Same is Boring and the MTL Skyfire 2 is Not

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 when trying out shoes like Merrell. However, if it’s good enough for them, it sure as heck better be good enough for me, right?!

Merrell Test Lab, or MTL, is where the outdoors is your lab and the shoes there are created to accommodate a runner’s relentless drive to reach the next peak (literally and figuratively).

Read on for a more middle-of-the-road runner’s take on the new Merrell MTL Skyfire2, but take that these make me want to hit the trails even more!

See all our reviews on Merrell Here!

This is a good looking shoe. It’s a bit classic with a bit of flair. All components of the shoe (upper, midsole, and outsole) are created with a mostly white base colorway. While the latter two areas stay essentially that way, the upper gets a bold red and orange striping that runs from the outer of the shoe to the inner. It crosses over halfway throuth the laces and ends near the toe. It’s a pretty cool pattern.

There is quite a bit of bold writing on the upper – as both Merrell and MTL Skyfire 2 are adorned visually on either side. There is going to be no doubt what shoe you are wearing!

Fit & Construction:

The first thing likely anyone will notice when picking these up, outside of the visuals, is the weight. Pulling them out of the box, I was struck that a seemingly well-constructed trail shoe could be this light. I mean we are talking about 7 ounces light (in standard sizing). That’s impressive stuff.

The fit is pretty snug I don’t think those that have wider feet are going to love the feel of these as a result. It is a pretty narrow shoe overall through the midfoot especially and we think thinner trail socks are in order. . Here are some specs on the construction:

There is a lot of tech in the Skyfire 2 – so much so that it won a famed ISPO Award. It’s just a shoe that is made to go fast.


The upper is super lightweight and made of a breathable mesh and TPU material that keeps the feet cool and dry, even during long runs. It provides a nice lock in place, but I think there is a room for enhanced flexibility. While the upper provided solid security (I have not felt unstable on any run), the comfort of said security – on top of the midfoot at least – seemed a little off. It was definitely functional, but less comfortable that some options out there. I just wanted a little more give.

The tongue is super thin and the 100% recycled laces provide a solid bite when needed. The laces are a little stiff overall, but have handled the job well. There is a diagonal elastic strap that sits above them – connecting both sides of the shoe. It may be to keep the laces in place and not bouncing around, but I found it also allowed me to have some security up top without needing to overtie the veracity my knots (which inevitably leads to me having foot discomfort).


This is where the magic happens in the Skyfire 2. It’s relatively impossible to have a heavy duty trail shoe weigh in around 7 ounces without some tech updates in the midsole to make it happen.

It is evident that this is not a super cushioned shoe. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot there and it’s by no means uncomfortable, but it skews more to a lower profile and trail-feeling design. The lightweight, full-length FlexPlate inside provides some snap and security – which is appreciated in a shoe that wants to go fast. Couple that with a FloatPro Foam midsole and  a (non-removeable) EVA foam footbed and the Skyfire2 definitely has a tailored fit and feel.

One area that typically exhausts my feet when trail running (outside of the lung-crushing climbs – duh) are the pounding descents. I already heel strike and, coupled with an average speed on the trails, the crushing of my body weight on the heel portion of the shoes can be pretty rough. I found this heel cup to be strong and rigid and seems like it will help alleviate some of these issues.


The sole is super well made, with Vibram rubber that provides great traction on all kinds of terrain – wet of dry. The lugs, at 5mm, are pretty aggressive and do the job very well. This probably fit at the higher end of lug size that I need, as most of the trails I frequent aren’t all that technical. However, it does seem to hold up well to looser gravel and wet trails well without sinking in. Overall, a really nice outsole – especially for those who need/want that extra bite.


This is a lean and mean trailrunning machine. It is “minimalistic” shoe in some capacity – providing a light, streamlined, speed-desiring construction.

I see the Skyfire 2 really being an amazing option for those (like our trail running blogger Drew) who tackle the trails with speed and aggressiveness. For those whose moments on the trail aren’t always PR-inducing (and who slow to take a bunch of pictures for social media…), the profile may be a little less important.

MTL Merrell Skyfire 2 $200


  • Stack Height: 25-19mm
  • Drop: 6mm
  • Lug: 5mm


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Thank you to Merrell for providing us with test shoes. Please read our transparency page for info on how we do our reviews.

About Author

Matt Rasmussen lives in Keizer, Ore. with his wife and three daughters. He enjoys watching hockey, going to as many breweries (618) and wineries (152) as he can, and all things Canada (he was born there). Matt was raised as a baseball player and officially transitioned over to running in 2010.

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