Product reviews/05/31/2023

ISPO Award Winner 2023: Merrell – MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx

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With the MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx, Merrell enters the upper echelon of performance trail running shoes, providing a stable running experience for long distances.

Stable and Lightweight

Trail runners can look forward to a reliable new running partner with the MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx from Merrell. For the jury, execution and material mix were decisive for the award decision. Thanks to the chosen 5 mm lugs and Vibram outsole, the shoe promises excellent grip. The use of Kevlar in the upper material noticeably reduces weight and also increases the lifespan of a trail running shoe. Sharp stones on trails will be less of a problem for the new upper material in the future. The combination with sustainable 37.5-technology, a contemporary material for thermoregulation based on natural minerals, is a successful one. Merrell’s development leap is clearly visible. The update of the MTL Long Sky 2 has been successfully completed.

With the MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx, the US manufacturer is primarily targeting professional trail athletes. “The MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx is aimed at elite trail runners that train day-in and day-out, regardless of the weather, so that they can compete at the highest level on race day. These shoes are meant to race hard and race fast on technical terrain around the globe,” says Ben Stark, Senior Brand Marketing Specialist at Merrell.

Single-layer Kevlar has been incorporated into the upper material.
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Feedback from Pro-Runners

Feedback from numerous test runs by professional runners from the Merrell athlete team was decisive in the development of the now award-winning trail running shoes. An exchange that is now proving to be worthwhile. “We use our global team of professional athletes to test and vet all of our trail running concepts and prototypes”, Ben Stark describes the cooperation with the athlete team. “The insights we gain from literal thousands of hours of athlete testing helps us determine necessary changes and improvements to our shoes before we bring them to market.”

This cooperation ranges in something as small as lacing material to something as important as outsole lug design. Once Merrell has validated the prototypes through athlete testing and feedback, the shoes were sent to third-party testing partners. “We wanted to put the shoes through human and mechanical trials to determine scientific data points on whatever specific concepts we built the shoes for”, Ben Stark explains. “For example, the original MTL Long Sky 2 was designed with a unique upper material meant to drain water quickly.” Merrell has designed unique tests with its competitors to prove that their shoe gains less water and drains water the fastest. Accordingly, the upper promises good breathability while keeping feet dry. Especially for long runs, this is a feature that should not be underestimated.

The MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx impresses with a modern design language.
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Evolution Over Reinvention

The focus with the Matryx Pack was evolution over reinvention. “With our elite athletes competing at the highest levels in the MTL Longsky 2, the goal was to further tune this pattern to meet their needs”, says Ben Stark. For the upper, Merrell partnered with Chamatex to develop a single layer, Kevlar reinforced, Matryx Woven textile. The Kevlar threads dramatically reduce stretch, locking the foot to the planform for a precise and breathable fit and feel on the trail. As described earlier: The lining package features a 37.5 moisture wicking treatment for comfort in the warmer months. The outsole features Vibram Megagrip with 5 mm lugs for maximum traction.

ISPO's sustainability expert Luisa Smith, who was consulted for the judging, also gives the new materials a thoroughly positive assessment: “The use of Kevlar, an aramid fiber that is used for bulletproof vests, is extremely strong and lightweight. The mention of 37.5, this is a brand ingredient that uses natural minerals for thermal regulation.”

The MTL Long Sky 2 Matryx is designed for elite trail runners.
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These Features Convinced the Jury:


  • -Matryx upper with Kevlar
  • 37.5 tongue and sock liner top sheet
  • Vibram Megagrip outsole


Statement of Merrell:

“This award is a great affirmation that Merrell continues to meet our goal of building the most technically sound and functionally versatile trail running shoes on the market. Our product team gets deep in the weeds of building (and rebuilding) performance footwear with athlete feedback, third-party testing, thousands of miles of trials and assessments. Winning an ISPO is one of the greatest achievements to validate all our hard work, and we can’t wait for consumers around the world to be able to test them out.”

What the ISPO Award Jury Says:

“With the update of the MTL Long Sky 2, Merrell has achieved a significant leap in development under the name suffix ‘Matryx’. The use of Kevlar and the temperature-regulating 37.5 technology incorporate modern materials. The brand is moving towards an environmentally friendly direction. The close collaboration between athletes and the development department seems to bear fruit continuously. In addition to the performance, the design is also appealing.”
ISPO Award Jury

Product Specifications:

  • Available: Q1 2024
  • RRP: € 170,00