Merrell Agility Peak 4 Performance Review
TAYLOR: As the snow falls (I wrote this back in the winter), I can’t help but stare across town to the peaks that are getting the most fluffy white powder. Our winter hasn’t been as wonderland-y as we expect in the Northern Colorado Rockies.
Thankfully, the Merrell Agility Peak 4 was dropped at my front door. Getting to the top of those peaks on foot is always more motivating for me. That’s precisely what these shoes are made for. When the going is long and technical, the Agility Peak says, “Pick me! Pick me!” Does its ability match its exuberance?
MATT: Twelve months ago, I would not be so excited to receive a package from Merrell. Now, it’s all I could ever want at my door. The Agility Peak 4 only fueled my newfound passion for the brand.
After Merrell hit homerun after homerun with their 2020 offerings (Skyfire and Long Sky) I have the brand on my shortlist for 2021.
TAYLOR: I feel it appropriate to pop the bubbly in honor of Merrell. We’ve received four models of trail shoes from the brand recently and they’re batting 1.000. The Agility Peak 4 is well prepared for going long distances over rough terrain. You’ll find it to be a little heavier (11.6 ounces for a Men’s 10.5), moderately stable, and more fortified than their recent MTL Long Sky.
The Agility Peak has a lot going on to give a secure and comfortable fit. First, a thin booty-like integrated tongue wraps the foot completely. A fortified mesh upper lays over top of the tongue creating a second “wrap” of the foot. Lastly, the laces weave through a system of four pulleys that lay across the foot. So not only does tightening the laces pull the upper tight from the sides, the loops add more security from the topside to hold your foot in place. Put it all together and your foot is more secure than a shy joey in its mother’s pouch.
As for shape, it feels most similar to a Salomon Sense Ride. Personally, that’s a great thing. They offer a snug fit with a more generous toe box than most other technical trail shoes on the market.
Underneath needs a whole lot less explanation: Vibram MegaGrip + Deep multidirectional chevron lugs = Optimal grip for any surface.
I have yet to find terrain that these shoes didn’t conquer. The 5 mm lugs dominated snow, mud, and off-trail sections. As MegaGrip does, I felt perfectly comfortable on dry and wet rocks, roots, and any trail segment. Durability shouldn’t even be a question – you’ll get your 300-500 miles out of these for sure.
FlexConnect dual-directional grooves break up the hefty outsole to add a bit of mobility to the package. I really appreciated this when the route demands stepping on rocks, roots, and the like. The grooves helped the shoe adjust appropriately rather than be a 2×4 underfoot.
Equally as protective was the FloatPro midsole. This foam is firm and moderately thick. Adding a rock plate to the equation makes the Agility Peak 4 one of the more protective options out there without a massive stack height. I dont’t always love this formula, but it certainly works in this case.
MATT: Out of the box the Agility Peak 4 is a head-turner. With its bold contrasting colors and aggressive look, I fielded a number of comments about the shoe from interested runners before even logging a mile.
A couple of days of soaking rain combined with mountain bikers shredding the local singletrack resulted in some sloppy conditions. The Agility Peak 4 shined right away.
The shoe has a snug and comfortable fit, with plenty of room in the toe box, and the liner features a sock-like booty system that extends through the tongue, creating a snug and secure fit. Throughout my runs, I felt locked in despite the muddy conditions.
The Vibram MegaGrip outsole combined with aggressive multi-directional lugs really make this shoe one of the best all-conditions runners I’ve tested. Through multiple stream crossings, up and down muddy single track, and rock hopping, not a single faulty step.
Also, as I found out first hand, the rock plate and toe protection in the Agility Peak 4 is top-notch. It’s one of those features you don’t think about until you’re Googling toenail removal techniques after a mishap. In this shoe, I punted the biggest root I could find and came out unscathed.
Durability and ruggedness should be no issues either. You will get your money’s worth out of these.Shop Agility Peak 4 – Men Shop Agility Peak 4 – Women
TAYLOR: By now it should be pretty well spelled out what this shoe is good for – the rough and tumble.
We’ve all had one of those friends who just couldn’t tone it down enough to play any sort of civilized games. That friend is kind of like the Agility Peak 4. Pavement and even smooth gravel road sections are not in this shoe’s wheelhouse. There’s no domesticating these things. With many trail shoe options being able to handle a wide range of terrain, it’s a drawback worth noting.
The biggest issue I had with the Agility Peak 4 was the heel cup. With the mid and forefoot being about as secure as comfortably possible, the heel had some issues keeping up. On steeper uphills – which happen to be included in my everyday runs – my heel would slip. Slip. Slip. Slip. Slip. Slip. And you know what they say about slipping, right? It’s about as annoying as a hormonal bullfrog during a full moon. Okay, nobody says that. But that’s about how I felt.
MATT: There were a few things I didn’t love about the shoe. The FloatPro midsole provides a stable and secure ride but sometimes feels too stiff. While I didn’t expect a lot of bounce, on some stretches the shoe just felt flat. This would concern me more knowing that it’s built for long distances, and I could feel my legs taking a pounding towards the tail end of my longer efforts.
Coming back to the long-distance distinction. I would be very hesitant to race long course with mixed terrain. Any stretches of pavement, gravel road or towpath/rail trail would be pretty uncomfortable. The few stretches that I experienced gave me flashbacks to running down the sidewalk in baseball cleats en route to practice. The aggressive lugs and outsole just are not made for anything remotely urban.Shop Agility Peak 4 – Men Shop Agility Peak 4 – Women
TAYLOR: I’m torn. So, so torn. I really like this shoe, everything about it feels really darn good. The Merrell Agility Peak 4 does a great job of moving through technical terrain with ease. It offers a lot of protection and a very secure fit. But consistent heel slippage on steep land is a large drawback. It’s not a death sentence for the shoe but might limit how far I choose to take the Agility Peak 4.
MATT: There is a lot to like about the Merrell Agility Peak 4. While the shoe has its flaws, I think it’s a case of using a tool for what it was designed to do. For the Agility Peak 4, that’s shredding gnarly terrain and making you feel like the king/queen of the mountains.
You can pick up the Merrell Agility Peak 4 for $130 by using the shop links below.Shop Agility Peak 4 – Men Shop Agility Peak 4 – Women
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