Trail Running Shoes 2012: Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock & Glide

$120 The Running Bug: 4.5 / 5 One of the first real "barefoot" shoes that allows for full-on running. Good for midfoot-striking minimalists running in cool and wet conditions. User Reviews: -The Aeroblock is a lightweight trail shoe that offers a good deal of protection from the terrain and elements. The construction is high quality, just as you would expect from Merrell and, having given the shoe a hammering this past month in all weathers and on a variety of terrains, there is no evidence of any wear on the sole or on the shoe itself. -Performance-wise, the Aeroblock coped well with all manner of terrain, from forest tracks and trails to steep muddy ascents and pavements/roads. The only issue I experienced was with some slight slippage on a mossy, damp, compacted trail close to home but then, for comparisons sake, I ran the same trail this weekend in my Inov8s and found the exact same issue. -Merrell will soon carve themselves a niche in the lightweight trainer market as well as in the minimalist market. The Aeroblock was comfortable from the outset, although, coming from Inov8 315s and Merrell Trail Gloves, with ample room in the toe box, the snug, glove-like fit of the Mix Master Aeroblock did take a bit of getting used to. I do have particularly wide feet however and any thoughts about the snug fit soon passed once I started running. -I don’t know about the Mix Masters. My feet slide forward too easily on a decline, no matter what I do with the lacing, which results in some uncomfortable toe jamming. The fit in the trail glove and road glove both did a good job of holding my foot in place, so I was a bit disappointed. -My favorite thing about the Mix Master 2 is the fit – like the Merrell Barefoot shoes it feels as if it was made specifically for my foot shape. The heel and midfoot are snug but not constricting, and the forefoot is plenty roomy for me. I get no hotspots from this shoe, even when sockless, which is a big plus. -Hard-core trail runners will appreciate the light weight and protection. Those living in the snow belt will appreciate the added warmth and water resistance. Fashionistas will appreciate the aesthetics.

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