Merrell Barefoot Water Current Glove
Barefoot running has taken off in recent years and with that, more products have come to market. Along with that, shoes are getting more specialized- think trail versus road barefoot shoes. Outdoor footwear innovator Merrell has brought to market several versions of barefoot style shoes, among them are the Barefoot Water Current Glove. Designed for general water sports, this shoe addresses the needs of a shoe in the water and the necessity of getting there in the first place.
I’ve been getting on my stand up paddle board a lot lately, going for easy paddles, long excursions and some surf sessions as well. Like any sport, keeping your feet happy is a big component to a fun SUP session. Often you need to walk along sand and over rocks just to get to the water. This is where going barefoot can be a real gamble. Also, standing barefoot on a board can quickly tire your feet out. The Barefoot Water Current Glove from Merrell solves both problems by providing protection on land and support in the water. Like SUPing itself, it’s a versatility is it’s selling point.
Just getting to the water I appreciated this shoe. Walking in the Current Glove is like other barefoot shoes in that it has just enough protection without being overbuilt. With a zero drop heel I felt much more connected to the ground and in it also helped me activate my core muscles, a key to proper paddling. Merrell uses a 4mm compression molded midsole and Vibram’s Aqua Glove Sole and TC-1 Rubber to protect your feet when on land. The toe has a little extra protection from a rubber cap, a nice touch when you get pushed by a wave and are searching for your footing. Merrell also uses what they call a rear sling, which is basically rubber wrapped around the heel, to keep this low profile shoe secure. This may not seem like much, but when you are in the waves and water is up to your knees the sling really does keep things in place. Additionally, the traction from the Vibram built outsole was fantastic. I love a good adventure, but rock balancing with an 11″1′ board in one hand and a paddle in the other isn’t one I look forward to. The secure fit and traction, along with the protection made getting to the water just that much easier.
Once over the rocks and in the water the Current Glove continued to impress. Since one of the goals of SUPing is to improve balance and core strength, you don’t want the shoe to do all the work. This is where the zero drop heel, low profile and flexible really shine. I was able to still feel the board and while there was some support in the arch, my core and lower legs were still doing the bulk of the work. After a few hours on the board, I greatly appreciated the minimal support provided. Many times when I step back on dry land my feet hurt and the first few steps are awkward at best. Not only that, but the water isn’t always warm and when it splashes on your feet it can be quite a shock. A little extra warmth helps keep your feet feeling nimble and not like frozen blocks.
The fit of the shoe, excuse me, glove, is pretty wide and open. Don’t expect to squeeze your feet into these. The rear pull tab on the heel makes entry easy, as does the roomy toe box. My size 10 fit with plenty of extra room, so if you are one of those people that slots in between a half and full size, consider going with the smaller of the two.
As any good water shoe should, the Current Glove has the right materials to excel in the drink. All materials are quick drying, something important when you’re walking to the local fish taco shack after a nice paddle. The front and rear water drainage ports are huge and actually work. The mesh panels in the upper also do a nice job of letting water out rather than fill up the shoe. Again, traction was good, though the deck pad does most of the work. To keep the shoe from smelling like ocean water (trust me, this isn’t a good thing in clothing) Merrell treats the shoe with an Aegis antimicrobial solution.
While I didn’t use it for any kayak touring or canoeing, I could see this shoe being just as good for those pursuits. This would even be a good shoe for those that live by the water and want something that will stand up to the ravages of the water.
The Barefoot Water Current Glove may have a name that’s a bit too long, but it does what it says. I couldn’t really find any faults with this shoe as it has a fairly specific use and does that very well. If you’re going to be in the water and on land and need a single shoe that excels in both worlds, has a great fit and keeps you connected to the land or your board, check out the Current Glove from Merrell.