The Merrell Pilipinas Trail Running Camp last May 6-7 at Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo Rizal has taught me a lot about the ins and outs of trail running and was introduced to its sponsor’s newest trail weaponry- the Merrell Agility Peak Flex. Quite an odd name for a running shoe as its one word too long. But there is a valid reason why the infamous outdoor brand named it as such.
You see the name Agility Peak Flex captures the essence of the shoe- it’s fast, has a great grip and very versatile in any terrain. In this article, I’ll share my experience with running with this trail shoe together with its pros and cons.
Merrell Agility Peak Flex Specs
Merrell is best known for their hiking shoes and other outdoor equipment. In the trail running department, they have shoes for every running style- cushioned, minimalist and barefoot. The Agility Peak Flex is in the cushioned category with its less aggressive pal- the Agility Flex Charge. Currently, the Merrell Agility Peak Flex is priced at PhP 4,995.
Here is a quick summary of the Agility Peak Flex specifications:
Weight: 315 grams/ 11 oz (per 1/2 pair)
Heel Offset: 6 mm
Upper: fabric, mesh and Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)
Mid-sole: FLEXconnect™ EVA dual-directional flex-groove EVA
Out-sole: M Select™ GRIP+ outsole with skeleton-inspired lugs
Colors: Dark Olive, Black, Wild Dove, Beluga-Olive, Merrell Orange
Test Running the Merrell Agility Peak Flex
The first time I ever tried the Agility Peak Flex was during the trail running session of the Merrell Pilipinas Trail Running Camp. It was a 10-km or so route from Basekamp in Pintong Bukawe leading to Casile Road and back. The route starts off with a short road segment before plunging downhill towards a river crossing and going out to the fire roads of Casili. From there, its a 4-km or so uphill (with short rolling segments) back to Basekamp.
Since that time, I run with the Agility Peak Flex during the weekends and almost on the same route. In a couple of occasions, I have to enter some small trails to extend the mileage by a bit. The area has a variety of terrains from shallow rivers, dirt roads, grassy trails and rocky slopes. Overall, the route is excellent for hill repeats and downhill running.
Merrell Agility Peak Flex Performance During the Run
When I put on the Merrell Agility Peak Flex, I noticed that it fits perfectly well with my feet. I love how the shoe’s tongue is made of thin, soft material that wraps around the foot comfortably. The mesh is quite breathable and has an overall good lock in thanks to its Omni-Fit lacing system.
When I started running on the asphalt road, I can clearly tell that the shoe has a very proficient heel cushioning that absorbs my foot strike quite well. It has a decent stability as one would expect from a neutral trail runner.
Once I hit the dirt roads and grassy terrain, the shoe unveiled its true character. The 5mm lugs provided ample of grip especially when your hitting downhill. I also love how Merrell’s Flex Connect technology, where they add some grooves on top of the midsole, allows my feet to easily flex whether upward or downward. Thus, giving any trail runner a more natural movement on most terrain.
The shoe also live up to its “Agility” name because it helps you in making sharp turns and quick descents. However, there are portions of the trail where I feel the shoe wasn’t giving me enough stability because of its stiffness. On my later runs, I found out that the discomfort I felt was because of a TPU covering in the midsole that buckles inwards and causes a pressure point.
On uphills, the shoes are quite reliable and give you a nice kickoff and balance. The heel lock down was also helpful when tackling uneven and technical terrains. It easily conquered the trail’s most difficult parts and was able to fend off impact from some of the sharp rocks along the river crossing. At the end of every run, I felt minimal to negligible pains in my foot, which is a big plus considering I need to run longer distances on the next few weeks.
Here are the pros and cons of the Merrell Agility Peak Flex based on my weekend runs:
- High marks on balance and cushioning
- Very agile especially on turns and uneven terrain
- Good cushioning system that makes you run longer
- Fits perfectly and has a good foot splay
- Very competitive price point
- Terrain specific; best for muddy terrain
- Minor irritation from midsole’s rubber triangle covering
The Merrell Agility Peak Flex has not been getting the publicity that I think it deserves. It’s easily one of the most competitive shoe out there that can keep up with the demands of the trails here in our country. I highly recommend it to climbers who have grown to love Merrell’s products and wants to discover the world of trail running.
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