Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $110 US (from an official Merrell store)
Versatile minimal shoes — don't have to be hardcore barefoot if you don't want to.
- Good arch support (for normal arches)
- Comfortable for walking and hikes
- Can wear them with socks
I was moving out of the country with a pretty limited baggage allowance, so I got these shoes for walking around, light workouts, and trails. Over a year later and they've been great for all of that and have held up pretty well! I should mention that I haven't trained to do barefoot running and so I don't attempt to in these (I only jog a bit in these if I'm late!) and cannot comment on how they perform for that.
These were my first official barefoot shoes, though I've always preferred wearing form-fitting, thin-soled shoes. They fit well and were comfortable straight out of the box. I wear size 5.5-6 US and got these in size 6 after trying on a few different sizes and varieties. My feet are probably on the narrow side and I don't have any arch problems, so I generally don't have problems with form-fitting shoes like these. The elastic part on the back also allows you to slip these on and off if you're okay with a slightly looser fit.
I've walked all day in them a LOT and have also hiked some forested trails (5-10 km) in them. My feet have always felt fine afterwards. Mind you, I still feel like I've walked a lot because there's no padding, but there's also no soreness caused by pressure spots and definitely no blisters. The mesh keeps out pebbles and debris and lets feet breathe (though you always feel drier when there's a layer of sock wicking away sweat), but is also not at ALL resistant.
On the bright side, they are still pretty comfortable to wear when wet — just make sure you adjust the fit if you don't generally wear them very tight so that your feet don't slip. You probably won't have grip problems in the rain if you're just on pavement, but they are a bad idea if any mud is involved.
To give an example, on one trail full of ups and downs and clambering over and under tree trunks, I started walking with socks on (just for some extra padding) and it started pouring down with rain halfway through so the last 4km or so was a lot of sockless sliding down muddy logs. My regular Merrell sneakers probably would've been a safer choice, given all the slipping and almost falling over that happened, but my feet at least felt quite okay after the ordeal. And the shoes themselves were pretty presentable again after a soapy bath.
I bought these shoes figuring they'd last a year, since the soles were so thin and had shallow treads. It's been about 18 months now and I haven't had the soles come apart on me (there are cracks starting to develop where the sole and upper meet at the front, but the soles are still stuck on tight), though some of the treads have worn away completely and so I would definitely not be wearing these anywhere near mud and streams. They still grip well on wet surfaces in the city, though, and the tops of the shoes have held up perfectly.
All in all, I've quite liked these shoes. Even the weird green color that I reluctantly got has worked pretty well with whatever I wore with them (even some work-appropriate 'smart casual'). Unfortunately, they're still really expensive, especially here in the Southern Hemisphere, so I probably won't be getting Merrells again when I need to replace mine (unless I encounter a pretty wicked sale).
I'm giving them four stars because while they've been phenomenal, I feel like I would've had the same experience in many cheaper shoes, especially since my feet tend to fit these types of shoes quite well.
Price Paid: About $100
I got this shoe three weeks ago and have been very pleased with it. So far I've worn it on a bunch of street runs, three short technical trail runs, and a 13.5 mile Rocky Mountain hike to 11,000 feet that was 75 percent slogging through/on knee-deep wet snow and through streams.
It's a true minimalist shoe with an extremely thin sole and toe-friendly wide forefoot. It has good enough lugging to be reasonably grippy going down wet rocks. Lots of nice details:
- Elastic collar around ankles to keep out gravel
- Sole extends to front of toe for a bit of a bumper
- Laces run through bands, not grommets, so less friction on top of foot and shoe doesn't flop open when unlaced.
- Laces up snugly for efficiency without strangling your foot at all--nice and soft
- Very, very breathable mesh body with leather on the stress points
- Great for people like me with wide feet
One big fault—a 1/2" length of the rubber on one toe bumper has already started detaching. This does not bode well.
Also, this is not a shoe for first-time minimalists to take on a long trail run or hike. I'm a relatively strong barefooter and my feet were TIRED at the end of that 13.5 miles—to the point that I was wading through snowmelt pools to ease my feet at the end.
If the rubber and glues hold up I wouldn't hesitate to buy this shoe again and I'm a very serious shoe loyalist. Also looking forward to trying the Trail Glove, which is in the same series.
(I have no affiliation with any gear company.)
Price Paid: $99
I love the shoe for trail running, BUT three pairs have had the Vibram sole detach from the shoe at the toe area. Glue process from Merrell is terrible.