With the frequent inclement weather where I live in Colorado, I found myself in need of shoes that would be suitable for road running, as our trails tend to close quite often, forcing me to run on bike paths and roads. The Merrell Morphlite ($100), a road-to-trail shoe, was first on my list to test for a potential hybrid-type shoe.
True to its intended purpose, the Merrell Morphlite is light shoe with a comfortable upper and midsole that performs admirably on roads and light trails. Also true to that intended purpose, it fell short when hitting more technical trails. This is definitely a road-to-trail shoe and a good one at that.
The Merrell Morphlite also lives up to its name, with a svelte actual weight of 8.6 ounces (243 grams) for a men’s U.S. size 9, a claimed stack height of 26.5 millimeters at the heel and 20 millimeters at the toe, and a 6.5-millimeter drop.
We also appreciate the super reasonable price tag on the Merrell Morphlite, in a market currently overfilled with high price models.
Merrell Morphlite Upper
The Merrell Morphlite boasts a Jacquard upper, engineered with a tighter weave and a built-in bootie construction. This design feature ensures a locked-in fit, providing stability and support, especially on light trails. The key point is “on light trails.” I don’t recommend taking this shoe on technical trails. Merrell advertises this shoe as a road-to-trail shoe, so there is no surprise that it isn’t the shoe you’ll grab if you’re headed to the mountains.
I found the upper to be very comfortable and snug when running on the roads, but when I ventured onto a technical trail, “by accident,” the shoe lacked the locked-in and stable feel of a true best trail running shoe. On sharp turns and rocky sections, my foot felt like it was all over the place. That being said, I was testing it outside of its intended use. In the future, I’ll just stick to roads, gravel, good paths, and smooth singletrack.
One thing to note — the laces. I needed to cinch them down to get a snug fit. They tended to come loose on runs — but not while walking, interestingly. So, the fix for that was simply double knotting them. I could still tuck them into the lace keeper when double-knotted.
Merrell Morphlite Midsole
Equipped with FloatPro Foam, the midsole of the Merrell Morphlite offers exceptional lightweight comfort. This material not only reduces the overall weight of the shoe, but also provides lasting cushioning for extended distances of up to 25 kilometers, as recommended by Merrell.
The lightness of the shoe is truly impressive. Looking at photos, I thought it would be significantly heavier than it is, but it is deceptively light. It turns out road and hybrid shoes just don’t need all those heavy lugs that true trail shoes do.
The medium cushioning strikes a balance between responsiveness and impact absorption, ideal for various terrains encountered when going from road to light trails.
The shoe has a 6.5-millimeter drop, which is a bit steeper than I normally run in — 4 millimeters is my sweet spot — but that didn’t cause any adverse effects to my running or gait. The shoe has a larger foam heel, which does provide some stabilizing qualities, while not being overly corrective.
Merrell Morphlite Outsole
The Merrell Morphlite features a sticky rubber outsole, ensuring durable traction on different surfaces. The 3-millimeter lug depth provides adequate grip without being overly aggressive, making it suitable for light trail running. You’ll notice a lot of exposed midsole there, too. Again, it’s a road-to-trail shoe, so it also performs well on paved roads where traction isn’t quite as big of a deal.
The outsole’s design and material composition offer reliable traction where and when it’s needed, providing confidence and stability during runs. The outsole on this shoe was a perfect solution to the reason that I wasn’t wearing my trail shoes on roads — it destroys the lugs and shortens the life of those shoes. The outsole held up well on the roads and bike paths in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the lugs are still in good shape after a month and a half of running and walking in them.
Merrell Morphlite Overall Impressions
The Merrell Morphlite is a lightweight and versatile shoe designed for light trail use and road running. Its Jacquard upper construction provides a snug and comfortable fit for its intended use. For me, this shoe is a great winter trainer. I tend to run a lot more miles on the roads, as the snow and mud in Colorado tends to interfere with consistent trail running.
The FloatPro Foam midsole delivers lasting comfort without compromising on responsiveness, while the sticky rubber outsole offers durable traction on various surfaces. This shoe is a solid choice for runners seeking a blend of lightweight comfort and light trail capabilities. We are stoked on its reasonable price point as well. I recommend this shoe as a winter training shoe, a shoe for folks dabbling in light trail running, or even just as a casual shoe.
Call for Comments
- Have you tried the Merrell Morphlite? What were your thoughts?
- How does this shoe compare to other hybrid shoes?
- What other shoes would you recommend for road-to-trail use?
[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]
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