Merrell has been putting a lot of effort lately into producing and marketing minimalist shoes for women, with multiple offerings in the running, training and casual categories. Most recently, they initiated a campaign called “Pretty Strong” with an associated website geared toward encouraging women to experience minimalist footwear. Below is a video that they produced for the site that features my friend Emily (who works for Merrell, and is a full-time minimalist runner herself):
For obvious reasons, I am somewhat limited in my ability to review women’s shoes. My wife does run in the Merrell Lithe and Pace Gloves, but she’s not big on reviews, so I’ve not bugged her about writing one. Instead, I’ve recruited my dailymile friend Melodie to do a guest review of two female-specific shoes from the Merrell Barefoot line. I arranged for Merrell to send Melodie pairs of the Pace and Dash Gloves (disclosure: they were provided free of charge by Merrell), and what follows is her review.
Melodie’s Review of the Merrell Pace and Dash Gloves
For this review I will be covering two similar shoes designed for different purposes. The Merrell Pace is a barefoot-style trail shoe, while the Dash is a barefoot-style road shoe. Both are zero drop with minimal cushioning, and both have a protective and durable Vibram-rubber sole. Both also are constructed with a fairly wide forefoot (though I found the sizing of the two shoes a bit different – see below), and have a non-removable footbed.
Here are my initial thoughts. I love how both shoes feel when I lace them up. When I pull the laces they form to the curves of my feet. Though they are barefoot-style shoes, they hug my arches and feel like the hugging support of a standard running shoe, which is a good thing for me. Aesthetically, I absolutely adore the colors and design of both the Pace and Dash – I wouldn’t change a thing.
Next are more specific thoughts tailored to each individual shoe:
Merrell Pace Glove
The Pace Glove is a barefoot trail shoe. I found this shoe a bit small for my liking as the the toe box was pressed against the tips of my outer toes. I was able to wear them, but I would certainly go up at least a half size compared to my other shoes.
Since this is a trail shoe there is more a prominent tread. Just along the tip of the toe line it is raised slightly more than the rest of the tread. This was most noticeable to me when I took the shoe out for the first time, running pavement to get to the trail. It didn’t feel bad, it just felt different. Personally, I do not find the Pace Glove to be comfortable on pavement. When I did run pavement in them, it was only to get to trail (Runblogger’s Note: I feel the same way about the men’s Trail Glove – great shoe on trails, not so great on hard surfaces because of the hard, rounded heel).
The shoe felt fine on soft surfaces, and the tread gripped the ground nicely when running in grass, or on dirt paths. I tend to run more forefoot in a glove-like shoe like this one, so push-off from the toe was easy, with no slipping. Even though there is a thicker Vibram sole, like many barefoot shoes, you always have to be mindful of rocks as you will certainly feel the bigger and sharper stones if you step on them.
Below are some of the features of the Pace Glove as described by Merrell:
• 4mm compression molded EVA midsole
• 1mm forefoot shock absorption plate
• 0mm ball to heel drop
• Vibram® Trail glove Sole/ Rubber Compound TC-1
• Women’s Weight: 4.7 oz
Merrell Dash Glove
The Dash Glove is a barefoot-style road shoe, designed for pavement. This shoe is true to size and fits like a glove. I love this shoe. I do run more on pavement than gravel or trail, so this shoe was an all-around good fit for me.
The thicker Vibram sole of the Pace Glove made running on pavement comfortable. I didn’t have any problems with the lack of cushion, and have been able to run up to 13 miles in them with no rubbing or hot spots. The shoes were fun for me, and I enjoyed putting them on as a treat for my running feet.
As a side note, after running too many days in a row in them my ankle did begin to really hurt. Now, I don’t blame this on the shoe, so much as I think you have to be smart in barefoot shoes and build your strength and take breaks every now and then. I am a minimal shoe runner, so it was easy for me to run 13 miles in them and for consecutive days with no pain. However, I normally run in 4 mm drop or less. So, for me, I will keep the runs to 5 miles and under and proudly wear them about. I love, love these shoes, and how fun they make running and working out. They are my little running shoe treat!
Below are some of the features of the Dash Glove as described by Merrell:
• 0mm ball to heel drop
• 2.0 mm sole lug depth
• Vibram® Dash Glove Sole /TC1 rubber
• Weight: 5.8 ozs
Finally, after reading Melodie’s reviews, I had a few additional questions that I ran by her – here are her responses:
1. Have you used these shoes for purposes other than running?
I have been able to wear both shoes to fitness boot camp classes with success, and on treadmill runs as well. Both are very versatile for general fitness use.
2. Some women have complained about the elasticized ankle collar digging into the skin behind the Achilles – any issues with this for you?
Never an issue. Not even a little. The shoes were very comfortable. The only problem I had was with the trail shoe rubbing against my toes. The toe box is shaped differently on the trail shoe vs. the Dash.
3. Did you wear socks with them, or go sockless. Any comments on this?
I did go sockless in the shoes, to be true to the design. I did this off and on, for running and workout classes. I had no rubbing or discomfort. However, I do prefer to wear a sock, so I did wear a thin sock with the shoes as well. Both ways were comfortable.
4. Any comments on durability?
The durability of the shoes seems to be very good. I still have both shoes in my rotation and have put some good miles and time in them. The soles have held up nicely without any hard wear showing through yet. The actual shoe itself still looks new to me, and I typically go hard on my shoes.
You can view the entire women’s Merrell Barefoot collection at the Merrell website.