Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx Review

An in-depth review of the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx trail running shoe.

By on April 18, 2024 | Comments
Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx

The Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx. All photos: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

With the introduction of the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx ($160), it seems as if the brand’s expansion of its trail shoe collection has gone from zero to 60 miles per hour in no time. I’ve always known Merrell for its expertise in hiking footwear, prioritizing trail stability and ankle support over considerations like shoe weight and responsiveness. Their trail running shoes were geared more toward everyday, casual running and minimalist options like the Merrell Trail Glove. However, Merrell has expanded their approach to trail shoes with this and a number of other high-performance options in its MTL line.

The Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx isn’t your everyday driver kind of shoe. With medium cushioning and stack heights of 23.5 millimeters and 19.5 millimeters in the heel and toe, it strikes a balance between providing cushion and maintaining ground feel. With a 4-millimeter drop and 5-millimeter deep lugs, it offers stability and traction on varied surfaces. A U.S. men’s 9 has an actual weight of 8.5 ounces (241 grams), making it a lightweight and agile shoe. Merrell notes that it is ideal for distances up to 50 kilometers.

With its thoughtful construction and performance-driven features, this shoe offers lightweight durability, responsive cushioning, and exceptional traction on varied terrain.

Shop the Women's Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 MatryxShop the Men's Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx Upper

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx - lateral view

A lateral view of the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx.

The Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx’s upper is made of multi-filament Kevlar threads and high-tenacity polyamide blended into a single layer of material known as Matryx. A number of brands use this innovative upper material, which provides a lightweight feel that is breathable and durable.

This shoe’s Matryx upper provides a snug fit, offering confidence and support with every stride. The upper construction is quite minimal, and the material is so thin you can see through it, but it is tough. The plastic on the toe adds more protection for accidentally stubbed toes and has saved my toenails more than once.

The collar and tongue of the shoe are lined with a much softer, gentler material. I had no issues with rubbing or abrasiveness at all, which is surprising because the shoe is built to handle tough conditions.

The overall fit of the upper impressed me. The snugness of the heel provided security without feeling constricting, and I didn’t experience any slipping. The toebox offered more room than expected, maintaining a comfortable fit without having excess space. The laces, crafted from textured material, remained secure throughout my runs. I appreciated the inclusion of the small band for the lace garage, adding a practical touch to the design.

While the shoe had a little bit of a break-in period, I didn’t have blisters or soreness.

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx Midsole

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx - medial view

A medial view of the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx.

Equipped with FloatPro Foam, the midsole of the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx delivers lightweight comfort that endures over reasonably long distances. Merrell suggests 50k as an upper mileage limit per run, and I’d agree with them on that assessment. Although the FloatPro Foam provides the right level of cushioning to both absorb impact and maintain responsiveness, it feels surprisingly thin. I was able to feel much of what I was running over. Due to the semi-minimal cushioning, I found this shoe doesn’t have much oomph or spring on non-technical trails. Which is to say, it’s a shoe that excels in pretty specific situations: technical trails of medium distances.

While I felt this shoe did have a slight break-in period, I admit it has a little less cushioning and bigger lugs than the shoes I typically run in, so perhaps it was just my old feet that needed some breaking-in.

With its more minimal midsole, the shoe leans toward a neutral feel rather than corrective or supportive. This proved beneficial during technical descents where you must rely on gravity and maneuver around obstacles, and it instilled confidence on challenging trails. Moreover, the midsole isn’t overly stiff, aiding in navigating steep terrain uphill and downhill. The flexibility enhanced its grip, providing a supportive platform for runners seeking comfort and performance on rugged terrain.

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx Outsole

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx - outsole

The outsole of the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx.

The outsole of the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx is what makes this shoe perfect for technical terrain. It is made of Vibram MegaGrip high-performance rubber, renowned for its unparalleled grip that works well on both dry and wet surfaces. With lugs that are 5 millimeters deep, this outsole provides confident traction across various landscapes ranging from rocky to muddy. I ran on wet, dry, and snowy trails during testing, and the shoe performed exceptionally well on all the surfaces.

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx Overall Impressions

Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx - upper

A top view of the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx.

The Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx impresses with its innovative upper crafted from Matryx fabric, offering a lightweight and breathable feel without compromising durability. The snug yet comfortable fit, reinforced by toe protection, and grippy laces enhances confidence on trails. While the shoe required a brief break-in period, it excelled at its intended use — running on very technical trails. Given that Merrell just sponsored the Skyrunner World Series, it’s unsurprising that they’ve created a shoe to perform on that type of terrain.

The FloatPro Foam in the midsole provides lightweight comfort suitable for distances up to 50k, though it may feel thin on nontechnical trails. Despite its minimal cushioning, I found the neutral feel and flexibility of the midsole give confidence on challenging terrain and descents. My feet are more accustomed to a shoe with a slightly more cushioned midsole, so I’d limit my run to three hours or under with this shoe.

I was super impressed with the Vibram Megagrip outsole and grippy lugs that allow the shoe to shine on technical terrain.

Overall, the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx offers reliable performance on rugged trails and is particularly suited for shorter distances and technical terrain. As someone who spends a lot of time running in the mountains, I’d love to see another iteration of this shoe with more cushion.

Shop the Women's Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 MatryxShop the Men's Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx

Call for Comments

  • Have you run in the Merrell MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx? What did you think of it?
  • Do you think Merrell has successfully jumped into the high-performance trail shoes with this and its other MTL offerings?

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Reese Ruland

Reese Ruland enjoys spending her time exhausting herself in the mountains and desert, either on foot or by bike. She is a Pop Tart enthusiast, gear addict, science nerd, and mom to two French bulldogs, Loaf and Oatie. When she’s not out on some big adventure, she enjoys working with athletes on developing a healthy relationship with endurance sports and their bodies.