This is a subtle, and in my judgment, successful update of my favorite trail shoe. Merrell has wisely chosen to make only minor changes to the most popular minimalist trail shoe on the market. If you are, like many “barefoot” runners, like the heroine of the Princess and the Pea, you’ll be pleased with the most significant improvement. The rock plate no longer feels like a bulge in the forefoot part of the sole. I had to put the old version on one foot, and the new model on the other, to fully appreciate the difference. The outsole looks exactly the same (I believe it is), but the change to the rock plate means that the sole flattens out more in the forefoot, and one no longer feels like the rock plate is something one must run over. Further, as the sole now feels less laterally rounded, the upper, made from a new, silkier fabric, allows for more forefoot width as the sole spreads out. So, while the width of the sole hasn’t changed, the shoe feels wider in the forefoot. The base of the lace box is also wider, so there is more width across the metatarsals. Merrell has eliminated the lower pairs of Omnifit lace closures. I really like these closures and the snug midfoot fit they provide, but the remaining upper two pair are more than adequate for accomplishing this. So: Likes: Disappearing rock plate Softer fabric upper, wider across the forefoot Mixed Omnifit and standard lacing system. Dislike: Nutten. A great shoe just got better! Note: my first impression is that the new shoes feel less slippery than did their predecessor. More flex in the forefoot, both lateral and longitudinal, seems to be the only reason for this. The old shoe felt like one was landing on a ball (or, at least, on a slightly rounded outsole), with only a small portion of the forefoot outsole firmly on the ground when one was running on a flat surface. The new rock plate lets the sole flatten or wrap around rocks or lumps in the running surface, while still giving adequate protection.