Merrell Test Lab where the outdoors is your lab and with your relentless drive to reach the next peak (literally and figuratively.)
I am not a professional trail runner. Shoot – I am hardly a novice trail runner most years. I put in a cool three digits in trail running each year, but with three kids at home and a full-time non-blog job, my time to spend hours on the trails is limited. So the phrase “Designed in Partnership with World Class Athletes” makes me feel a bit like a fraud. However, if it’s good enough for them, it sure as heck better be good enough for me, right?!
Read on for a more middle-of-the-road runner’s take on the new Merrell MTL Long Sky 2, but take note off the bat that these make me want to hit the trails even more!
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Same Is Boring. This is a phrase that Merrell uses to describe its commitment in the trail running sphere. And, the looks of the new MTL Long Sky 2 are anything but same or boring. The color scheme (Tangerine) is somehow both flashy and subdued. The flare of the red front, in contrast to the muted blue/grey on the back, really pop to create a sharp looking shoe.
The upper is made from mesh, making it really breathable. At first glance it looks a bit narrow, but there is a ton of stretch to the upper that really holds the foot in place without it feeling constricted.
There is a little added structure near the toes to keep things a little more rigid where you need it most (you know, like when inevitably kicking tree roots and rocks). That will add some durability to the Long Sky 2’s.
The tongue is pretty unique in that it is integrated into the shoe itself, held down over the top of the foot and secured to the interior side. It kind of feels like a secure boot within the shoe. It really works well in tandem with the upper to offer a premium fit. Honestly, I don’t think I have worn trail footwear that have felt so comforting and stable right out of the box. There has been no issues with finding the secure fit and simple ties have done the trick without needing to feel like my feet are on a gurney.
A new component within the Long Sky 2’s is the Float Pro midsole a durable and lighter foam that was introduced in a well-loved Merrell shoe – the Moab Flight.
The stack height is relatively low (23.5/19.5mm) all things considered. It seems like many running shoe companies are transitioning more towards the maximum end of the spectrum in new release running shoes. We don’t have issues with this, but we know that style is not for everyone. We felt the lower profile in the Long Sky 2’s provide a runner with a little more control and feel on the ground.
That being said, the FloatPro midsole seems to hold up well to that groundfeel. I felt cushioned and supported – even on some rougher terrain. Though please note that these fit more firm than springy – and adjust your expectations accordingly.
It’s really hard to complain about the outsole. Merrell continues the use of their Vibram Megagrip, which comes complete with solid 5mm lugs.
I really don’t think there is much terrain that these can’t handle. Due to the late Spring rains, I had a few opportunities to try these out in wet/sloppier conditions and there were no issues. Using them in dry conditions is also not an issue. Really, there are no complaints from us here.
I touched upon the fit a little in the sections above, and you can tell that I am a fan. My feet have felt as comfortable and secure in the Long Sky 2’s as I ever would have hoped. It fits a little lighter (10.5 oz for a US M10.5) and my turnover feels a little quicker as a result.
This is a really amazing trail shoe that seems to not get in its own way. Sure, there is a lot of great tech to these, as well as an environmentally-improved design, but overall it’s a straightforward option that just checks all the boxes.
It’s been a bit challenging to find something to significantly nitpick in these shoes – we like them that much. I do wish the tongue was just a tad bit longer, but overall that’s not really much besides a personal preference. There may be some rubbing if you wear shorter socks while trail running, but I am guessing most of us don’t.
While I will mention, for the third time now, that I am not an ultra runner, I would think that these maaay not be for those who are looking to tackle those ridiculously challenging long distances. Obviously, the Long Sky’s are technical enough to handle it, but I would imagine their firmer fit being something that may not be as ideal on those all day runs. Though, for 99% of us trail runners – these will be up to the task.
While I personally may not need this addition, the Long Sky 2’s come complete with gaiter attachments for those who are ready to tackle some serious trail.
There is also a lot of commitment to improving their “footprint” in the design. Here are just some of these:
- 100% recycled laces
- 100% recycled tongue webbing
- 100% recycled TPU reinforcements
- EVA foam insole with 100% recycled top sheet
It is great to see another shoe company making strides to improve this aspect for a sport that needs to practice what it preaches. Kudos to Merrell.
And another kudos to Merrell for making such a strong showing in their Merrell Test Lab. The Long Sky 2’s are an affordable, comfortable, and technical shoe that should keep you happy wherever the trails take you this year.
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- MTL Long Sky | $130 – Releasing Summer 2022
- Weight: 10.5 oz (M10.5);
- Offset: 4mm (23.5mm/19.5mm)
Thank you to Merrell for providing us with test shoes. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.