Merrell Barefoot Run Vapor Glove Review
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As an active proponent of minimalist footwear, I am always excited to try a new offering in the category. I had a mostly positive experience with their first barefoot shoe but had a few mild fit issues that kept me from fully loving them. The Barefoot Run Vapor Glove is an ultra lightweight and flexible running shoe with zero drop from heel to toe and a 5.5 mm sole. The mesh upper is designed for maximum ventilation and breathability and can even be washed in cold water when it needs refreshing. The Vapor Glove is a straight forward entry into the barefoot running category for those who are basically looking for a protective sole to keep their foot safe while running in the most natural motion.
Fit of the Merrell Barefoot Run Vapor Glove
Fit of the Merrell Barefoot Run Vapor Glove is pretty stellar for my particular foot. The wide toe box allows my forefoot to splay naturally and not feel confined. That said, Merrell did a good job keeping the forefoot secure by tightening the fit around the knuckle and ‘6th toe’ area. True to its name, the Merrell RunVapor Glove follows the old expression ‘fits like a … you know.’ I evaluate the fit of a shoe largely on what I DON’T notice and by this standard, the Vapor Glove does great. No uncomfortable rubbing or chafing. No stitches or seams that stick out noticeably. Just a good, slipper like feel that is extremely comfortable to wear without socks. A standard lacing system with no fancy mechanisms gets the job done and keeps the shoe on your foot. The only issue I had with the fit has to do with the sizing. My 4 year old pair of Merrell Trail Glove shoes are a size 12 and they are just a little too short for my foot. My sample pair of Barefoot Run Vapor Gloves are a size 12 and my toe is about 3/4 of an inch from the end. This kind of inconsistency is unexpected from an experienced footwear maker like Merrell and I hope it was just a result of testing a sample pair and not a retail pair. My advice is to try them on before committing to purchase.
Running in the Barefoot Run Vapor Glove is pretty much exactly what you want in a barefoot shoe and I don’t have any complaints to mention. The shoes weigh almost nothing at 5 oz each and they are completely flexible, offering a feeling akin to true barefooting. The Vibram sole offers solid traction with a tread pattern consisting of tons of small diamond shaped shallow lugs and I felt comfortable on all road conditions. The sole is almost entirely flat but offers just a hint of shaping around the inside of the arch to mimic the foot’s shape. Heel hold was surprisingly solid considering the minimalist upper design; a TPU heel sling probably contributes to this. A fairly substantial toe bumper is present to help minimize the impact of running into something that you shouldn’t have. All told, Vapor Glove lives up to its ‘Barefoot Run’ title very well.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I have to say that I felt slightly self conscious about wearing the Vapor Glove because they are not the sexiest shoes around. The toe bumper is shaped in a way that just isn’t that attractive and it can turn some people off the shoe. Merrell does offer the Vapor Glove in multiple colors to suite different tastes but something about the design just doesn’t look that great to me. Style is personal so form your own opinion on the looks of the shoe.
If you can get past the somewhat unusual looks and you find the right size for your feet, the Merrell Barefoot Run Vapor Glove is an excellent option for minimalist runners or anyone looking for a cross training shoe that offers a nearly barefoot experience. They fit well, are very lightweight, and don’t get in the way; all welcome traits in this category. At $80, the Vapor Glove is also a solid value and I give them my seal of approval.
For more information on the Vapor Glove and other Merrell products, please visit www.merrel.com or www.amazon.com/merrell.