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Merrell AllOut Rush Trail Shoe Review

Merrell AllOut RushI first saw the Merrell AllOut Rush at a meeting with the brand in Spring 2013. They were introducing the new AllOut line, and the emphasis was on added cushion while retaining some of the features that people like about the Merrell Barefoot/M-Connect collections. I was intrigued by the shoes since I’ve always felt that shoes like the Merrell Bare Access we just a bit too firm for my road running taste – add a bit of softer cushion and they’d be a great match for me.

I received the AllOut Rush last winter (Disclosure: these were media samples provided free of charge by Merrell), and it’s taken me a long time to get to this review. The main reason is because my experience with the shoes has been rather mixed. However, I believe in writing honest reviews, so I’m going to lay out my feelings on them here. I’d also be curious to hear about your experience with the Rush if you’ve tried them.

Merrell AllOut Rush side

Most of my initial runs in the AllOut Rush were during last winter, and so were on a mix of packed snow, ice, and intermittent bare asphalt. Though traction was good, the shoes just did not feel right on my feet. My expectation was a cushier ride given the added sole stack relative to other Merrell models I have run in, but the shoes felt surprisingly firm under all conditions, and particularly harsh on the stretches of road that I had to cover (and in fairness tom Merrell, this is not intended as a road shoe). I stopped running in them for a long time as a result. Last month I spent two weeks in northern Vermont and decided to take the shoes with me for a second chance – my feelings remained pretty similar, too firm a running shoe for my taste even on dirt roads and trails. It’s worth noting that Thomas Neuberger over at Believe in the Run had similar feelings about the ride of this shoe. (However, as I’ll get to below, I have found them to be great casual and light hiking shoes.)

While on the subject of cushion, there is some discrepancy between what Merrell reports for stack height (24.5mm heel, 18.5mm forefoot) vs. what Running Warehouse reports (28mm heel, 17mm forefoot). I just measured my pair and got 23mm heel, 16mm forefoot, but they have been broken in so my numbers are likely closer to Merrell’s numbers if it were a fresh shoe.

Merrell AllOut Rush sole

One thing to note about the stack height numbers in this shoe, and I think this influences the ride considerably, is that 8.5mm of the stack height is attributable to the luggy, rubber outsole. Simply stated, there is a lot of rubber on the bottom of this shoe. Much of the outsole is also continuous Merrell AllOut sole inserts– there are no breaks for flex grooves, so it makes it hard to compress the midsole in any given spot. I’m wondering if this helps to contribute to the firm-feeling ride. Merrell did also include firmer midsole plates under the heel and forefoot (see photo at right) and this might further add to the firm feel.

One of the issues that arises with the extensive outsole on this shoe is that it affects the way the shoe is balanced from a weight standpoint. Running Warehouse reports a weight of 9.1oz in men’s size 9 for the Rush, so it’s not a terribly heavy shoe. However, much of this weight is localized in the outsole, so it feels heavy under the foot. If I had to recommend a change for future iterations of the Rush it would be to maybe add some flex grooves to the outsole, or at least break it up in some way to reduce weight and improve the ability to compress the midsole cushion. I’m curious to try the Merrell AllOut Flash since it seems to incorporate many of these wishes (though it is a more road-oriented shoe).

Merrell AllOut Rush PuckeringOne final, minor complaint about the Rush before we get to the good stuff. When my buddy Nate got these shoes he notice that the forefoot upper tends to pucker when you cinch down the laces at the bottom of the lace row. He has narrower feet than me so the puckering was quite apparent. I have noticed this as well but on a much smaller scale and it has not interfered with comfort in my case (you can see the puckering in the photo to the left).

Given what I’ve written so far it might sound like the AllOut Rush was a total disaster for me. For running, yes, I’d say it has not been a good match. However, I have used the Rush extensively as a casual shoe and for light hiking, and for both purposes it has been excellent (and it’s also a great looking shoe from a design standpoint). My sense is really that the Rush should have been marketed more as a light hiker than as a trail running shoe because it excels in this area. I’ve done multiple short hikes in them, and the firmness ceases to be an issue. Furthermore, the extensive outsole becomes a plus for protection and grip on the trail. The weight balance also feels more boot-like than running-shoe like and so the Rush feels more at home in the hiking environment.

Another thing I really like about the Rush is the fit. The shoe fits like a typical Merrell Barefoot shoe (e.g., like the Bare Access or Trail Glove) so it has a nice, snug fit in the heel through forefoot and a great, roomy toebox. I particularly love that the Merrell toebox is accommodating near the big toe – you can see in the photo below how the forefoot does not curve inward abruptly in this area as it does in many other shoes. This allows for solid toe splay, and makes the shoes very comfortable for all-day wear.

Merrell AllOut Rush top

The upper of the Rush is minimally structured but is made of a relatively thick material. It does a good job of keeping the foot warm, and makes this a great all-around casual cool-weather shoe. And in winter the lugs make it great for walks in the snow and over crusty ice.

Conclusions

The Merrell AllOut Rush did not work out well for me as a running shoe – it felt too firm underfoot and I felt like the weight-balance was more boot-like than running shoe-like. However, due to its comfortable fit and performance as a light hiker and winter casual shoe, the Rush will likely remain on my shoe rack for the foreseeable future. If you like a firm feeling, luggy trail shoe with a fair amount of stack height, then the Merrell AllOut Rush might be worth a shot (we all have different preference!).

Purchasing Options

The Merrell AllOut Rush is available for purchase in the US from Running Warehouse, in multiple colorways at Zappos, and at Amazon.com. Outside of the US it can be purchased at Amazon UK or one of the many Merrell country-specific websites (e.g. Merrell UK here, Merrell Canada here). Purchases from these retailers provide a small commission to this site and help me to keep pumping out reviews like this one – your support is much appreciated!

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Denzil Jennings says:

    I haven’t run in any of the Merrells, but I’ve tried on quite a few pair in hopes of finding one I like since I love the look of a lot of their shoe, and I also love their honing boots. I always encounter the same problem though; the arch support feels too far forward and awkward. I’ve tried a range of sizes to see if that were the issue, but they just don’t seem to agree with me feet.

  2. Interesting. I have a pair of these and really enjoy running in them. They don’t feel too firm to me. They don’t feel soft, either, more like moderately cushioned. They also don’t feel heavy. Makes me wonder if there is a difference in construction and materials between the men’s and women’s models (I wear the women’s 7.5).

    I wear them trail running pretty frequently and I’ve worn them a few times on pavement and in grass at a park. I wore them for a half marathon that was a mix of dirt road and trail and my feet felt really good throughout the race. I also like them for short hikes.

    They fit me great in the toe box. I find them a bit hard to get snug in the heel, because the foot opening is a lot bigger than in some shoes. The one thing that I don’t like about them is how narrow the outsole is under the arch of the foot. I pronate quite a bit and I run on pretty rocky trails, so sometimes I’m contacting rocks with the midsole (the yellow part in your photos, it’s pink on my shoes) and that feels uncomfortable.

  3. I tried on the Merrell All Out Rush and had the “pucker” problem but much worse than Pete did. Because of this issue I didn’t run in the shoes. If you have what the ski boot industry calls a “low volume foot” this shoe might not work for you. My foot is normal width but is thin in the vertical direction. I’ve had the pucker problem with other shoes as well.

  4. This shoe is a perfect example of YMMV. I love this shoe. I’m a bigger runner, but feel that the cushioning hits a sweet spot for trail running. These shoes are more cushioned than my Inov 8 TrailRocs, and the lugs are great for muddy conditions. In fact, I frequently chose to in these rather than my Pearl Izumi trail N2s because of the comfortable level of cushioning in the All Out Rush.

  5. Anton Franchi says:

    I have tried various brands ( NB, Salomons, Brooks) and the Allout range is best suited for me. ( High Arch with wide feet) I have been running with the Allout Rush for 3 months and my only issue is I have “senstive feet so after about 20k I get “stud” pressure from the round lugs. Cant wait to try the new Allout Charge though

  6. I had high hopes for these shoes but my foot is narrow – or low volume – and I could not tighten the shoe enough b/c of the extra space that the lace straps created. So that made them pretty useless for technical trails. They would have been great without those straps. I returned them.

    • Flaco,

      Have you tried lacing a different way? Although I don’t have this shoe, I have the mixmaster glides, which traditionally laced are a little too roomy for my low volume shoe. Instead I lace them as shown in the narrow foot illustration.

      link to katierunsthis.com

    • Flaco, I had the same lacing issue on the original trail glove. The lacing straps can be cut out, then run the laces through the wider holes where the straps were. Basically gives you the lacing like on the bare access (which I love).

  7. I’ve tried these and the All Out Rush on in the store and on both I can’t get past how heavy the sole feels and how sloppy they feel on my feet – which scares me in combination with that hard sole toe bumper and overwrap that looks like it’s just waiting to bruise my toes.

  8. I also have this shoe and it is really great for trekking and hiking. I also agree about other people’s sentiments that its sole it a bit on the heavy side. Besides that, everything is good because it gives me great ankle support.

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