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Merrell Agility Peak 5 Review: ‘Dune’ Mod Adds City Style to Plush Ultrarunning Shoe

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The team at Huckberry knows a thing or two about making outdoor lifestyle gear look stylish. Huckberry’s recipe is to draw inspiration from the product’s theme or special characteristics and reboot it in new color schemes or branding that makes the item rare, unique, and appropriate for off-trail fits.

The e-retailer’s curated “Trail Shop” has products from core brands like Norda and District Vision, and options from mainstream running labels like HOKA and On. The Trail Shop’s theme is great-looking gear for style-conscious men who want more out of their equipment than just performance; it must look good in the city, too.

This month, Merrell joins Huckberry’s curated selection with a reimagining of its fantastic trail running shoe, the Agility Peak 5. With inspiration from the American West (and perhaps a nod to the sci-fi sensation), Huckberry reveals the “Dune” color option.

I already had a pair of the Agility Peak 5 in testing, but when I received a pair of the special-edition Dune aesthetic, I instantly appreciated the added style on a shoe that my feet loved for trail miles. Needless to say, I was eager to put them to the test, on trail and off.

In short: The Merrell Agility Peak 5 has serious ultrarunning cred: max cushioning with FloatPro midsole, a Vibram Megagrip outsole, and foot protection features, all at an affordable price. With a special Huckberry treatment, the Agility Peak 5 becomes as at home in the mountains as it does in the city.

Whatever your style, check out GearJunkie’s Best Trail Running Shoes to find your perfect pair.

  • Materials
    Breathable mesh/TPU upper, Vibram MegaGrip outsole with traction lugs, FloatPro Foam Midsole, Rock Plate
  • Midsole height
    31mm heel to 25mm toe
  • Midsole drop
    6mm
  • Lug height
    5mm
  • Weight
    10.58 oz. (men’s size 9)
  • Price
    $140
  • Limited Huckberry color scheme available
    May 17, 2024

  • Inviting, cushy, bouncy midsole material

  • Chunky 5mm Vibram Megagrip lugs are grippy and sticky

  • Rock plate, toecap, and gaiter attachments

  • All-day comfort doubles as excellent hiking shoe for non-runners

  • Competitively priced


  • Tad heavy for performance-driven trail runners

  • Stack height and cushiness may present an unstable ride for runners used to more ground feel

Merrell Agility Peak 5 Review: Huckberry ‘Dune’ Style

Merrell is on a heater. The brand traditionally known for hiking and casual outdoors footwear went into trail running performance in a big way when it launched Merrell Test Lab (MTL).

This special unit within the company’s Michigan headquarters works closely with Merrell’s global pro athlete team to design specialty shoes like the skyrunning-inspired MTL Skyfire 2, a sub-7-ounce racing shoe that looks and runs more like a track spike with lugs.

Granted, the MTL Skyfire 2 is a very specific shoe; it’s not for ultrarunning, and it might be too specific for most runners. Fortunately, there is another outstanding option for longer distances and more varied surfaces with the Agility Peak 5. Although it’s less technical, the Agility Peak 5 carries with it the same specific design cues that make MTL shoes so intriguing.

Overview

More runners will benefit from the Agility Peak 5 than the MTL Skyfire 2, as its applications are extremely varied.

You have a shoe with 5mm Vibram Megagrip lugs — the type of traction designed for rugged and steep climbs and descents. So, it might seem odd to learn that the shoe doesn’t sacrifice much on the roads or easy dirt surfaces despite the depth and traction capability.

Think of it as an added bonus when you’re really pushing the shoe in the mountains. Otherwise, it stays idle in the background, adding more surface area but not being overly sticky when not needed.

There is a slightly rockered shape to the shoe that helps you roll through the stride on your midfoot to toe. The shoe’s standout feature is its proprietary midsole. The foam is a perfect blend of cushion and rebound that Merrell calls “FloatPro.”

This foam technology is not new for the Agility Peak 5 but it does use the most amount of it in any Merrell shoe to date and the result is just super-enjoyable to your legs.

As I tested the shoe repeatedly on my door-to-trail go-to route, the FloatPro foam proved to be one of the most inviting midsoles from any of the shoes I put in common rotation (including The North Face Vectiv Pro 2’s “Dream” midsole and the adidas Agravic Speed Ultra’s “Lightstrike Pro” midsole).

The difference between the Agility Peak 5 and those other shoes is that it doesn’t have a carbon plate, rods, or nitrogen infusion. The fact is that Merrell can accomplish with a less “sophisticated” midsole the same enjoyment and adequate energy return that I get from those $200+ supershoes is a testament to Merrell’s dedication to the sport.

Finishing Touches, Who It’s For

It’s obvious that from a price and performance standpoint, the Agility Peak 5 looks to compete with stalwart shoes like the Brooks Cascadia and now, with its own Vibram Megagrip outsole, the Altra Timp 5. It shares other features with those shoes as well: gaiter attachments, a rock plate, and a beefy toecap.

But, the one feature those shoes don’t have is the Agility Peak 5’s unique external rear sling lock. This is a very useful addition that addresses what many trail runners (like myself) complained about in the Agility Peak 4 — namely, a somewhat sloppy fit in the heel, lacking support and hold.

When you slip the Agility Peak 5 over your foot, you can pull back the sling lock as you seat your heel, letting it rest and settle before securing your foot with the laces.

With perforations all over the upper, air can escape the lightweight mesh design, but there are strategic TPU overlays in the common abrasion zones and around the shoelace eyelets.

As notched laces become more and more common (these are what Nike uses in the AlphaFly 3 Proto), I was pleased to find the more traditional thin, “rope” style laces on the Agility Peak 5 over the super-comfy gusseted tongue. If you’ve ever sat on the ground furiously trying to unknot notched laces after a run, you’ll empathize.

Conclusions: Color Matters

The Huckberry “Dune” version joins an already whopping nine colors offered by Merrell; some, like the white with pink accents version I’ve been testing, already stand out with their pink, white, and orange color-blocked sections and large branding hit.

And have I mentioned yet that the shoe is only $140 (this includes the special Huckberry color scheme)?

The Agility Peak 5 packs a lot of tech features. The Vibram Megagrip outsole alone is usually not found on shoes that are less than $150, but with the super-cushy and stable ride that can handle any and all trail running, you’re getting a very solid shoe that is more fun to run in than most others for the price.

When Huckberry got a hold of it, there is even more value added to the Agility Peak 5 with its urban-approved, high style option that will work from the trail to the town.



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