Merrell Antora 3 Review
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Merrell Antora 3
|Price||$124.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Well-tractioned, protective, plush heel collar, affordable||Comfortable, great traction, affordable, durable, packs out to fit your foot shape||Supremely comfortable, spacious toe box, far more durable than previous models, great stability||Light, very protective, excellent mud shed, superior traction, surprisingly stable||Affordable, responsive, beginner-friendly, familiar fit|
|Cons||Heavy, lacks sensitivity||Might be too cushioned for some runners, slightly less sensitive||Zero-drop isn't for everyone, might be too soft for some||Narrow fit, runs small, rigid construction, takes time to break-in||Less aggressive traction, runs slightly narrow|
|Bottom Line||A comfortable yet clunky trail shoe that is great for long runs and hikes when traction and comfort are the keys to success||A great all-around trail shoe that hosts some of our favorite protective features, all for a relatively affordable price||This zero-drop trail runner takes trail running comfort to a whole new and ultra-protective level||Stable and deliciously sticky, this contender is just a crusher all the way around, built for training runs and long distances alike||An affordable shoe that is perfect for novice runners who want to take their trail legs for a spin|
|Rating Categories||Merrell Antora 3||Hoka Torrent 3 - Wo...||Altra Lone Peak 7 -...||Dynafit Feline SL -...||Brooks Divide 3 - W...|
|Foot Protection (25%)|
|Comfort and Fit (15%)|
|Specs||Merrell Antora 3||Hoka Torrent 3 - Wo...||Altra Lone Peak 7 -...||Dynafit Feline SL -...||Brooks Divide 3 - W...|
|Measured Weight (per shoe)||9.28 oz (size 7)||7.48 oz (size 7)||8.22 oz (size 7)||9.45 oz (size 7)||8.04 oz (size 7)|
|Stack Height (Heel, Forefoot)||29 mm - 21 mm||21 mm, 16mm||25 mm, 25 mm||Not disclosed||20 mm, 12 mm|
|Heel-to-Toe Drop||8 mm||5 mm||0 mm||8 mm||8 mm|
|Upper||Mesh, TPU||Mesh||Mesh||Mesh, continuous nylon||Mesh|
|Midsole||Super Rebound Compound||EVA||Altra EGO Foam||Feline SL midsole||EVA|
|Outsole||Vibram TC5+ rubber||Rubber||MaxTrac rubber||Sticky Pomoco Outer||TrailTrack rubber|
|Rock Plate?||Yes||No||Yes||Not disclosed||No|
|Wide Version Available?||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Sizes Available||5 - 11 US||5 - 11 US||5.5 - 12||5 - 11 US||5 - 12 US|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Merrell Antora 3 rides more like your trusty hiking boot than a responsive trail shoe, but it offers plenty of elements to love. From its rugged outsole to its thick heel collar to its 8mm stack, this is a shoe we recommend to those who want something that they can use for both running and hiking.
The Antora 3 scores up with some of the most protective trail shoes in our lineup regarding foot protection. With a 29mm total stack, this is one of the few shoes still being constructed with a rock plate. It has a moderate toe cap that offers both flexibility and protection against rocks. The medial edge of the toe bumper is slightly thicker than the external edge, as if it has been triple-overlayed.
One of the unexpected protective features of the Antora is the thickness of the heel collar. Initially, it feels thick and supportive, but once your feet hit sand or loose dirt, it becomes obvious that the collar is also a protective barrier. Thick and well-curved, it does a great job of preventing sand from slipping in through the top of the shoe. The mesh and TPU upper is well made and configured in such a way as to offer great breathability but protect sand from getting in through the upper as well. The TPU adds extra durability to the forefoot of the shoe, though it doesn't protect super well against water. Because of how thick the Antora is, it doesn't dry the quickest after splashing through puddles. However, even when wet, the materials remain comfortable.
The varied, 4mm lugs that adorn the Vibram outsole of the Antora 3 are super grippy and provide strong traction. The lug pattern is intricate, with rectangular lugs surrounding the entire edge of the outsole. The inner portion of the outsole has forward-facing triangles and arrows, and the back has the same shapes, but they face towards the rear. Since there are lug points facing in all directions, strong traction is achieved whether you want to move forward, backward, or side-to-side. The lugs and outsole are a bit more forgiving than some, but as is often the case with Vibram soles, this bit of bounce makes them ultra-durable. The overall shape of the Antora doesn't make it feel like a great crossover shoe while it is on, but the plush cushion and durable Vibram lugs hold up to the demands of road running life.
This is where the scores of the Antora started to go sideways, though if you want a non-sensitive shoe, you may not agree. The total stack of the Antora is 29mm with an 8mm drop, both of which fall within the average range for trail shoes. The rock plate adds great protection but fully takes away from the trail feel of this otherwise high-scoring shoe. One of the reasons why we recommend the Antora as a shoe that can crossover into hiking is because of this feeling. Hiking shoes and boots tend to offer less sensitivity as a trade for all-day hiking comfort, and the Antora rides like a light version of this. If you aren't looking for a sensitive shoe, the Antora is worth keeping in contention. If you are in the market for a shoe that makes you feel agile, light on your feet, and allows you to feel the nuances of the trail beneath you, we recommend that you keep on looking.
The 8mm drop of the Antora feels stable, even as you carve up technical routes, and the sheer amount of meat in the rear of the shoe provides pretty exceptional stability. There are a few pairs of trail runners in our round-up that outperformed the Antora in this metric, and most of them have a slightly less pronounced heel-to-toe differential. The 8mm drop is almost imperceptible from a stability standpoint here, though, because of how beefy the heel cup is. The thickness of the collar combines with multiple overlays to create a truly stable ride.
Comfort and Fit
If comfort is what you're after, the Antora 3 is nearly universally so. With cushioning in all of the right places, this is a shoe that gently hugs your feet. The body offers a bit more width than some of the best trail shoes on the market and is also offered in a wide version. This shoe isn't constructed to have an extra wide toe box or any other popular style; the beauty of its comfort lies in its simplicity. To us, the Antora felt like a shoe we had always owned from the moment we took it out of the box. Its fit is familiar and comfortable, offering just enough width for versatile comfort.
Each women's size 7 Antora 3 weighs 9.28 ounces, which is around 2 ounces more than the lightest options in our lineup. The weight of this shoe is on par with others that offer as much rugged protection, but it feels a bit different. Unlike most trail running shoes, where the weight feels evenly dispersed around the shoe, the weight of the Antora noticeably rides in the bottom. Of course, this makes sense as this is where the majority of its shoe's awesome protective features live, but that doesn't change the sensation. The sole of the Antora feels heavier than most, making the entire shoe feel heavy as you run.
Should You Buy the Merrell Antora 3?
If you are looking for a trail shoe that doubles as a hiker, the Antora is a great choice. With an ample amount of comfort and protection, this is a shoe that will protect your feet on long trail days. If you are interested in something more nimble to promote agility and speed down technical trails, we recommend you look elsewhere.
What Other Trail Running Shoes Should You Consider?
For a trail runner that can accommodate wider feet and that still feels like a trail shoe, we recommend the Salomon Sense Ride 5 or the Salomon Pulsar Trail. Both options offer some protection and cushion but with a bit more responsive bounce and sensitivity. If the complete opposite of the Antora sounds more like your style, check out the La Sportiva Bushido II for ultimate sensitivity.
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