Guest review by Nicole
The Merrell Bare Access Arc 2 is my first barefoot shoe, and I'm incredibly happy to have this as part of my hiking gear.
I always thought I disliked hiking long distances, as my feet would feel heavy even in normal cross-trainers. However, two months after switching to the Bare Access, I can easily do 10-12 miles, and am now working my way up to longer hikes.
I used the Merrells in Glacier National Park last week and took them on 46 miles of a wide variety of trails. Trail conditions included well-groomed packed-dirt, areas of large and small rock, and even crossing narrow areas of waterfall. I was very happy with the grip and stability on all surfaces.
Crossing Grinnell Glacier Trail waterfall
After hiking Grinnell Glacier trail, which had the most areas of small and medium sharp rock, my feet were pretty tender. On all other days my feet felt like they had a workout, but were not sore. I wore them with wicking sport liner socks as well as lightweight merino socks, and my feet always felt dry, comfortable, and light. The shoes got a bit of internal and external wear on the trip but the sole tread still looks very good and I expect them to last another hundred or so miles.
Prior to this trip, I wore these shoes 2-3 miles a day in and around NYC without socks, and took them on about 40 miles of primarily well-groomed, packed-dirt local trails with a wicking liner sock. They performed really well in both situations. On one of the hikes, we were caught in a rain storm on the way back to the car. During the light rain, my feet felt comfortable even though damp, so much so that I praised them to my hiking partners. However, probably like just about any shoe, once it was raining hard and I was walking through puddles, they got a little heavier and squishy. They took about 5 hours in the sun to completely dry out, and lost their "no-smell" properties.
After my experience in Glacier, I am ordering the Vivobarefoot Neo Trail Running shoe for extra protection when I know that trails will have areas of sharp rock, but plan to continue to wear these as my primary city footwear and for soft or short trails.
Thanks for the guest review, Nicole!
Note: If you're looking to pick up the Merrell Bare Access Arc 2, it can be found online at REI?on sale, incidentally.