The Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 is a great running shoe. However, the best running shoes are not necessarily the best choice for CrossFit style workouts. The comfortable and soft midsole that makes running so pleasant also makes lifts more difficult. The soft give in the midsole pushed us up onto our toes when we needed to keep our weight further back in our feet. Rope climbs damaged this shoe by separating the Vibram sole from the midsole. This is a perfect shoe for double unders, plyometrics and runs, but for Olympic lifting days you'll want a more supportive shoe in your gym bag like our Editors' Choice winner, the Nike Metcon 4 - Women's.
Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 - Women's Review
Cons: Rope climbs damage soles, too soft for lifting.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bare Access Arc 4 is a minimalist runner with 0 mm of heel to toe drop. At 5.8 ounces (164 grams) it is one of the lightest shoes in this review. It is available in dark gray, light gray, red, black and green, and has reflective highlights. With a Vibram rubber sole you can even take this shoe on a trail run and feel comfortable about your footing.
This running shoe was not designed with weightlifting in mind. However, with no heel to toe drop you can use them for light lifts. The main limitation to lifting in them is the soft sole. At heavier weights we wanted a firmer sole like that of our Editors' Choice winner, the Nike Metcon 3.
The Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 had one of the highest scores for running in this review. They are light on your feet with a comfortable amount of cushion. As a minimalist running shoe they also perform well on trail runs with just enough protection from sharp rocks.
With the soft sole it is difficult to tell where your body weight is on your feet. Check out our Top Pick for Running WODs, the Reebok Sprint 2.0 - Women's, for a shoe that is just as good for running but has the added benefit of better sensitivity for weightlifting.
The benefits of having a cushioned sole for running create some drawbacks when trying to lift in this shoe. When trying to stand up out of a deep front squat we found our weight shifting too far onto the front of our feet when we needed to be able to stay back on our heels. Comparatively, the Inov-8 F-Lite 195 - Women's scored just as high for running but has a more supportive sole for lifting.
Protection / Durability
Rope climbs are notoriously brutal on shoes that were not designed to handle that kind of wear. We were sad to see damage on these shoes after only 15 rope climbs. The Vibram sole began to separate from the softer foam midsole as there is no protective rubber in that area. A shoe that will definitely not come apart like this is the Nike Metcon 3. It has an indestructible grippy rubber sole that wraps up around the instep of the shoe.
The Merrell Bare Access Are 4 scored in the middle of the pack for breathability during our testing. Although not as breathable as the Inov-8 F-Lite 195, this shoe was still airy enough to keep us comfortable during hot workouts.
Even though they are not great at lifting, our shoe testers absolutely loved these shoes because they are so comfortable. They have great arch support and you can spend all day walking around in them with no problem.
These shoes were built for running and that is what they are best at. Workouts that combine gymnastics movements, jumping and running are perfect for this model.
At a retail value of $95, it is nice to spend less than a hundred dollars on shoes. If you are searching for a shoe primarily for running WODs then this model is great for the money. However, if you want shoes that also work for weightlifting, you might find yourself purchasing an additional pair of shoes. For just a few dollars more you can get our Best Buy winner, the Reebok Nano 2.0 - Women's. The Nano 2.0 is a more versatile option than this shoe.
These minimalist running shoes are comfortable and great on the road. They work well for gymnastic movements and plyometric workouts as well. However, they are not a good choice for lifting workouts and don't fit the bill for an all-around CrossFit shoe.
— Audrey Hammond