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Merrell Barefoot Road Glove Running Shoe Review and Giveaway

Merrell Road GloveIf you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Merrell. I like their shoes, I like the company, and I’ve had nothing but positive interactions with the people who work there. Over the past year I’ve done quite a bit of running in the Merrell Trail Glove (read my Merrell Trail Glove review here), and it has also seen quite a bit of causal use. While the Trail Glove is a great all-around shoe, my one complaint about it has to do with the design of the heel. Because the sole under the heel is slightly rounded, it tends to put pressure on my heel in an odd way when I stand or walk around in them, and sometimes it bugs me if running on a hard surface (not much of a problem on trails, which as the name implies are the intended terrain).

I’ve been in regular contact with the folks from Merrell for quite awhile now, and when asked about what I’d look for in a road version of the shoe, my immediate response was a flatter sole under the heel. That’s all that would really be needed to convert the Trail Glove into a solid, barefoot-style road shoe.

Back in September, I was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion in NYC with reps from Merrell, as well as a bunch of fellow bloggers, writers, and running experts. While at the meeting, Merrell gave each of us with a pair of the much anticipated Road Glove. I was pleased to see that they had indeed altered the sole construction, and it was significantly wider and flatter than that of the Trail Glove (see comparison below). They also filled in the area under the lateral midfoot a bit, which allows the entire outside length of the foot to easily contact the ground when standing. These two changes have resulted in a very solid minimalist road shoe.

Merrell Road Glove SoleMerrell Trail Glove Sole

Soles of the Merrell Road Glove (left) and Merrell Trail Glove (right). Note the wider, flatter heel of the Road Glove.

The Merrell Road Glove retains pretty much all that I liked about the Trail Glove. It’s lightweight (7.3 oz in my size 10), has a very roomy toebox, is extremely flexible, and provides excellent ground feel. The sole thickness is officially listed as 11mm in both the heel and forefoot, making it a zero drop, low-to-the-ground shoe (the Trail Glove is listed at 10mm, so maybe just a tad more cushion in the RG). A number of people I know have commented on the fact that the Road Glove seems to have a bit more contour under the arch than the Trail Glove – I would agree. Arch support doesn’t bother me, and I’d hesitate to call this true “support” as the area under the arch is cut out (i.e., the sole under the arch does not contact the ground – this is the gray region in the photo above). Rather, Merrell has gone with the phrase “Glove” to describe their barefoot shoes, and the midsole material curves up and hugs the arch closely to give a glove-like fit. Again, it does not bother me, and it’s possible that the midsole will develop some additional flex in this area as the shoes break in. But, if you are highly sensitive to material under your arch, this could be an issue.

Merrell Road Glove Lateral

Merrell Road Glove Medial

Internally, the integrated sockliner of the Road Glove is nicely constructed and is designed for sockless running. I still tend to get heel blisters when I attempt to run sockless in Merrell Barefoot shoes, and I would love to seem a version with a bit of softer cushioning ringing the inside of the ankle collar, particularly in the region behind the Achilles tendon. The somewhat stiff lip behind my Achilles tends to rub my skin and dig in a bit, though it seems to be a bit less of a problem in this shoe than it is in the Trail and Sonic Gloves.

As far as performance goes, the Road Glove is an excellent choice if you are looking for a barefoot-style minimalist shoe to use on hard surfaces. The thin sole allows for ground feel similar to what you would find in some of the more built up versions of the Vibram Fivefingers (e.g., Bikila, Trek, Komodo Sport), but it does so without having little pockets for each toe (which can be a plus or minus depending on your personal preferences). The tread on the Road Glove is also sufficient enough to make this shoe usable for many trail situations. There is no rock plate (it is a road shoe after all!), but the outsole is fairly rugged and it should handle rocks and debris fairly well (I have not done any serious trail running in them, just going based on a comparison with the Trail Glove sole).

Merrell Road Glove Top

I also find the Road Glove to be an excellent choice as a casual, zero drop shoe. If running in a thin-soled, zero drop shoe is something you want attempt, getting used to wearing such a shoe around and about is a good way to start. Some are a bit hesitant to do this with a shoe like the Fivefingers, but the Road Glove looks like a pretty normal, albeit very flat, low-profile shoe. I used them as my recovery shoe between legs of the Ragnar relay I ran a few weeks back, and they felt great on my fatigued feet.

I would offer one comment about aesthetics. The Trail Glove is a great looking shoe, but when I look at the Road Glove I can’t help but feel like something is missing. I think it might be that the sides of the shoe are just too plain. I almost feel like Merrell should be a bit more willing to splash their logo around -  the Merrell “M” placed on the outer middle panel might do the trick and also help them to gain a bit more brand recognition (my feeble design attempt below…).

Merrell Road Glove Lateral Logo

Conclusion

The Merrell Road Glove takes the successful design of its sibling, the Trail Glove, and adapts it for the roads. The result is an excellent minimalist road shoe, and a great option if all you are looking for is a zero drop shoe to use for casual wear. I’m quite impressed with the sole of this shoe, and actually wish that this sole was the base for some of the other Merrell Barefoot shoes that I have worn rather than that of the Trail Glove – it’s a much more comfortable sole for standing and walking on hard surfaces. While I don’t have plans of running a marathon in a barefoot-style shoe anytime soon, the Road Glove will get lots of use as the weather warms up and the snow clears off the roads and sidewalks. This one has earned a place in my regular rotation.

The Merrell Road Glove is available at Running Warehouse.

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Recent Posts By Category: Running Shoe Reviews | Running Gear Reviews | Running Science

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Qbakrause says:

    Greetz from Poland!

    This shoe looks great and I’d love to try it especially given that here where I live there is no actual chance to get it! Pete, you don’t seem to answer my e-mails, I wonder if you have received them?

    • Pete Larson says:

      Sorry about that – my email inbox fills incredibly quickly and I often fall way behind in responding, particularly the past few months due to the holidays and a bunch of traveling. I’m trying to slowly work my way through back emails.

      • Qbakrause says:

        If it helps, I will re-send them so you have them on the top.
        Keep up the good work, you have got many readers here in Poland who have been greatly inspired to get out of the “traditional running shoe” box and seek for alternative, myself among them.

  2. I am going to be in the market for a new pair of running shoes this Spring and I am thinking about getting the Merrell minimalist shoes – but I have yet to find much information about the women’s versions. Do you know of any female runners who have worn them? I am having trouble deciphering the differences between the different styles. Thanks!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Which shoes are you considering, my wife has a few of them.

      • Specifically the Barefoot Pace Glove and the Barefoot Lithe Glove. Do they have any other barefoot types running shoes? I don’t do much trail running (I’m still a beginner really, did my first 5K in September, working towards a 10K in the Fall) so I don’t think I need any special shoes just for rocky trails or anything.

  3. Great review. I’d written a while back about what I’d like to see changed in the Trail Glove (link to bridersplace.com… and it seems that Merrell must have read and applied everything I asked for… in a road shoe! And this one looks very capable for most of the trails I run. Looks like another winner!

  4. Simon Goodship says:

    Sorry. Pulled the trigger accidentally. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the Road Glove Pete. Looks like an interesting shoe. I agree with you though, the design needs a lot of work and I think it’s much more than the logo. Do you plan on putting some miles on these things anytime soon? 

  5. Great review, Pete! I ended up buying this shoe but believe I sized a bit too large. I’ve been running in Diesel casual shoes (zero drop heel, wide toe box, ultra thin sole) but felt ready to switch to a minimalist shoe as I finally begin increasing mileage and breathability becomes a factor. My question is: do you think extra toe room is needed in this shoe (traditional running shoe wisdom-big toe length? Or should I size like a street shoe? OK, sorry, two questions. Thanks for making great resources for us newbs.

  6. Mark G. Davis says:

    Since becoming a runner there’s not a day when I haven’t read or referenced your site for my training. I really think you have a top notch blog on the subject. It certainly has helped me for my shoe selection. Keep up the great work.

    I would love to win a pair or Merrell shoes. It’s on my list for my next shoe. Might buy the Bare Access for next marathon (Cleveland).

  7. Paul Joyce says:

    Nice review Pete. Without wanting to pre-empt a future review but how would you compare these to the NB Minimus MR00? I have been running in the MR00 for the last month and they have quickly become my favourite shoe. I am also a big fan of the Trail Glove so a road version has a lot of appeal. Cheers, Paul 

    • Pete Larson says:

      I ran seven miles of my recent Ragnar in the NB MR00′s – love the shoe. The Merrell Road Glove is a bit less cushioned than the NB, the latter is more comparable to the Merrell Bare Access.

  8. Jim Carey says:

    Pete — avidly reading this wondering if it is the winter roads minimalist shoe — but looks like it isn’t.  What is your preference for a “warm” minimalist shoe to wear in the winter conditions that have just arrived here in New England?

    • Pete Larson says:

      No, would not call this a winter shoe – not enough traction. I’ve found no shoes to be particularly “warm”, but once I’m running my feet tend to have little problem warming themselves. Normally I just use a trail shoe in winter conditions, something like the Saucony Peregrine, La Sportiva X Country, NB MT101.

  9. How does the Road Glove compare to the Altra Instinct, another zero drop, cushioned road shoe?

    • Pete Larson says:

      the Instinct is more cushioned and roomier, but also much less flexible. They’re quite different shoes that I would use for different purposes. I would find it easier to run long in the Instincts, but ground feel is less, so the Road Glove is better for shorter distance form work.

  10. Dan Jacobs says:

    I took the dive and bought these shoes. They’re better than the trail glove in a number of ways. As you and many have said, the OUTER sole is an upgrade over the trail gloves. I also find the upper to be an improvement. With the trail gloves, I tied and retied my shoes several times quite often to get the pressure balanced in the lacing, and I could never get the upper at the base of the laces open enough for my toes.

    However, my two runs thus far have not gone well thanks to the lateral arch support. My lateral arches are impacted by the thicker outer edge well before my heel makes full contact. In other words, I feel compression in the forefoot, then midfoot (lateral side), then heel at each landing. The trail gloves give the expected feedback–forefoot, heel, lateral edge (if that). Towards the end of my 2nd run in road gloves, I started getting significant pain in my right lateral arch, though it dissipated. Throughout both runs, I’ve felt like I have thick wad of cotton balled up under my arches.

    So two questions for you or others putting these shoes to work:

    (1) If (and only if) you experienced lateral arch pressure and pain, did this effect go away after some break-in period?

    or…

    (2) Any hope in removing excess material from the bottom of the arch to alleviate the midsole compression? I’m thinking I could scrape away the lateral arch until it’s thin enough to allow it to flex flat comfortably, and that surface doesn’t generally wear for me.

    If I can get the lateral arch comfortable, this shoe fits everything I’m looking for.

    • Dan,
      I ran into the same thing. I was aware of a possible issue from various reviews. I wore them around the house and they were great. I felt nothing in the arch area so I thought I was fine. I went for a run and the further I got the more pain I felt, but only in my right arch. I don’t know what to do either. I’m hoping it goes away as I break them in or I wasted  $100.00.

      • I am no longer feeling any pain.  These shoes feels great and I am loving running in them.

      • Pete Larson says:

        Interesting – I notice the medial arch, but not the lateral. Amazing how we are all sensitive to different things…
        Sent from my iPad

  11. Peter Alford says:

    I’ve loved mine so far. I was really concerned about the arch in the beginning, but it has since become a moot point. 

    I do disagree about the look. The downside is Merrell has been conservative in their color choices, but I really like how my green/black ones look. There is a nice simplicity to it: it’s clean, and not gimmicky. Perhaps they need to trend a bit more to the neon orange look that they just unveiled with the Sonic Glove. But adding more just adds weight and could reduce durability and flexibility. I love a mean looking shoe, but my concern first and foremost will always be performance.

  12. So were the giveaway winners ever announced?

  13. I found the Merrell Road Glove to have slight arch support – along the lateral arch, not medial arch as you described. I discussed further here: link to runnersworld.com

  14. Thanks for the giveaway. Love the blog.

  15. Thanks for the review. I’m interested in this shoe but I’m a bit worried about how the arch is designed. The sole seems to be a lot thinner under the arch than anywhere else, and this type of soles tend to make my feet pronate more than they would barefoot. Have you noticed this kind of effect? For example, the Vivo Neos places my feet in a very pronated position even when standing in them, and they have a similar, thinner sole under the arch. That’s why I don’t like the shoes very much and don’t think they feel natural.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Have not noticed this, particularly in such flat shoes. I find that flat shoes actually tend to allow me to better control my feet.

      • Flat shoes, yes, they allow better control for me to. But the Neo doesn’t feel flat on my feet, since the lateral part of the sole is thicker than the medial, and makes my feet lean inward. I’d prefer the sole of a minimal shoe to be evenly thick. But I guess this is an issue about arch height and lenght, since many people don’t feel the same.

  16. Lawrence says:

     

    I have been running in Merrell Trail Gloves for over a year now. I was
    previously running in N.B. 101’s, decent shoes, but nothing like the
    T.G. I am a 61 year old runner who has won many master’s races, and I
    had been looking for shoes that were like tough track flats. I was happy
    to find these, and I love them more with each outing. Let me count the
    ways: 1. Great outsole. Very tough Vibram. After one year of regular
    running on trails and roads, they still have many miles left. The sole
    has just enough thickness to protect the foot against small stones, ice,
    etc. The forefoot plate has no marked effect on flexibility, but gives a
    little extra protection against stone bruises. You can still barrel
    down that rocky trail. 2. Fabulous, unique lacing system that uses loops
    to draw the outsole up around the foot. There is a flexible section of
    the outsole that allows this. Some have suggested that, because they
    feel the instep drawn up against the foot that this show provides
    “support”. Nonsense. There is no more support in this shoe than there is
    in a snug sock. I was at first mildly annoyed at the time it takes to
    put on and take off this shoe. Now I am happy to take the time, in the
    knowledge that, once on, the unique lacing allows a very snug midfoot
    fit, while still allowing the forefoot to have natural spread. Running
    on uneven surfaces is a joy, as there is absolutely no sliding around of
    the foot in the T.G. 3. I love the narrow midfoot part of the outsole
    and the rounded heel. I run on what I call in my running workshops the
    “dogfoot”, so the heels of my shoes never touch the ground, except for
    the occasional rock that pokes up to meet them (so the Vibram protection
    is worth having). 4. The uppers are very durable, flexible, and
    breathable (maybe a little too breathable for those sub-zero winter
    days, but I can live with that). The shoes are washable, although all I
    have needed to do is to sponge them off occasionally. 5. The fit is
    fabulous, at least on my particular foot. They are made to wear
    barefoot, with a nice, smooth, antibacterial lining, but I pretty much
    always wear a thin sock with them. I can wear them tighter than I have
    ever worn running shoes, with almost no space between the tips of my
    toes and the shoes, because the foot doesn’t slide around in T.G.s. That
    about does it. One thing I’d like to see from Merrell is some kind of
    barefoot winter boot. I have 2 pair of Tough Gloves that I wear at work
    and at home. I bought a barefoot boot from another manufacturer, but it
    isn’t the same fit or feel. http://www.alexandertechnique-

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks for the detailed write-up! Just to be clear, I think you are talking about the Trail Glove, not the Road Glove, correct? The latter was the shoe discussed in the post. I agree that the Trail Glove is a great shoe.

  17. Simon Goodship says:

    Nice 

  18. Great review Pete. I hope I get to try out these shoes.

  19. Peter, would you run a full marathon on these? or the Minimus Road (4mm)? 

  20. Joel Martin says:

    Thanks for the review!  I was just checking these out as I’ve been running in the Trail Glove since last spring.  I totally agree with the heel problem for walking around.  Spent the summer wearing them around China and on long days of walking, the heel was uncomfortable.  Hope to get my hands on a pair of the Road Gloves!  Unfortunately, my wife isn’t as easily convinced that I “need” a new pair of shoes.  How do you get away with that?!

    • Pete Larson says:

      I get away with it at great risk. Fortunately most of mine are media samples, but I do try to give away shoes that I don’t wear anymore.

  21. Phillip Gibb says:

    I have never run in a Merrell, however I am looking to replace my Salomon Crossmax with a more minimalistic trail shoe; this one looks like a very good option

  22. David Lynch says:

    Have about 20 miles on the Road Glove (RG), and comparing them to the Trail Glove (TG), which I have worn for a year, the RG does have more arch-feel than the TG. As you mention, the arch is not supportive. I think the RG is roomier than the TG (it seems to have a slightly higher upper and roomier forefoot) and maybe the arch contour is larger to help lock your mid-foot in place to keep you from sliding around in the shoe. I think neutral, normal-arch, forefoot runners will like it best.  

  23. Kimberlie says:

    Thanks for the giveaway and the review!

  24. Pete,
    Will you be doing a comparison between the Merrell Road Glove and the NB MR00 and how does the Merrell Bare Access fit in the equation?  I’m going to buy one but I need some guidance.
    Thank

    • Pete Larson says:

      Yep, will review both soon I hope. Hard to run in them right now though as they are road shoes with no tread and it’s messy up here in NH with slush and snow.

      • Felipe Fassy says:

        Waiting for these reviews too!  :)
         
        Pete, how do you measure the cushioning and flexibility of a shoe to define if it is better for short/long runs?
         
        What would be a better combination for both distances? Long run is a half marathon or more, is that right?
         
        Thanks

        • Pete Larson says:

          Yeah, I’d say a long run is 10+ miles for me. I’ve run up to 15 in Vibram Fivefingers, but I need to run in that kind of shoe regularly and for decent mileage to be able to do that. Because of my reviewing, I tend to go through cycles in how much ultraminimal running I do. As for measuring cushioning, I’d say it’s mostly an individual thing, but I’d call a shoe with maybe 10mm or more of midsole foam to be cushioned (this does not include the thickness of outsole rubber which is included in measures of stack height). That’s a very rough measure though.

  25. Pete,

    if you compare the Road Glove with the Trail Glove, how are the sizes? Do you have the same size in both?

    I absolutely love my Trail Gloves and have been waiting for the Road Gloves since they were announced. But they don’t seem to be available i Europe yet, so i’m looking into ordering them from the U.S.

    • Dan Jacobs says:

      I typically wear size 10.5 in terms of shoe length, but went with size 11 for both Trail and Road Gloves. I find the Road Glove to be roomier than the Trail at the same size, particularly in the upper at the forefoot. Overall, the Road seems roomier and is easier to slip on. For some, it may be comfortable to drop a half size going from Trail to Road. 

  26. Pete, 
    Can you tell me the difference between the Road Glove and the Bare Access?

    Thanks,
    J.Mack

  27. Merrell Barefoot says:

    As with any new shoe, there is a “get to know you period” especially when it comes to running, but, for everything from jumping rope to box jumping to hiking outside with the kids, I can honestly tell you these shoes feel fantastic.

  28. Hey Peter, I really appreciate your thorough review. I started running in the Merrell Road Gloves January of 2013. After looking around (and hearing so much about Vibrams) I decided to give 5-fingers a try. I’ve loved them and completed several races in them, including a full marathon.

    I’ve now been running in the five-fingers for over a year. Although I love the way they feel (barefoot), I am beginning to have knee issues. Namely, runner’s knee. I have a marathon coming up in 4 weeks and I’m now considering switching back to my Road Gloves. At least they will offer a bit more cushion and perhaps alleviate this pain for now.

    P.S. I love your design attempt. Seriously, they should adopt that for future models!

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