Fuse. I supplemented my trail-time with wearing them around for several days. Tell you what, the Fuse not only makes for a great ultralight trail runner, but they are also awesome all-day shoes for around town adventure. Only on the tail end of a few of my longer outings did my feet begin to feel fatigued. For an experienced runner who has been using minimalist shoes, the transition should be easy — just easing into longer and longer runs (as I’ve experienced).

Merrell AllOut Fuse Trail Running Shoes Review

The Fuse runs fast on the trails. Each step flows to the next without anything hindering your stride. As I’ve put on the miles, I’ve come to appreciate their efficiency more and more. In fact, I’ve nabbed several PR’s on my local trails. These are trails I’ve run literally hundreds of times, so that’s saying something.

I really like the feel of these shoes and how flexible they are without being too minimalist. The uppers breathe really well and the comfort is outstanding. However, there are a few things that are worth mentioning. First off, make no mistake, these are still minimalist shoes and the forefoot protection will leave your feet reeling when running on sharp, pointy rocks. Luckily, being light on your feet can help minimize the intrusion.

As a natural mid-to-forefoot striker, these shoes took little time to feel at home on the trails. My natural stride is perfectly-suited to the Allout Fuse and my increased running efficiency shows it. The forefoot contours to the trails and provides an excellent platform to propel you into the next step.

The low-profile treads don’t offer the kind of bite that comes in handy here in Utah. On hard packed trails, everything is copacetic, but once things get loose and rocky, slippage occurs. To best minimize the lack of traction, I found it best to run at a higher cadence with soft steps. Watch out for wet rocks as the rubber also loses traction there.

Note: My size 11 test shoes fit true to size with just the right amount of extra wiggle room in the toebox. 

The Good

  • Top-notch breathability
  • Low profile lugs offer fast traction
  • Love the extra wide toebox
  • Foot-cradling lacing system
  • Excellent stability
  • Set some of my fastest pace times
  • Comfortable around town
  • Great on the treadmill (it happens sometimes)

The Bad

  • Wet traction is surprisingly poor
  • Sharp, pointy rocks poke right through

The Bottom Line

For short and medium distances, the Merrell AllOut Fuse has been fantastic. They run fast and allow you to feel very connected to the trails. The uppers cradle your feet really well while the forefoot has plenty of wiggle room for your toes to spread out and make running even more efficient.

Buy Now: Available at REI

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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