After the success of last year's All Out Crush Tough Mudder trail shoe, Merrell has teamed up with the top rough-stuff obstacle course event brand to create another trail shoe capable of taking on the hardest obstacle courses in all conditions - the Avalaunch Tough Mudder Trail Shoe.
Straight out of the box, the impression is of a seriously light, minimalist trail shoe, with a deeply lugged sole, a stiff, self-supporting mesh panelled uppers and not a lot of underfoot cushioning. The traditional laces of last year's model have been swapped for a cord and toggle 'speed lacing' system.
Put them on and you can add foot hugging support with a wrapping fit across the instep and around the heel to that surprisingly light weight.
Hitting the trail during a seriously wet and muddy summer we found the level of grip amazing, thanks, no doubt to the Avalaunch's 5mm multi-directional lugs, laid out in a mix of triangles and blocks. This meant confidence on all manner of off-road terrain, from rocks, to mud and wet grass.
The minimal cushioning makes for superb trail feel, without any discomfort over rocky ground, but if insist on a plush footbed you may need to look elsewhere. For our part, the additional feel and control was more than worth it.
The move to speed lacing is a success too, with the quick and easy cord and toggle system staying in place and never needing to be tightened on the trail once cinched up before you start.
That supportive, wrapping fit comes in handy at pace and on technical sections, stopping your foot from slipping around in the shoe - no doubt helped by the padded Lycra collar that holds your ankle snuggly, and a neoprene heel lining.
Plenty of water found its way into the Avalaunchs but thanks to the mesh panels it found its way out again too, whereas stones and other trail debris are kept out by that snug ankle collar and a neoprene bellows tongue.
In conclusion; an excellent, lightweight, obstacle course shoe that is tough and technical enough to take any off-road trail running, in any weather, in its stride, providing you with condfidence inspiring grip in any conditions. Fantastic value too!