Merrel is a brand that has an impressive track record when it comes to ticking a lot of boxes for trail runners and the Merrell Agility Peak 4 is no exception.
It's a shoe that's built to deliver across a range of different trails, whether that's long, soft forest paths or more technical mountain terrain where you want grip and protection.
To achieve that, the Merrell Agility Peak 4 combines an updated FloatPro midsole foam and a new Vibram Megagrip outsole.
We've spent the past few weeks putting the Merrell Agility Peak 4 through its paces to see where it sits in your trail shoe collection.
Price: ¬£120 | Weight: Men 303g/10.7oz (Men) | Type: Trail | Stability: Neutral | Heel to toe drop: 6mm | Sizing: True to size | Alternatives: Hoka One One Speedgoat 4, Inov-8 Parkclaw 275, Brooks Cascadia 15
The Merrell Agility Peak 4 is, in many ways, an all-rounder. At first glance, that big wedge of FloatPro foam cushioning makes it look like a shoe designed for comfort over high mileage. But, on closer inspection, there's a lot more happening in this eye-catching little number.
Covering that midsole material is a healthy covering of Vibram MegaGrip designed to offer a high level of grip of technical terrain, whilst being durable enough to keep the rest of the shoe, and your feet, protected.
The laces have a jacquard upper integrated lacing system that aims to provide a secure, locked-down fit. This technology takes the form of separate fabric loops that connect further down the midfoot.
The upper is made from a fairly thick material that's reinforced at points across the shoe, specifically around the heel and midfoot section. These areas, including the collar, also have additional cushioning for comfort.
There's also a rock plate that sits in the midsole to protect against sharp objects on the trails, along with something Merrell calls FLEXconnect dual-directional flex-grooves ‚Äď essentially thinner grooves along the outsole that stop the forefoot from being too rigid.
Other features include a protective toe cap, an external rear heel strap and a removable EVA insole.
The Merrell Agility Peak 4 is a Jack of all trades when it comes to the trails. It's a shoe that has a lot going for it but doesn't really excel in any specific area. Something that is in no way a bad thing at all, especially if you're looking for a workhorse shoe that'll have your back on a wide range of trails.
The FloatPro midsole may look like a lot of cushioning at first glance, but, when compared to something like the Merrell Rubato, it's a much harder ride in practice. That's not to say the cushioning isn't there, it's just a lot more subtle than you might expect, taking the impact of the run without feeling soft or spongy.
The interesting thing about the Agility Peak 4 is that the cushioning is largely focused on the heel section of the shoe, with the forefoot feeling noticeably leaner ‚Äď a welcome feature for trail runners that like to feel the ground but still want a good level of cushioning. In addition, that more responsive forefoot is due to the FLEXconnect design that allows a greater level of flexibility and movement.
The sturdy Vibram MegaGrip outsole ‚Äď twinned with the rock plate ‚Äď does a great job at handling varied terrains. The grip is competent on wet surfaces while the thick build offers a good level of protection without losing comfort and flexibility. The lugs can handle muddy ground to a point, but if you're hitting some serious cross country, you may want to look at deeper options.
When it comes to hard surfaces, whether that's rocky trails or if you're hitting road sections of a trail, the level of cushioning does a good job at offering comfort over shorter distances. We would say that the shoe is best suited to varied shorter distance trail running and not long-distance efforts where your focus is cushioning and comfort.
The Merrell Agility Peak 4 is a great all-rounder trail option that does a bit of everything, from technical terrain to comfort over shorter distances. There's a good level of cushioning and an impressive grip that delivers on a range of surfaces. If your aim is a versatile shoe for shorter trail runs it has a lot going for it.