Sunday, December 03, 2023

Merrell Morphlite Review: Super Light Weight Door to Trail Fast Fun for $100 - 4 Comparisons

Article by Renee Krusemark

Merrell Morphlite ($100)


Great value at $100: Renee

Extremely lightweight: Renee


Not the best for anything other than very light trail or gravel/dirt roads: Renee


Sample Weight: women’s 6.56oz / 186g US8

Stack Height:  26.5mm heel / 20mm forefoot, 6.5 mm drop

Platform Width: 90mm heel / 75mm midfoot / 110mm forefoot

$100  Available Jan/Feb 2024

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Renee: As a consumer, I usually ask myself two questions about a running shoe before I buy it: What does it cost? What does it weigh? 

The Morphlite has two excellent responses: $100 and 6.56oz/186g in my women’s size 8. The Morphlite initially seemed like a shoe I could use for almost anything, and after 60 miles, that’s basically my assessment. For the review, I ran on gravel and dirt roads, through harvested fields, on light trails, and on snowy single track. The shoe definitely leans more toward the road than single track terrain. 

The upper is a jacquard mesh that Merrell states is “engineered with tighter weave and built-in bootie construction for a locked-in fit.” I don’t think of the upper as a bootie construction. It’s basically a traditional road shoe upper with a fully gusseted tongue, and that’s not a bad thing. 

I found the upper to be comfortable. The mesh has some stretch to it. I was able to get a good fit, although it’s not as secure as I would like for anything more than a light trail and that’s okay because the Morphlite is clearly not for technical terrain. 

Every time I put the shoe on, the lateral side feels narrow, which is odd because the shoe has a wide platform. When running (or walking), the shoe in no way felt narrow. I think those with normal to narrow feet width will have a good fit. I recommend true to size, knowing the fit is much more of a road shoe than trail. 

Merrell had several other good-looking colorways of the Morphlite on display at The Running Event in Austin, Texas. 

Midsole & Platform

Renee: The stack is 26.5/20mm of FloatPro, which is a lightweight foam. And it’s super lightweight. My woman's size 8 is 6.56 oz, which feels like nothing underfoot. Merrell lists the cushioning as medium and the recommended distance of use at less than 25k. 

For those who don’t need a lot underfoot, the shoe works well for longer distances too. I ran 20 and 22 milers in the shoes and had no issues with comfort underfoot. Because of its light weight, the shoe works well for short distances and fast paces too. 

The midsole is a happy medium between responsive and comforting. It’s not the responsiveness of a performance shoe, but the shoe is incredibly lightweight, so it doesn’t take much effort to get a fast turnover. I debated if some runners might find the midsole flat, and it might feel that way if the shoe was heavier. 

For me, the shoe rolls forward smoothly from any foot landing. There is no rocker, which I tend to prefer especially on trails or gravel. 

I wonder about the durability of the midsole because I have noticeable creasing, but the underfoot ride hasn’t changed. The platform is wide (110mm at the widest part of the forefoot landing), so it runs stable on even terrain. The wide platform prohibits a nimble landing on single track trails or uneven terrain. 


Renee: The lug depth is listed at 3mm. The outsole lugs seem like little nubs more than trail lugs. You won’t notice the lugs on the road and they won’t provide much traction on debris-filled trails, mud, or snow. When running on snow, I thought the outsole did great on the flat, smooth sections. The lugs aren’t deep enough to provide grip on single track trails, but I took them on single track anyway just to hike. I have wear on the exposed midsole sections of the outsole after running through fields and on debris-filled trails. The rubber areas have no wear after 60 miles. Overall, the outsole has a hybrid road-to-light-trail focus. For someone who runs gravel/dirt roads and not much pavement as I do, the outsole works great.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Renee: Did I mention that the Morphlite costs $100 and weighs only 6.56oz in my women’s size 8? I think I did! The ride of the Morphlite is fun for me because it’s so lightweight. The midsole stack is enough for long runs and I can use it for shorter, faster efforts as well. The shoe is not performance based in terms of having a super responsive midsole, but it provides a quick turnover thanks to the light underfoot feel. The shoe is most definitely a hybrid road to trail option. I used the shoe on a snowy hike , and it wasn’t the best choice. 

The shoe is fine on light trails, or any terrain where you could just wear a road shoe instead or a trail shoe. The advantage of the Morphlite as compared to a road shoe is the weight, and a slight bit more grip from its 3mm lugs. For those who run gravel and dirt roads, the Morphlite is a great option, especially at the price. 

Renee’s Score: 9.5/10 

(-.50 limited to very light trail/gravel, dirt roads due to its upper and 3 mm lugs)


4 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE Roadtrailrun 

Hoka Challenger 7 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Challenger 7 will work better on trails because of the more secure/narrow fitting upper. The lugs aren’t much more useful on trail, but it’s an easier shoe to control on switchbacks or rocky terrain compared to the Morphlite; plus, it’s more protective underfoot because of its firmer midsole. For anything more similar to road terrain, I’d choose the Morphlite because it’s more comfortable (the upper and underfoot feel). Both are lightweight shoes, although the Morphlite is still notably lighter. 

Nike Pegasus Trail 4 (RTR Review)

Renee: The Peg Trail 4 is also a hybrid shoe and both work great as casual shoes as well. Despite its  high drop, the Peg Trail 4 is easy to control on single track with a nimble forefoot landing with  the upper is also much more secure on the Peg Trail 4. The midsole has more responsiveness as well. For rolling terrain, I’d choose the Morphlite. Both are light, but the Morphlite is much lighter. 

Saucony Ride 15 TR (RTR Review)

Renee: The most recent trail version of the Ride, the Ride 15 TR is a hybrid shoe too. The lugs work a bit better for trail and the shoe has a more secure upper as compared to the Morphlite. The Morphlite is much lighter, and runs faster and more comfortable on rolling or road-type terrain. 

Brooks Divide 4  (RTR Review)

Renee: Another $100 shoe! For a trail shoe, the Divide 4 is the better option. The Morphlite is lighter and more comfortable on road (gravel/dirt or pavement). 

The Merrell Morphlite will be available Jan/Feb 2024

Tester Profile

Renee is a former U.S.Marine journalist, which is when her enjoyment of running and writing started. She isn’t that awesome of a runner, but she tries really hard. Most of her weekly 50-60 miles take place on rural country roads in Nebraska, meaning mud, gravel, dirt, hills, and the occasional field. She has PR’s of 1:30:59 for the half marathon and 3:26:45 for the marathon.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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