Merrell is no stranger to the trail shoe market, having been a dominant force in the hiking world for decades. As for trail running shoes, Merrell is also a well known name, and has several options available, depending on your style and terrain type. One of their new releases is the Nova 2, which operates a little more like a low hiker but has the heart of a trail runner.
For this review, I am testing the Nova 2 Non-waterproof Wide model, size 9.5, in green. Typically speaking, I need a slightly wider shoe, specifically in the toe box. In this case, I was excited to learn that Merrell offered this model in a wide option. Finding trail running shoes that offer wider than normal options is not always easy, so if you’re one of those people, I get it!!
First impressions were good, as I pulled them out of the box. The Novas are well cushioned, with a thick tongue, thick upper that surrounds the ankle, traditional lacing including a secondary upper lace hole for locking in the ankle, and lots of mesh for good breathability. I put them on at home just to walk around in them at first. The wide option was noticeable and I immediately felt like these would not create blisters during my runs. They are a little heavier than what I am used to, but not terrible. Time for the real test!
First run: Forest Park is my back yard, and is definitely a great place to break in a new pair of shoes. I headed off into the north end of the park with the goal of pushing the Novas on both the ups and the downs. The first 2 miles were good, with solid traction on both rocks and dirt, but they also became a bit sloppy in the fit. After 3 miles I stopped and tightened the laces, which helped. The rest of the run (11 miles total with 2,600 feet of gain) was good, as my feet were happy to have the space they are used to. The overall fit is a bit sloppy, as they are not only wide in the toe box, but also wide in the arch and ankle, which makes it tough to tighten them to my feet better.
Second run: Like my first run the day before, I set out for the north end of Forest Park, looking to push the Novas a little more, on both the ups and downs, wanting to test their traction. On most of the trails, with the exception of loose gravel, the Novas are all-stars when it comes to grip, regardless of how steep it gets. The traction at both the toes and the heels are superb and I never felt like I was out of control.
In regards to the sloppiness of the fit, I played around with a different lacing technique and was able to get the shoes to cinch onto my feet a little better in the arch and ankle areas, but I don’t want to discount the overall fit, which is quite good. This run was slightly further than the day before (12.5 miles with 2,900 feet of gain). The insole offers a solid ride, the tongue and ankle cushioning are really comfy, and the rock plate/sole definitely work, as I pounded the down hills.
Here are the main product details:
• Mesh and TPU upper
• Traditional lace closure
• Padded collar
• External rear strap locks in the heel
• Breathable mesh lining
• Removable EVA insole
• Rock plate for protection
• Merrell Air Cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
• Forefoot and heel cushioning pods
• Lightweight EVA foam midsole for stability and comfort
• Vibram® TC5+ rubber sole
• Vegan friendly
• Stack height (heel/toe): 29.5mm/21.5mm; Drop: 8mm; Lug: 5mm
• Weight: 1lb 4oz / 560g (full pair)
Final review: Overall, these are a good trail running shoe as a trainer. For those who have wide feet, this option is definitely for you, as they have a lot of room from front to back. If you require a wider toe box only, these are probably not what you are looking for, as the rest of the shoe is a bit sloppy.
The traction and grip is fantastic, regardless of your pace or level of trail aggression. The Vibram sole is tough, and along with the rock plate, these are definitely meant to be hammered on, with good overall support. Lastly, the price is good and well worth it, as this model does not break the budget.
Products & Price:
- Nova 2 ($140)
More about Merrell:
WHO WE ARE: Merrell exists to share the simple power of being outside. We believe the trail is for everyone. Our goal is to provide thoughtfully designed, rigorously tested products that over-deliver on performance, versatility, and durability.
OUR PURPOSE: At Merrell, we believe in sharing the simple power of being outside. No matter who you are, where you came from, who you love or how you move — Everyone should be welcome in the outdoors and wherever life takes us. We strive to inspire everyone because, together, we can help protect the trail we love.
Thank you to Merrell for providing us with sample pairs. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.