In a hurry? Here's the Merrell Agility Peak 4 review in a sentence: If you want protection and support without totally losing the 'feel' of the trail, these are a sterling option.
Merrell Agility Peak 4 builds on a lineage of popular trail running shoes and has been updated to meet the needs called out for by runners and reviews of the previous generation. And by and large, it pulls it off. That's the value of constructive criticism!
The best trail running shoes require support in the sole for those stoney trails but also need to offer tactile feedback. Looking at the deep soles on these shoes, it was fair to have concerns in this area. Also, previous generations proved to have some wear and tear issues. Peak 4 needed to be tough while still offering comfort – not an easy combination to achieve.
The good news is Merrell has managed to bring the latest Agility Peak model into a class worthy of the brand. That is thanks to a new midsole, new tongue and a grippier sole which balances support, protection and grip very well. And while it's built for trail running, it also makes it into our ranking of the best men's walking shoes and the best waterproof running shoes.
Merrell Agility Peak 4 review – Tech
The Merrell Agility Peak 4 uses a jacquard upper integrated lacing system which means a wider pull for a more precise envelopment of the foot – the result of which is enhanced feedback, and the shoe holds tight to the foot.
This is welcome since that sole is now grippier than ever and thicker, thanks to the Vibram MegaGrip base. This is ideal for anyone that runs on stoney, rocky, rough trails where thick cushioning is needed. That said, it could be a little too numbing for some runners that prefer to feel the terrain as they go.
So while this is built for longer trail runs, with the aim to maintain comfort throughout, it also offers a lightweight foam. That's not to say this is the lightest shoe, but the new FloatPro midsole is lighter than the last model yet offers impressive levels of midsole support, meaning far less pressure underfoot.
Merrell Agility Peak 4 review – Ergonomics
The heel on the Merrell Agility Peak 4 has a 6mm drop which is smaller than the usual 7mm. This initially leaves you with a feeling that your heel might not be supported enough. But take them out, and you'll notice Merrell has used this to offer rigid under-heel support, ideal for cross slopes, yet it's not stiff with an ideal front roll in this shoe.
The new cushioning might be lighter in the FloatPro mid-sole, but that FlexConnect dual-directional flex grooves in the midsole rock plate certainly do enhance ground connection and foot feedback. Spacing at the foot entrance is minimal, which means getting your foot in, even with that heel grip, can require a bit of wiggle work. Once in, though, the fit can be perfect when you use that lacing system.
Merrell Agility Peak 4 review – Design
The look of the Merrell Agility Peak 4 is immediately one that stands out. In the model, we got the colour scheme of "Tahoe", which is blue with orange accents, which really stands out. The great thing here is those colours still look good, or even better, with the muting from the muck of the trail. Start bright so they can stay visible even when dusty, right?
The sole does appear a little on the thick side when looking at the shoe from the side, but the colour integration with that mesh-like upper makes for a smooth transition. That Jacquard upper integrated lacing system does give these shoes a stand-out look. Some say this can add weight and be a negative, but in this case, they are minimal and light while actually looking good and functionally offering the best fit.
Merrell Agility Peak 4 review – Verdict
The Merrell Agility Peak 4 is a shoe built for the tougher trails and those longer runs. With stacks of absorption, without numbing foot-feel too much, this strikes a fantastic balance between response and protection.
The heel might be lower than some, but Merrell has made that work for the shoe with a superb roll. It also combines well with the responsive midsole to give a sturdy build that can be taken anywhere, even on steeper slopes, without discomfort.
The design options might be minimal, with three basic colours, but they all look decent, and the finish is great both for the trail and for roads too. The higher cushioning of the sole might be too much for some runners but for anyone that wants ultimate longer-term comfort, this is a shoe that delivers very well indeed.
Make sure you browse our Merrell discount codes to save on your new footwear.
Recommended for: rough terrain trail runners
Merrell Agility Peak 4 review: also consider
The Hoka One One Challenger ATR 5 GTX (retailer link) is a waterproof, comfortable and durable trail running shoe, the ideal choice for runners who appreciate functionality over looks. Not saying the Challenger ATR 5 GTX is an ugly shoe, but its main appeal is not aesthetics for sure, it will more likely win you over with just how great it feels to run in it. Guaranteed.
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail (retailer link) is for runners who don't like to be defined as 'road' or 'trail' runners, providing a decent running experience on both pavement and forest trails alike. It might not outperform the best road/trail running shoes, but for runners who often mix up their style, this is probably Nike's best value-for-money shoes to get. Read our full Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Trail review here.