The Mix Master Move (M3… my special code for the shoe) is the second of my Merrell M-Connect reviews. The idea behind the lineup is to produce a line of shoes that meet the needs of every aspect of the minimalist market. The last shoe I reviewed, the Proterra, is a lightweight hiking shoe. By contrast, the M3 is a road shoe. Specifically, I would classify it as a “transition” shoe that would be appropriate for road runners moving from highly structured motion control shoes to minimalism.
The shoe is built on the same last as the Mix Master 1 and Mix Master 2 trail shoes, but replaces the trail lugs with a road-appropriate tread. Like the Mix Master 2, the shoe has a 4mm heel-to-toe drop. The shoe does have a removable insole for those that would prefer slightly less cushioning, which would reduce the drop differential by a millimeter or two.
The M3 is a little bit lighter than the trail version. The size 12 men’s weighs in at a respectable 9.9 ounces (compared to 10.3 for the MM2.) he biggest issue I faced was the shape of the shoe. The shoe isn’t built on Merrell’s barefoot last, which has an anatomical shape that perfectly matches my feet. Instead, it’s built on the same last as the MM2. It fits my foot adequately, but the more traditional shape has a tendency to rub my foot in weird places necessitating the use of socks.
Shape aside, the shoe is quite versatile. It functions perfectly on the road, though the 4mm drop over hard, flat surfaces tends to irritate my knees and back.
On trails, the 4mm drop is less of an issue. As such, I was pleasantly surprised with the shoe’s performance on trails. I used them on a wide variety of trails ranging from non-technical dirt trails to gnarly technical rocky trails. The tread provided ample traction on all surfaces. In fact, the trail performance rivaled the trail-specific Mix Master 2. I would strongly consider the M3 over the MM2 for all but muddy trail running.
So which Merrell should you buy?
If you’re interested in making the transition from heavy, cushioned shoes to more minimal shoes, the minimal drop and light weight make the M3 an ideal first step in that transition. If you’re interested in a versatile road or trail shoe, the M3 should be a serious consideration.
Personally, I would use the M3 as a trail shoe if I needed some protection but wanted a lightweight option instead of the heavier Proterra. For road running, I would prefer the Vapor Glove, Road Glove 2, or Bare Access 2, or just run barefoot. Here are my current trail preferences:
- Nontechnical or moderately technical trails: Trail Glove
- Gnarly technical trails with lots of gravel/loose rock in dry conditions: M3
- Gnarly technical trails with lots of bare rock in dry conditions: Bare Access 2
- Gnarly technical trails in wet conditions: MM2
- Night running over technical trails: Proterra
All in all, the M3 fills the 4mm transition shoe void that had been absent in Merrell’s lineup. It has the potential for broad appeal from those that are in the process of transitioning to road runners to trail runners. It’s a solid addition to the M-Connect lineup!
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This shoe was provided by the manufacturer.