Spring 2014 Running Shoe Buyer’s Guide

Photo: Scott Draper | Competitor

Merrell All-Out Fuse, $110

8.0 oz. (men’s); 6.5 oz. (women’s)

18mm (heel), 12mm (forefoot)

Fit: Narrow-fitting and snug in the heel and midfoot, this shoe widens out considerably in the forefoot and toe box.

Feel: Although not quite a “barely there” shoe, it’s pretty low to the ground and the scant amount of cushioning feels semi-firm. But those are good things if you want to have dynamic proprioceptive interaction with the ground. It has a moderate heel-toe drop and just enough foam and rubber to offer protection without reducing the feel for the ground very much.

Ride: The ride is somewhat basic and very natural (but not bone-jarring or raw), offering up an infinitely agile sensation in every stride. Combined with the easy flex and no-frills design, it’s a shoe that stays out of the way of your natural foot movements. “I like this shoe for what it’s not,” said one wear-tester. “I can’t wear this kind of shoe all the time, but I really like the proprioceptive aura it gives off.” As with other barely there shoes, the key is having strong feet, lower legs and core strength.

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