Merrell is well-known for their variety of and quality of footwear built for outdoor adventure. While their popular hiking boots and shoes are near-ubiquitous, they seem to be slightly less-known in the pure trail running world. With renewed focus in trail and even road running, Merrell is introducing several great new styles for the everyday trail runner. I’ve now been running in the new Merrell CTR Cruise trail runners for awhile and have been impressed thus far.

Merrell CTR Cruise Features:

  • M-fit semi-curved gender specific anatomical last
  • T-cup slip resistant heel and tongue construction
  • Nature-Tex™ recycled strobel board
  • Outlast® heat management sock liner
  • Ortholite® anti-microbial comfort foam sock insert
  • DWR treatment provides Durable Water resistance
  • ir3™ rubber outsole for durability and traction
  • gait-phase (g-pHASe™) midsole cushioning
  • g3-pHASe™ provides responsive heel cushioning
  • ir1™ Sticky rubber for lateral traction and grip
  • Weight: 13.4 oz. / 382 gm (1/2 pair)
  • Colors: Black/Gold/Bungee (tested), Brindle/Red, Grey/Yellow, Grey/Lime, Grey/Orange
  • MSRP: $110

Merrell CTR Cruise Trail Running Shoes Review

Looking them over, they appeared a bit too chunky for efficiency on the trail (so I thought). Well, that chunky-ness actually provides one of the more comfortable all-around trail running shoes I’ve got in the stable. The CTR Cruise is indeed a great option for anyone looking for a supportive and versatile dirt training shoe.

So far this Spring, I’ve been able to use the CTR Cruise on dry/loose, snowpacked and muddy trails. In every condition, these shoes have performed very well. The sturdy and capable outsole digs into the terrain without flinching and maintains excellent traction both uphill and down. They shed the elements pretty well, thanks to the DWR treatment (also available in a Gore-Tex version), but don’t go crossing streams in them.

What I really like about these shoes is the overall stability and cushioning. I mentioned that before, but these shoes cushion every step in a way that would make every podiatrist smile. As a flat-footer, I’ve been able to slip my SOLE insoles inside them and run without any bone-jarring that I can sometimes find with svelte trail shoes. These are by no means svelte (13.4 oz each), but that extra weight is put to good use in the superb midsole and heel cushioning (g-pHASe and g3-pHASe).

The non-gusseted tongue is aided by a small scree guard covering the lowest two lace holes. This prevents dirt and rocks from entering, but I’d prefer to see that come up just a little higher. Speaking of dirt, the uppers clean up nicely after tackling muddy trails–a nice bonus.

Merrell, no doubt makes a quality hiking boots and casual shoes, but their trail runners are also very solid choices for the casual trail runner or for someone who needs extra cushioning. The CTR Cruise is worth a try if you are looking for a comfortable, supportive mountain runner.

The Good

  • Very supportive
  • Cushioning is killer… an excellent training/crossover shoe
  • Excellent traction
  • Breathes well (only tested in Spring… up to 60 degrees)
  • Feels instantly comfortable
  • Performs well in inclement weather
  • Smooth stride for trail running or walking

The Bad

  • May be a tad heavy for race-day
  • Scree guard should come up a tad higher
  • Forefoot area bunches up a little when cinched (I have low-volume feet)

Bottom Line: Merrell CTR Cruise

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the overall performance of the new Merrell CTR Cruise trail runner. They are extremely-comfortable and very versatile as a training shoe. They are supportive and cushioned enough for light road use as well. A great new offering from Merrell.

Buy Now: Find Merrell Shoes at REI

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly 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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