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Trail Running Shoes • July 27, 2023

Merrell Agility Peak 5 Review: Serious Flex Appeal

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What You Need To Know


10.6 oz. (299 g) for a US M9,

8.3 z. (235 g) for a US W7

Stack Height / Drop

31 mm in heel, 26 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)

Best For

Technical assaults on just about any terrain

Key Features

Floatpro midsole, Vibram Megagrip outsole, lightweight mesh upper, gusseted tongue

On The Run
Excellent traction Refined Floatpro cushioning Not the best heel support


TAYLOR: Believe it or not, Merrell currently sits around the top of my favorites list. It’s a bold statement in a day and age with huge amounts of innovation and variety on the trail running scene. One of the reasons I’ve grown to love this brand is because it’s a very conscious outdoor brand for both consumers and environmental sustainability.

Because of its keen ear to consumers, Merrell and its Test Lab squad have drastically upped their game as serious contenders in the trail running space. Yes, they surprised us a few years ago. By now, we’ve come to expect a lot out of everything they produce. A few prime examples are the MTL Long Sky 2, MTL Skyfire 2, and Moab Flight. If that’s not an incredible lineup already, wait until you see what Merrell has cooking for the future.

Of the shoes I can talk about, I can confidently say there’s another one that will be worth noting in conversations about Merrell shoes — and any other brand in the space, for that matter. Say hello to the Merrell Agility Peak 5.

Matt and I took out the previous iteration (Merrell Agility Peak 4) for review a couple of years back, and our conclusion was that it was a shoe that would be good for fairly specific terrain as it had high scores for grip and protection for technical terrain but lacked versatility and overall fit. It was our first experience with an “underwhelming” Merrell trail shoe.

As for the Agility Peak 5, it aims at all areas that were lackluster to us and seeks to improve its strengths. Updates include a brand-new mesh upper, updated Floatpro midsole foams, and an adjusted outsole. The result? Well, it’s stepping into a realm that it wasn’t in previously — one that can rightfully rub toe bumpers with the likes of the Hoka Speedgoat 5, Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3, Saucony Xodus Ultra 2, and more.

What we like about the Merrell Agility Peak 5

TAYLOR: Straight out of the box, I could tell this wasn’t one of those “rub some Turtle Wax on it and call it a new shoe” type of updates. Everything about the Merrell Agility Peak 5 now demands, “Take me to the trails!”

I usually don’t kick things off with my overall impressions but, to give context, the Agility Peak 5 will easily be a contender for some do-it-all type of trail runners. IMO, the Agility Peak 5 could be a favorite for many.
On foot, the new Agility Peak 5 feels lighter than its predecessor, even though it’s only marginally lighter on the scale. My US M10.5 came in at 11.3 oz. which is a third of an ounce less than the Agility Peak 4. What makes it feel so much lighter is how nicely all of the new materials come together to create a more cohesive and versatile package.

The upper is fairly similar to the previous model too. It’s an engineered mesh that is a bit lighter and slightly more airy than it was. The neoprene-like fully gusseted tongue allows for some extra ventilation, a more secure fit, and light padding. With 360 degrees of adhered TPU overlays, this upper combination has proven to be extremely durable as well. I do not foresee any issues with the upper blowing out or stretching excessively with this shoe. Yes, this is a direct comparison to the Speedgoat 5’s shortcomings. Just know that you won’t want to toss this shoe to the wayside after 50 miles.

Another reason for a lighter and more nimble feel is the new recipe of Floatpro midsole foam. We’ve seen a similar foam in the Merrell Moab Flight, Merrell Skyfire 2, and Merrell Long Sky 2. This formula is the best Floatpro yet and falls into the medium-density range. If I had to swing the pendulum, it would lean slightly toward the softer end. Personally, this is one of my favorite feeling foams available from any trail running shoe.

There is a solid amount of protection because of the 31/25 mm stack height (6mm drop), a little bit of ground feel, and the essence of being responsive. Honestly, it’s nothing too fancy, but it really nails trail performance that felt consistent through the miles I put on the Agility Peak 5. I’d happily compare it to the Altra Mont Blanc, Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3, Merrell Long Sky 2, and even the Norda 001.

Even though this is a neutral shoe, the shaping of the midsole and outsole make it an appropriately stable shoe for the trails. Put simply, the Agility Peak 5 is an easy shoe to feel confident in.

Vibram Megagrip takes residence on the underside. Megagrip rubber is designed specifically to cross over between wet and dry conditions really well. Usually, that’s all one would need to know. However, the outsole design deserves a major shout-out.

With a combination of deep chevron-style lugs around the rim of the foot and x-shaped ones through the midfoot and inner heel, the Agility Peak 5 can go through and over anything you throw at it — singletrack or off trail, it doesn’t matter. Deep mud or dry sand, no problem. Tacky or wet rock, it’s all good. Besides one other outsole design that I’ve experienced (coming in the near future from the same brand), the Merrell Agility Peak 5 can take the award of the best overall outsole in the game.

As per usual, a D-ring and velcro gaiter attachment is available. This is certainly a shoe that I would take to such terrain that you might actually need a gaiter.

Another typical component of Merrell shoes is its commitment to using as many recycled/ sustainable products as possible. The Agility Peak 5 contains recycled laces, lace webbing, and a recycled footbed. It seems small, but in our current world, these types of design measures need to be given appreciation (especially when they do not sacrifice performance at all).

Keep in mind that all of this can be had at a price of $140. It’s crazy to me that this is a price we’re excited to see, but that’s the market these days. It makes shopping a bit easier, though. That price is not one to think twice about. Most shoes in this same category and performance tier are at least $20 more.

Shop Merrell Agility Peak 5 - Men Shop Merrell Agility Peak 5 - Women

What we don’t like about the Merrell Agility Peak 5

TAYLOR: Honestly, there isn’t much to complain about here except for a few small fit issues. The Merrell Agility Peak 5 is designed to be a bit more accommodating and, as with many past Merrell offerings, I love that the company’s lasts are always on point. This is also an aspect that will set it apart from others in the same category.

Really, the only aspect of the Merrell Agility Peak 5 that would be lesser than the Speedgoat 5 is the heel construction. It’s in need of reformation. The Agility Peak 4 had the same issue — padding levels and the overall shape of the heel allow for more movement than I like. The heel collar is too broad and doesn’t produce much security. This was especially noticeable on steeper uphills. Because the heel is less of an anchor, the other fit “issues” of the upper were exasperated.

Leading to my next point — the upper on the Agility Peak 5 feels slightly baggy. It’s definitely a materials issue. Even with a gusseted tongue, the extra volume is balanced with other “fit” measures. The midfoot, especially, could not settle in. Those with a low-volume foot may get the sensation that they’re swimming. Those in the average range may find pleasure in the extra room or dislike it altogether. If you happen to have a high-volume midfoot, this might be perfect.

I felt similarly about the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3. Using runner’s loops at the top, cinching the shoe as tight as it would go, and wearing a heftier sock was the only way to get a lockdown I was semi-happy with. The more technical the terrain, the less okay with the fit I became. Excuse me for my mini-tantrum, but technical terrain is where I feel this shoe could really shine.

Shop Merrell Agility Peak 5 - Men Shop Merrell Agility Peak 5 - Women

Merrell Agility Peak 5 Conclusion

TAYLOR: When you’re openly contending with the best of the best in the industry, that’s how I have to approach my review. Such is the case with the Merrell Agility Peak 5. It’s a shoe that’s well on its way to the top. It has some of the best stand-alone components, like a highly versatile midsole, incredible outsole, and durable overall package. If you’re looking for a slightly more voluminous option as compared to the Speedgoat 5, or a more traditional shape as compared to the Topo Athletic MTN Racer 3, this might be your pick.

However, I believe the fit needs some work, especially through the heel. A few minor adjustments will make for major performance gains. If this can happen in future models, the Merrell Agility Peak 5 will be the new standard of trail running.

You can pick up the Merrell Agility Peak 5 for $140 directly from Merrell using the buttons below.

Shop The Shoe


Shop Merrell Agility Peak 5 Men
Shop Merrell Agility Peak 5 Women

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Taylor Bodin
Lead Trail Reviewer
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Taylor Bodin is a trail and ultra runner living in Estes Park, Colo., with his wife and daughters. Trail running is pretty much the only hobby he can manage right now and loves it. Every so often, he will pop off a race or FKT attempt because competition is pure and the original motivator for him getting into running anyways. When not running, Taylor is a 1st grade teacher, running coach (track & field, Cross Country, and Trail/Ultra athletes), and volunteers at his church.

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