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on May 12, 2014
I'm normally a size 9 in most shoes but Merrell's seem to run large. I have another pair of Merrell's where I was an 8 so I ordered that and am happy it fits perfectly! These shoes are very comfortable and do breathe even though they are waterproof.
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on May 20, 2014
great fit / construction / quality / style... they were all that. however, i didn't like the gore-tex that krinkled and flopped back and forth with MUCH noise while walking. i bought them to keep my feet dry and for sure footedness on the trail while bird and wildlife watching, but you couldn't sneak up on helen keller in these shoes.

a great idea that didn't work out for me. back to the drawing board Merrell. i know you can hit another home run. i own 3 other pair of Merrell's and think they're great... but quite expensive. maybe you could make them a little more affordable.
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on August 11, 2014
After starting with the non-waterproof Ascend Glove and freezing my toes while backpacking in the rain, I got this Gore-Tex version and they have been amazing. I never thought I could hike, much less backpack, with minimal shoes. But I just completed a 35 mile backpack in the Wind River Range when it rained every day, and my feet stayed mostly dry. More importantly, they stayed warm. My toes did get a little wet, and my heels got wet because of the low-cut design. But the Gore-Tex cuts the windchill, so my feet never got cold, and the shoes dried quickly just by wearing them, or by setting them in the sun for an hour.

I added some Spenco Comfort Insoles (green) for added cushioning, and that has been a welcome addition. (I purchased an oversized insole and cut it to size so that it completely fills the bottom of the Ascend, which is wider than most shoes.)

I started wearing the Ascend Gloves while hiking Colorado and Utah canyon trails, going straight up and down steep trails, and was thrilled with the nimbleness and traction the shoes afford. You learn to place your steps more carefully, and let your foot act as a shock absorber by stepping on your balls, not heels. I had a brief bout of tendonitis when I ran down Mt. Garfield, but that passed in a few days, and I have never had foot problems since.

After the 35 mile backpack, I was amazed that my feet did not ache and hurt like they always have when wearing boots. (Last year I backpacked 17 miles in Keens, and my feet hurt like crazy by the end.) I'm in my 50s, so this revelation is quite welcome! I don't recommend that you switch to these 100% on the first day if you've never gone minimal before, but I did, and it worked, and I'm not going back to boots!

PS--I wear 8½ shoes, and the 8½ Glove fits me just fine, with room for the Spencos. But the shoes feel snug without the insoles, too. You just lace them up, like gloves. Laces have stayed reliably tied, which is appreciated.
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on August 14, 2014
I own 4 other pairs of trail gloves. I'm 6'4 240lbs and they are the only shoe that doesn't give me plantar fasciitis. These are a little bit more rugged than your average trail glove and do very well on rocks and sketchy terrain. In fact I found myself in ice and snow up backpacking Yosemite High Country in early May this year and these things did great. Obviously being a low-top the water eventually finds its way into the shoe when you're knee deep in snow but the gortex on these makes it totally waterproof. I've worn these shoes on some of the toughest and longest hikes I've done to date. They are the only shoe I will hike or backpack in. Period.
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on February 1, 2015
Only problem is why review these shoes when Merrell seems intent on stopping making them? Anyhow, that said: I've been looking long and hard for a waterproof option for minimalist shoes. Merrell's seemed to run a bit narrow for my feet (many minimalist shoe wearers feet get wider after a few years), so was hesitant. Plus, I usually take a 9 now. That said, these were great at 8.5, good and wide, fit fine, withstood the slushy muck of NY city streets after a big snowstorm, plus the wet snowy rocky trail run I like. These will be my new minimalist shoes for all mushy hikes/runs + ready-for-anything day wear. Sole very grippy on rough terrain. Rock plate functional. Looks good enough to wear for business casual.
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on February 1, 2015
I'm a big fan of Merrell's minimal footwear for the roads; however, I found the trail glove they make a bit too minimal for the trails where I live in SoCal. I really like this shoe for more mellow trails, but I find the tread not aggressive enough nor the cushioning enough for more technical or very steep trails. Still a great shoe. I also have put a few hundred miles of hiking on it too. On a positive note this shoe has fantastic tread life and can probably suffer 300-500 trail miles.
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VINE VOICEon June 19, 2014
I wasn't sure how this shoe would fit and/or what it's like going for a jog on a trail. Buying shoes online and not in a store comes with it's risks. However, I was quite pleased when they arrived and I tried them on. They are very comfortable and very light weight. Not quite what I was expecting from a trail running shoe. The fit is as I expected it to be. I have a 10.5 wide foot, so I selected a 11 medium.

These are great shoes, but I'm not sure how great they're on for heavy duty trails in the woods. They come lower than I would expect, so not much protection from a root sticking up or a rock. I wouldn't knock a star off for that, but something to be aware of.
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on September 30, 2014
These shoes were everything that I was looking for, with the exception of the quality...

My last pair of Merrell shoes lasted me for over 5 years. Regardless of the brand name that I have to come to trust, I expect that when I pay over $100 for a pair of outdoor shoes, the stitching will not be falling out in under a week.

After wearing the shoes 3 whole times (in which I did nothing but walk around campus for an hour or less), the stitching that holds the insole down to the midsole/outsole has come undone. Leaving me with a uncomfortable hole under my left big toe.... The whole is slowly getting bigger as more and more stitches continue to rip.

Shortly after the interior stitching on the left shoe started to come undone, I am now noticing stitching on the right exterior shoe coming undone as well. The stitching that connects the toe cap to the toe box fraying rapidly. The toe cap and and toe box are still connected but I imagine it is only a matter of time before that is compromised.

The shoes are great. Light weight, water proof, comfortable and good looking. Too bad the quality is so poor...

As a broke college student, this was an expensive investment for waterproof shoes for the winter. I am very upset as I can not see them lasting a single winter.
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on September 24, 2014
I now own three pairs of Merrell shoes, all in the same size, but these feel a half size too small. Maybe they were mis-labeled at the factory. The price you pay for ordering online. I wore them anyway, because I didn't have time to return them before I traveled to a wet climate. My toes are paying the price of that decision. Other than the sizing problem, I really like the soles. They are definitely trail running shoes, and handle different types of terrain very well..

I think another reviewer pointed out that the gore-tex makes noise. I noticed this as well. While walking/running it makes a small crinkling noise as the shoe bends, then a "whoop" sound when you pick up your foot and the shoe straightens back out. That is the best I can describe it. After a few runs and a week of walking around the noise mostly went away. It is not loud, and only really noticeable in quiet environments. The gore-tex probably needs to break in.

I previously owned a pair of Merrill Mix Masters (which I loved), but I think it would be unfair for me to compare the Gore-tex Ascends to the Mix Masters because the Mix Masters were not a half size too small. Plus, the shoes are designed for different climates, and thus behave differently.

I will point out that Gore-tex is advertised as a breathable and waterproof material, but is not waterproof nor very breathable. Gore-tex material provides a compromise of both worlds. If you stand in a puddle long enough, the water will seep through. It should be advertised as water resistant. The shoe did keep my feet drier than my other running shoes would have, just don't expect miracles if you are out in heavy rain, like I have been. Also, when I run in these, my feet get noticeably hotter than I am used to. They don't breath well. I have been running in 80+ degree F weather, when breathable shoes are important. If you are planning on using these in cooler climate this may not be a concern.

I gave this shoe 3-stars mostly because of the sizing issue. I would expect sizing to be consistent within a brand. Also, the noise from the Gore-tex is a little annoying when I notice it. I also don't like that the Gore-tex is advertised as waterproof and breathable. I think that is misleading. However, the Gore-tex Ascend is by no means a terrible shoe. It is well constructed with an excellent sole. If you need a minimalist trail running shoe for those cool, wet days, this may be your shoe. I just suggest getting it sized in a store.
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on November 10, 2014
I guess i should have figured that they would fit super tight when they are called glove.. But i have vibrams five fingers and those are literally the closest thing to a glove shoe you can buy and they fit awesomely. Plenty of room and give for your foot to fit in. These did not, they were much too narrow, Not wide enough. Just a tight shoe with almost no give to accommodate for your unique foot. Eventually i did break them in enough so they didnt hurt, but you shouldnt have to do this. Also these are not barefoot running shoes or anywhere near something like vibrams. They felt like normal shoes to me, Ive been running with vibrams for years and these arent even close.
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Despite this i wore them because they were expensive and I was too lazy to return them. Cut to 3 months later and these shoes revealed what i assume is a manufacturing defect. On the right shoe there is a knot of some material in the midsole that has poked its way through the upper layer. I am very hard on shoes, they rarely last more than 6 months, but i dont find it acceptable that theres a half dollar sized knot of very hard material that has broken through and makes them damn near impossible to wear. I only still wear them while i await new shoes.

Will be VERY hesitant to ever buy merrell shoes again.
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