Gear Review: The Merrell Trail Running Trio – Cruise, Tenon and Brookvale

I’m new to Merrell.  So far, I’ve been impressed.  I was introduced to the brand during a trail running event called the Merrell Oyster Off Road Adventure Race in Glenwood Springs, Colo.  Being the title sponsor, Merrell allowed me to test three different items: the CTR Cruise trail running shoes, Tenon baselayer and Brookvale shell.  This trail running trio was an excellent combination of rugged support and off-road excellence.   Merrell’s recipe of style and performance translate into optimal three-season gear.  I’m not entirely sure they’ll be optimized for snowshoeing, but that won’t hold me back from trying (later, of course).

The Cruise shoes have been a tough addition to my trail running gear.  They’re best for wide feet, provide a protective upper shell and offer sufficient ankle support (especially when launching off of rocks and turning corners quickly).  I wouldn’t recommend the CTRs for everyday running – these are designed for obstacle-laden trails.

It’s the treads on these shoes that motivate me the most.  They offer circular and crisscross patterns that cater to the pressure points of your feet for favorable maneuverability.  Similar to the Ford Bronco I owned about eight years ago, their downhill four-wheel-drive-like performance offers the necessary stability on varied terrain.     

Cruise features:

• M-fit semi-curved gender specific anatomical last
• T-cup slip resistant heel and tongue construction
• Nature-Tex recycled strobel board
• Outlast heat management sock liner
• Ortholite anti-microbial comfort foam sock insert
• DWR treatment provides Durable Water Resistance

• iR3 rubber outsole for durability and traction
• Gait-Phase (g-PHASE) midsole cushioning
• g3-PHASE provides responsive heel cushioning
• iR1 Sticky rubber for lateral traction and grip

For more information about the CTR Cruise, visit  To purchase a pair of Merrell Cruise trail running shoes: Women’s, Men’s

My blue Tenon S/S is polyester brilliance.  Not the brilliance of fast-food restaurant uniforms but the good moisture wicking luster that only runners can appreciate.  Merrell created the Tenon to provide comfort and core body temperature regulation – a boon for warmer days.  

It’s almost like science fiction: A baselayer that can almost control and adapt to the environment.  The Tenon’s crossover crew neckline and flatlock stitching provide a smooth surface to avoid the annoyances of neck and arm chaffing.   

Tenon features:

• Merrell Opti-Wick moisture management technology
• 100% polyester
• UPF fabric
• 3-D fabric gives dimension and moisture-wicking performance
• Merrell N.A.D.A dye-free fabric colorway
• Crossover crewneck
• Reverse fabric color blocking adds graphic style
• Flatlock stitching with single thread contrast throughout prevents chafing
• Reflective detail on upper back
• Integrated back media pocket stores tunes
• Merrell reflective logo
• 170g. (6.0 oz.)
• 28” center back length (men’s large)

For more information about the Tenon, visit

There’s nothing like the feeling of a new shell for running.  The Merrell Brookvale shell is made with Aeroblock technology that blocks the wind and doesn’t allow for overheating – particularly when coupled with the Tenon baselayer (or other preferred baselayers).  The underarm and torso meshing provide essential vents when overheating (one of my favorite features on the Brookvale).    

The Brookvale is perfect for extended runs.  It easily packs away in a day backpack when it’s no longer needed.  What’s even more exciting about the Brookvale is its “on-the-fly” pack-away feature: It transforms the shell into a stuff pouch with an accessible outer multi-pocket.  Stuff it with energy gels, bars, an MP3 player, whatever the preference.  

Brookvale features:

• Merrell Aeroblock wind-resistant technology
• 100% polyester with DWR finish for wind and water resistant protection
• 50+ UPF fabric
• Jacket packs into pocket
• Mesh ventilation panels under arms and along torso for heat regulation
• Two side stash pockets hold gel, MP3 and other essentials
• Lycra-bound stuff pocket
• Packs away into back zip pocket to form belted carrying pouch
• Multi-pocket on pouch for energy gel or MP3 player
• Slight droptail for extra back coverage
• 360° reflectivity for complete visibility
• Reflective Merrell logo
• 240g. (8.5 oz.)
• 30” center back length (men’s large)

For more information about the Brookvale, visit

About the author

Ryan Alford