Merrell whose name is synonymous with outdoor performance footwear releases the MTL Skyfire 2 & MTL Long Sky 2 running shoes. Not a trail runner? Not to worry, the Skyfire 2 & Long Sky 2 are both excellent daily drivers.
MTL stands for Merrell Test Lab. What that means is that the shoes are put through rigorous testing by Merrell Athletes. Ever hear the saying it’s tried and true? Well the MTL designation lets you know that these have actually been worn, tested and tweaked by the Merrell design team and athletes that focus on their footwear.
Merrell has provided us with the ladies MTL Skyfire 2 & MTL Long Sky 2 so that we could bring you our first hand experiences and review.
Merrell MTL Skyfire 2
Merrell’s MTL Skyfire 2 are hot off the press for 2023 just released globally in April. The Skyfire 2’s feature an ultra light weight design and I mean lightweight! At 6.88oz / 195g each they are so easy to wear and drastically cut down on leg fatigue. The Skyfire 2 is built as a race-day shoe but fabulous as your daily drivers for the summer season as well.
They’re just as comfy running on pavement, single track trail or just casual like for everyday wear. The Skyfire 2’s are extremely breathable and very streetable, quick-drying with mesh and TPU uppers and a Microfiber lining. A non-removable EVA foam foot bed ensures you have a confident and comfortable ride no matter your activity level.
The upper/shell is ultra thin yet rigid, made of composite mesh/TPU material for firm support and breathability. The shell is quite stiff; if it weren’t lined you could probably cut yourself on it. But with the thin yet soft microfiber / neoprene layer that lines the sneaker they’re surprisingly comfortable yet firm enough to provide good support.
The streamlined and rugged design features Vibram® MegaGrip® outsoles with 5mm lugs similar to those on cleats. The lugs give you 6mm of drop and provide the ultimate grip in both dry and wet conditions. This lug design also provides great feedback from the terrain for good awareness under foot. Thankfully we didn’t seem to notice the lugs on flat pavement.
For trail running you’ll need not only good support & comfort. The Skyfire 2’s feature a BZM FlexPlate™ sandwiched between a dual layer, dual density FloatPro™ Foam midsole makes for a comfortable and contoured fit with the ultimate grip and breathability. This stiffens up the shoe to provide torsional rigidity for good performance and stability under foot.
The tongue on the Skyfire 2 and Long Sky 2 are webbed, meaning it’s attached fully on both sides unlike a traditional tongue. Gearing up with the Skyfire 2 or Long Sky 2 means you’ll need to consciously navigate your foot under the tongue but once you’re in they’re very comfortable shoes.
Merrell MTL Long Sky 2
If you’re the prosumer type, the MTL Long Sky 2’s resemble everyday sneakers a bit more but offer more versatility while remaining a performance driven design. They’re constructed more like a traditional sneaker with a thicker upper and have been around since 2022. The Long Sky 2’s also use the Vibram® MegaGrip® honeycomb style outsole to cut down on weight.
The insole is made of EVA foam for its resiliency and lightweight properties while the midsole features FloatPro Foam™ for more cushion and comfort without sacrificing performance.
The upper is constructed of a combination of mesh and TPU material but includes a padded counter (heel area) that extends up to the laces for more cushion around the ankle/foot. They’re quick drying and offer plenty of 360 degree support while remaining lightweight at 268g or 9.45oz.
Construction of the Longsky 2 feels solid and the fit is comfy. They aren’t quite as cool as the Skyfire 2’s with the added padding but it does still feel pretty breathable and cool to wear.
Initially we ran into an issue where the heel counter was digging into the heel a tiny bit but that quickly disappeared on the 2nd wear. It’s possible to wear these with ankle socks and not have a problem. We found them to be very comfortable for extended periods of wear.
The Long Sky 2 also features the webbed tongue but it seems to work slightly better here since the entire upper and tongue are padded with more material, it will hold its shape and position a bit better so you’re not dealing with the tongue collapsing when you’re not in the shoe.
Grippy oh yeah!
Both the Skyfire 2 and Long Sky 2 feature the lightweight honeycomb Vibram® MegaGrip® outsoles. These things are grippy oh yeah! We are enjoying some added confidence running with these shoes in dry and wet conditions.
Rocky single tracks were easier to navigate with more confident footing from the cleat like lugs and grippy outsoles. From gravel to pavement, single track to sidewalk they provide a solid foundation and secure supportive fit. Even with the 6mm lug drop both sneakers seemed to feel like normal on flat pavement; we didn’t get the feeling that we were walking in the parking lot in cleats. Both are very comfy, we find ourselves wearing them as daily drivers.
Skyfire 2 & Long Sky 2 Sizing Recommendation
Both the ladies Skyfire 2 and Long Sky 2 ran a bit small and we would recommend to size up 1 size. Our test model is female, has a high arch and normally wears between 5.5 US and 6 US ladies. The size 6 gave enough room laterally with a good secure fit, no sliding, slipping or blisters to mention in either shoe. Both were very comfortable on or off trail, gravel to asphalt.
For style and comfort the Skyfire 2 and Long Sky 2’s are great and both very streetable. The caveat to keep in mind that these raised cleat like lugs on the outsole can wear down faster on flat asphalt or concrete and are best worn off-trail or single track.
Championed by Reid Burrows, Canadian triathlete & endurance runner from Grand Bay-Westfield, New Brunswick, Canada; Ried currently runs in the Long Sky 2 and will be running in the new globally released Skyfire 2 in 2023.
“Being able to represent Merrell in the Canadian and U.S. trail running communities has ignited a spark in me and I could not be more grateful for everything running has gifted me,” said Burrows. “I’m an advocate for believing in yourself, chasing big dreams, and learning from failure, and I hope I am able to inspire others to do to the same.”
Merrell Test Lab
Merrell’s athletes also play a key role in research and development through the Merrell Test Lab (MTL) – the brand’s in-house product incubator. MTL is home to the brand’s most innovative, disruptive shoes made for elite trail runners that are lab-validated and athlete-tested.
That’s a Wrap
A good pair of running sneakers or daily drivers for spring & summer are essential. When your feet are hot, you’ll feel hot. Versatile footwear can be an invaluable asset while traveling or hiking.
The Skyfire 2’s are incredibly breathable and keep your feet as cool as they can be. They feature quick-dry technology and are ultra lightweight for summer. They look sharp and feel great.
The Long Sky 2’s have a more traditional sneaker construction without sacrificing the performance of the design. The added padding provides more durability, support and comfort for casual day-to-day wear as well as more rugged trail hiking and/or running days.