Merrell and Dogfish Head beer collaboration sneaker in bright seafoam green color

First Look: Merrell’s ‘Sustainable’ Collaboration Contains Algae

The Agility Synthesis is a popular Merrell trail-running shoe. This week, the outdoor brand teamed up with brewer Dogfish Head on a more sustainable version.

Algae. Recycled laces. Recycled TPU. The ingredients of Merrell’s newest trail-running shoe are a far cry from the water, barley, and yeast you’ll find in most Dogfish Head products. But that didn’t slow the two brands down in working together on a shoe project that aims to tip the scale toward sustainability.

Merrell this week announced the Agility Synthesis x Dogfish shoe, a more sustainable version of its Agility Synthesis. And while the beer company and the outdoor brand may make for unique bedfellows, the initiative plays into their environmental ethe.

And to underscore that fact, 10 percent of the sales (up to $10,000) will be donated to The Conservation Alliance, whose mission is to engage businesses to fund and partner with organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values.

We got our hands on the Agility Synthesis x Dogfish shoe for a quick first look.

Merrell Agility Synthesis x Dogfish Head

The Agility Synthesis ($110) is a well-regarded trail-running shoe, rocking a 4.5-star rating among customers.

merrell agility synthesis dogfish head

I strapped a pair on and went for a few runs around Denver and was pleased. The shoe hits a goldilocks design that should work well for a broad selection of trail users.

While this one has the equivalent of two recycled water bottles in the upper, a midsole called “Bloom” composed of 10 percent algae, an outsole composed of 30 percent recycled material, a 40-percent-recycled mesh lining, 100-percent-recycled TPU overlays, and 100-percent-recycled laces, you’d never know it when running. The shoe just works. It gives modest protection, good proprioception, and has a 6mm heel-to-toe drop that fits a lot of runners and hikers.

The outsole rocks burly 5mm lugs for good traction, which I found aren’t too aggressive even for pavement. While I’ve tested these only briefly so far, they seem to be good, middle-of-the-road trail shoes.

They should appeal to runners as an everyday trail trainer and also to hikers who want a light shoe for fast hiking. Each Agility Synthesis shoe weighs 9 ounces.

The shoe kicks off an initiative to use more recycled materials across the Merrell line. Look for a lot of recycled stories coming from the brand (and others) in its lifestyle, trail-running, and hiking lines in 2020.

So if you’re in the market for a trail shoe, it’s worth checking out. These have some pretty wild designs and definitely stand out on the foot. And with a strong sustainability story, they’ll give you something positive to discuss when drinking your next post-run beer. This is a limited edition, so get it now — available for men and women.

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.