- Type : Neutral
- Use : All-terrain
- Price : $100
A couple weeks ago, if you’d asked me whether a jack-of-all-trades, all-terrain shoe was fit for trail running, I would’ve said no with quite a bit of assurance. Pretty much any shoe of that type that I’d seen before presented the same problem; an outsole too stiff and hard, designed to resist the wear of pavement, which made it unfit for the trails, where grip is key. That was until I tried the Trail Crusher.
Merrell has been making some excellent running shoes, with models such as the Bare Access and its Trail version (probably one of the very best trail running shoes made in recent years, in my opinion). Lately, they had seemed to have gone the maximalist route, with shoe models offering more and more stack height and cushioning, as seems to be the trend these days, and which was a huge disappointment to all the neutral-type shoe enthusiasts.
Well, it seems they are back on track with the Trail Crusher, with a reasonable cushioning of 18mm to 14mm, heel to toe and a drop of 4mm which should suit a large swath of runners. Although not the lightest of shoes, they kept the weight down to a decent 12oz and the shoe does feel a little heavy when you weight it, but that feeling disappears when you actually put it on.
I started testing the Trail Crusher on asphalt, as it is my personal nemesis. The hard surface kills my knees and requires me to use more cushioning than I’d like, making my choice of road shoe even more tedious and difficult. I want nothing to have with motion control or density variations in the sole, which even further limits my choices.
The shoe felt light and nimble, and as the miles piled up, provided enough protection against shocks to make me feel comfortable for going a little longer. In fact, I started to think that the Trail Crusher, despite its name, would probably turn out to be much more of a road runner than anything else.
Then I headed for the trails. Although admittedly they were not the most technical, they still offered some roots, uneven footing, some loose rocks and various other hazards requiring at least some level of grip and agility. I was very pleased to find out that the outsole’s design, which doesn’t really look like a hardcore nubby trail shoe, actually works really well and retains surprising proprioception for a relatively-cushioned shoe. The bubble-looking tread concept has probably been borrowed from the hiking department, as I’ve seen very similar-looking soles on Merrell products before. My only worry is how the Trail Crusher will retain its grip with the eventual wear of the oval shapes, but that remains to be seen.
With its decent flex, reasonable weight and no-nonsense design, it seems that the Trail Crusher has successfully combined the requirements to be both a road and a trail shoe, which is quite a feat, and excellent news for budget-weary runners who enjoy a variety of terrains. Merrell’s signature wide toebox and some reinforcements at both ends of the upper complete an intelligent design and impressed me almost as much as the Bare Access model, enough so that I will be buying extra pairs just in case they would choose to stop production before my first pair wears out.
If you run on multiple surfaces, enjoy light neutral shoes without excessive cushioning and don’t want to own 15 different models of footwear to cover every type of terrain you run on, the Trail Crusher is an excellent contender, very well-designed and reasonably-priced. As far as all-terrains go, it doesn’t get much better than that.
- In line with Merrell’s previous designs like the Bare Access
- Sole design actually works on all terrains
- Pretty good pricing
- Not sure how the grip will be when the outsole starts to wear out
- Heel cup is surprisingly high and reaches above usual on my Achilles tendon