With the Agility Peak 5, Merrell has shown it can do much more than just hiking shoes. This impressive daily trail shoe puts it right on the trail running map…
Merrell Agility Peak 5
$140 / £140, amazon.co.uk
- Good versatile all-rounder
- Excellent grip
- Plush long-run comfort
- Some heel slipping
- Higher stack limits ground feel
More important that picking the best running shorts is choosing the right footwear for the running you do. When you first take the Merrell Agility Peak 5 out of the box, you can’t help but think of the Hoka Speedgoat. They follow much the same blueprint for a good daily trainer trail shoe: a big-stack rockered midsole, flexible but reinforced mesh uppers, padded plushness in the heel collars and substantial 5mm lugs.
They’re priced the same, too. So I gave these Peak 5 trail shoes a run for their money to see if they’re a genuine rival to Hoka’s popular trail shoes.
Merrell Agility Peak 5 design
The Merrell Agility Peak 5 is a well-cushioned daily-trainer-style trail shoe that aims to balance cushioned comfort with speed and versatility. It uses a new recipe – medium-density FloatPro foam that’s softer and more energetic than previous Peak models. There’s also a rocker to help smooth the ride and provide extra efficiency for those heel-to-toe transitions.
See how these compare against the rest of the best trail running shoes
It packs less midsole height overall than the Hoka Speedgoat 5 with a chunk less in the forefoot. The midsole also features dual-directional flex-grooves in the midsole for enhanced ground connection. So if you’re looking for a shoe with a little more forefoot ground contact, this is worth a look. There’s also a rock plate for extra protection from the gnarlier lumps underfoot.
Up top, the Agility Peak 5 have engineered mesh uppers with generous pliable TPU overlays that wrap the shoe from toe to heel. That’s good for durability. There’s also a gusseted wrap-around tongue that prevents lace pinch.
Flip them over and there’s a generous covering of 5mm Vibram traction lugs. The mix of chevrons and X shapes are specifically designed to increase traction and shed debris with each step.
Merrell has included some extra clever details here, too. There’s a D-Ring – a little loop at the bottom of the laces that gives you more lacing options – and a Velcro gaiter attachment at the heel.
They’re also treated for natural odour control (though there’s not much that can control my trail foot odour). There’s a more expensive GORE-Tex edition too if you want extra water repellency.
Merrell Agility Peak 5 weight, stack height and drop
When it comes to the midsole, the Merrell Agility Peak 5 stack height is listed as 31mm in the heel and the 25mm in the forefoot for a 6mm drop.
The Peak 5 tips the scales at 280g or 9.9oz in a UK size 8.5 shoe. That’s a bit lighter than the Hoka Speedgoat 5 and around the same as another road-to-trail favourite, the Nike Pegasus Trail 4.
At launch the Merrell Agility Peak 5 price was set at $140 / £140. That’s the same as you’ll pay for a Speedgoat 5 in the UK and $15 cheaper in the US.
Merrell Agility Peak 5 performance
The Peak 5 is a surprise package from a brand that often gets overlooked. But Merrell is starting to up its game and although past Merrells have been a bit uninspiring, this shoe is a sign that’s about to change.
In my tests I covered around 30 miles of trails in the Agility Peak 5, mostly on hard-packed forest trails and well-groomed park and river paths, with the odd bit of grass and heavy, boggy mud. I also clocked plenty of miles on the road to reach the trails.
I enjoyed the Merrell Agility Peak 5 straight out of the box. The plush heel collars, flexible uppers and wrap-around tongue provide great instant step-in comfort and a good disappearing feel on the foot. There’s a cradled security here that – for a wide-midfoot runner at least – feels locked in across the midfoot but natural and unrestrictive. I did experience some mild slipping in the heels but not enough to ruin the overall fit.
The ride is excellent, too. It’s nicely balanced from a midsole that’s softer, more cushioned and more protective than we had in the Agility Peak 4. There’s good roll-through and plenty of energy clipping along compacted trails. That midsole soaks up the road easily too. However, that big stack might not suit runners who like to feel more ground contact and connection to the trial underfoot.
When you hit lumpier ground, there’s decent stability and you can move across most terrain with confidence. Speaking of which, the grip on the Peak 5 is also excellent. I didn’t get to test it on slippery, crazy steep or rocky terrain but it handled all the conditions I threw at it, including some usually deadly wet cobblestones on the flats alongside the Thames.