Hands-on Gear Review

Merrell Agility Peak Flex - Women's Review

With an amazing fit and great arch support, this highly flexible trail shoe will have you dancing around trail obstacles all day long.
Merrell Agility Flex
By: Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 26, 2017
Price:  $130 List  |  $76.99 at MooseJaw - 41% Off
Pros:  Flexible midsole, medium-squish foam, aggressive outsole, water-wicking capabilities, amazing arch support
Cons:  No rock plate, less stable than top contenders
Manufacturer:   Merrell
70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Foot protection - 25% 7
  • Traction - 25% 7
  • Stability - 15% 6
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 8
  • Weight - 10% 6
  • Sensitivity - 10% 8
  • 1
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  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Our Verdict

The Merrell Agility Peak Flex charges hard on steep switchbacks and buffed out singletrack. Sporting a wonderful balance of performance elements, this shoe is quite versatile over all terrain. Its sticky outsole and fit stand out as the most notable. Featuring aggressive and widely spaced 4 mm lugs, this shoe bites into all sorts of gnarly situations. The Omni-Fit lacing system provides a precise fit while the ample and responsive cushioning made for a smooth ride over technical and non-technical terrain. In addition, this shoe has ample arch support making it one of the best fitting shoes in this review. The name "Agility Peak Flex" stems from the flexibility of the forefoot that makes you quick and agile. Unfortunately, it does not have a rock plate, making it a little less protective than other contenders. If you are in the market for a more protective option (with similar features) be sure to check out the inov-8 Roclite 305 GTX (our Editors' Choice). Overall, the Merrell Agility Peak Flex is a great shoe for any lady looking for ample arch support and a uniquely flexible forefoot. We'd recommend it for after work training sessions or for tackling ultra distances in tough terrain. In addition, we also liked it for day hikes.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

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The Merrell Agility Peak Flex stands out for its outstanding arch support that fits all kinds of feet. We also loved its proficient performance on trail, making it versatile for all uses.

Performance Comparison


The Merrel Agility Peak Flex stands out for its super flexible midsole and unique fit that provides ample arch support. The cushioning is comfortable and responsive with a low profile design.
The Merrel Agility Peak Flex stands out for its super flexible midsole and unique fit that provides ample arch support. The cushioning is comfortable and responsive with a low profile design.

Foot Protection


Earning a seven out of ten in this category, the Agility Flex isn't one of the most protective shoes out there. Lacking a rock plate, this shoe doesn't protect from the sharpest underfoot obstructions. However, the 27 mm of EVA injected foam protects just fine on the most technical terrain. The welded toe cap and impenetrable mesh do a great job on rocky trails full of fine trail debris.

In addition, this shoe wicks well, making it a good option for light rainy days, but not down pours. If you're looking for a runner that offers a bit more in the way of foot protection, be sure to check out the inov-8 Roclite 305 GTX. This Editors' Choice winner offers a water resistant overlay, an integrated rock plate, and a super hard, protective toe cap. The Salomon Speedcross 4 - Women's is another protective option, offering an impenetrable upper to fine particulates.

The impenetrable mesh and welded toe cap are durable and protective for logging many miles.
The impenetrable mesh and welded toe cap are durable and protective for logging many miles.

Traction


With an aggressive outsole integrating 4 mm skeleton-like lugs, this outsole does well on a plethora of surfaces. Scoring a seven out of ten in this category, it sticks well to slippery and steep surfaces. We took it running during the spring and found that it also did well in most mud, with the exception of super sticky clay. While the shoe stuck to most surfaces, it did not shed mud well like the Salomon Speedcross 4 (our Top Pick for Sloppy Surfaces) or the inov-8 Roclite 305 GTX. In addition, on a particularly rainy day, we also learned that the outsole was not super sticky on wet rocks (hardly any shoes performed well in this area). That said, it still performed well over dry and technical terrain.

The skeleton-inspired outsole resembles the tarsals of a human foot! The outsole is bomber  but doesn't do the best at shedding mud.
The skeleton-inspired outsole resembles the tarsals of a human foot! The outsole is bomber, but doesn't do the best at shedding mud.

Stability


With 27 mm of stack in the heel and more narrow toe box than the Altra Lone Peak 3 - Women's, this shoe leaves you feeling like you're riding high. Even though it felt tippy at times, the flexibility of the shoe makes it feel a little more stable than it would if it was more rigid. The EVA injected foam midsole is on the softer end of things, making it super responsive and absorbent. As a result, this shoe earned a six out of ten in this category. If you're looking for a shoe that doesn't have a rock plate but crushes in the stability category, be sure to look into the Salming Element. This option has little foot protection and is super intimate with the trail. Or if you don't want to go that deep in terms of stability, check out last year's Editors' Choice winner, the La Sportiva Bushido - offering great stability and foot protection.

The urethane frame provides a bomber fit and locks in the foot for good lateral stability. It also adds to the durability of the shoe. The orange eyelets provide a more versatile lacing system that adds to the stability of the shoe.
The urethane frame provides a bomber fit and locks in the foot for good lateral stability. It also adds to the durability of the shoe. The orange eyelets provide a more versatile lacing system that adds to the stability of the shoe.

Comfort & Fit



Comfort

Sporting stacked cushion and ample flexibility, this shoe is very comfortable and somewhat breathable. It earned an eight out of ten in this category just for that reason. The only other contenders that beat it out were the HOKA varieties. The new HOKA ONE ONE Challenger 4 fits both wide and narrow feet and has really soft cushioning in comparison. It feels bouncier and cushier even though it only has one mm more of cushioning.

The uppers are thin  breathable  and comfortable.
The uppers are thin, breathable, and comfortable.

Fit

Featuring the best arch support of any shoe in this review we'd have to say this is one of the better fitting shoes out there. The Agility Peak Flex features an Omni-Fit lacing system that provides a "glove-like fit". The toe box is plenty wide to accommodate wide feet with a tight fit throughout the arch. It also features a Hyperlock molded urethane heel that locks your foot in for quick turns and agile moves while the 6 mm heel-toe drop gives it a low-profile feel. In general, we love the fit and comfort this shoe has to offer.

Weight


Weighing in at 10.50 oz, this shoe has a mid-range weight. It also absorbs only 3.6 oz when totally drenched and air dries over a day's time. On trail, we noticed that it did a good job of wicking away water, and when drenched, it dried within tens of minutes. As a result, we'd recommend this shoe for everything in all sorts of conditions. If you're interested in an ultra-lightweight option, check out the Nike Terra Kiger 4 - Women's weighing only 8.55 oz. Or if you're looking for a shoe that absorbs the least amount of water, be sure to look at the New Balance Leadville Trail v3 - Women's.

The Merrell Agility Peak Flex is a mid-weight shoe.
The Merrell Agility Peak Flex is a mid-weight shoe.

Sensitivity


A lack of a rock plate makes this shoe a little more sensitive than other contenders - but in a good way. While the shoe protects from most trail obstructions we liked that we could feel sticks and rocks underfoot. If you're looking for a shoe that's even more sensitive, check out the Salming Elements instead.

Lacking a rock plate  this shoe is super flexible (hence the name). It allows one to pick their way through technical trails.
Lacking a rock plate, this shoe is super flexible (hence the name). It allows one to pick their way through technical trails.

Best Applications


If you're looking for a trail runner that is flexible with great arch support and great all-around versatility, this is it! We loved it for all distances - long and short. Given the shoe's outsole, we'd even recommend it for day hiking and even backpacking. In general, a well-rounded all-purpose trail shoe.

Heather enjoys going cross country in the Merrel Agility Peak Flex. She especially enjoys the great traction and flexibility of the midsole.
Heather enjoys going cross country in the Merrel Agility Peak Flex. She especially enjoys the great traction and flexibility of the midsole.

Value


For $130, we think the price is fair but not the best deal out there. While this is the only trail runner that sports such a flexible sole with great protection, there are other options with better protection and overall comfort. For example, take a gander at our Best Buy award winner, the Saucony Peregrine 7 - Women's for only $120 (and earning higher points). That said, $130 is standard for a good trail shoe these days and there are currently sale prices and deals online that you might find.

Conclusion


The Merrell Agility Peak Flex stands out for its flexible midsole that provides comfort and protection all day long on the trail. It's also one of the only shoes that offers so much in the way of arch support that we might argue it's one of the best fitting shoes in this review. That said, don't take our word for it, try it out yourself!

On approach to a climbing route we test the water-resistance of the Agility Peak Flex. It stood up! A great trail runner and hiker.
On approach to a climbing route we test the water-resistance of the Agility Peak Flex. It stood up! A great trail runner and hiker.

Amber King

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Most recent review: May 26, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
  • 1
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
 (0.0)
Rating Distribution
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5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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