Minimalist footwear was Phase 1 of the Barefoot Revolution, but pure minimalism isn’t for everybody.  The next stage of the paradigm shift is to capture the essence of barefoot biomechanics in a wider variety of footwear.  This spring, Merrell’s new M-Connect footwear line has something for everybody along the natural running spectrum.

Merrel M Connect lineup

The M-Connect Line

Barefoot (Road Glove 2):

  • 4mm midsole cushioning
  • Total stack height 9.5mm (men’s and women’s)
  • 0mm heel to toe drop
  • Weight: 7oz (men’s) or 6oz (women’s)
  • MSRP $100

Bare Access 2:

  • 8mm midsole cushioning
  • Total stack height: 13.5mm (men’s) or 12.55 mm (women’s)
  • 0mm heel to toe drop
  • Weight: 7oz (men’s) or 5.5oz (women’s)
  • MSRP $90

Mix Master Move:

  • 8mm midsole cushioning
  • Total stack height: 19mm (men’s) or 18mm (women’s)
  • 4mm heel to toe drop
  • Weight: 8oz (men’s) or 7oz (women’s)
  • MSRP $95

Proterra Sport:

  • 8mm midsole cushioning
  • Total stack height: 21mm (men’s) or 20.5mm (women’s)
  • 0mm heel to toe drop
  • Weight: 13.5oz (men’s) or 11oz (women’s)
  • MSRP $100

Merrell M-Connect Series Overview

Merrell was the first major player in the barefoot category with the introduction of its Barefoot Run series more than two years ago.  Since that time, two things have happened:

  1. Growth in the barefoot and natural running area has exploded
  2. Merrell has been diligently gathering feedback from its first generation of barefoot shoes.

In response to both of those developments, Merrell has created the M-Connect line, a footwear collection grounded in minimalist principles that appeals to a wide range of users depending on their chosen activity as well as the amount of traditional shoe design they desire. All of the shoes provide enhanced ground connection, a result of the company’s efforts with the University of Virginia’s SPEED Performance Clinic and Motion Analysis Lab to find an ideal blend of flexibility, stability, and traction with the entire line of shoes.  Additionally, each product in the M-Connect line continues the design elements that Merrell introduced with its first Barefoot line: natural biomechanics, a glove-like fit, and light, flexible design.

Left to right: Proterra Mid, Mix Master Move, Road Glove 2.0

The line consists of four primary models, available in both men’s and women’s versions.  The Barefoot Road Glove 2 is an update to the company’s popular road running model; it’s the lightest and lowest of the group, and geared toward experienced minimalist runners.  The Bare Access 2 is another running model continued from last year, which offers a bit more midsole cushioning on the same zero-drop platform as the Road Glove.  The Mix Master is a multi-sport shoe with a 4mm heel to toe drop for those who are transitioning to more natural biomechanics.  Finally, the Proterra is a next-generation hiking shoe built on a thicker zero-drop platform that merges Merrell’s boot-making expertise with their modern lightweight materials and Barefoot construction principles.

Outsole design for each of the shoes is different, as the run-specific models are less knobby than the multi-sport and hike-specific models.  However, even Road Glove and Bare Access are intended primarily as road models, the Vibram outsole is more than adequate to use for most trail running conditions* you encounter, and they work as great hybrid on/off-road shoes.


(*And for conditions that are too hardcore for the Road Gloves, the company is also releasing an updated Trail Glove shoe this spring.)

Within the Connect line, there are also several models available to address even more specific activity requirements, design preferences, or environmental conditions.  For example, the Proterra comes in a mid-height version that comes above the ankle like traditional boots, and the Mix Master is super-versatile: it comes in either a “Tuff” version with a knobbier and grippier outsole, a waterproof-upper version, and a combined mid-high/tuff/waterproof version as well.  Along with the company’s existing selection of sandals, water shoes, and children’s shoes, Merrell has established itself as the most comprehensive manufacturer of barefoot and natural footwear.

Pretty.  Strong.  It's a Merrell thing.

Pretty. Strong. It’s a Merrell thing.

Learn More: See the M-Connect Collection at 

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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