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Preview of late 2011-early 2012 Minimalist Shoes from Merrell, Vivobarefoot, Inov-8, GoLite, Altra, and Teva (via Damien Tougas at Toesalad)

Damien Tougas from Toesalad recently attended the Outdoor Retailers Show in Utah, and posted several videos highlighting new shoe offerings set to be released at the more minimalist end of the running shoe spectrum. Below are a selection from Merrell, Vivobarefoot, Inov-8, GoLite, Altra, and Teva. To see videos from other manufacturers, check out Damien’s YouTube channel or visit Toesalad.

Merrell – Gotta say, the Merrell Road Glove might be the shoe I’m looking forward to trying more than any other right now. I can vouch that Merrell is true to their word when they say they solicited feedback from the minimalist community when they were designing the shoe, and I’m really excited to see that the shoe will come in under 5oz and will have a flat outsole.

VivoBarefoot – I’m a big fan of VivoBarefoot shoes. I’ve been wearing the Ultra (which I love), Achilles, and Neo (reviews on the latter two coming soon) quite a bit this summer, and the VivoBarefoot Aqua is my go to work shoe. Most excited about the the Neo Trail and the kid’s Ultra. The hiking boot looks like an interesting option for winter.

Inov-8 – I just reviewed my first pair of Inov-8 shoes (the Road-X 233) and was fairly well impressed. Buzz around their zero-drop 2012 releases has been very positive from folks who have seen them, and they continue to do a great job providing a wide spectrum of shoe options.

GoLite – These guys are headquartered just down the road from me in NH, so I’ve been watching their stuff for awhile. In fact, one of the first non-Vibram zero-drop shoes I ran in was a GoLite shoe. Unfortunately, GoLite’s shoes have tended to be stiff and heavy, but that looks to be changing a bit with their 2012 line.

Altra – not much new here from Altra, but they indicate that the Adam and Eve will be released soon.

Teva – No running shoes here, but what you wear the rest of the day can be just as important as what you wear on your runs. I’ll be giving the Zilch a trial myself soon (I’ve worn Teva sandals during the summer for a long, long time), but even more excited about the kid’s version due to come out in 2012. Love seeing more flat options for kids!

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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 biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. I too am very interested in the vivobarefoot hiking boot.  It looked like the one they showed was all black.  I’m a police officer and I’ve been looking for a zero drop minimalist boot that complies with our policy.  So far this is the first I have seen.  They would make a killing if they marketed them in the colors which complied with military and police forces.  Anyone see or hear any more info on when they will come out?  Google has nothing that I’ve found. Cheers.

  2. Alex Beecher says:

    I’m thrilled to see the flatter sole on the road glove. The uneven bottom is the one thing that’s kept me from using the trail glove on pavement as much as a might otherwise. It also makes it a little uncomfortable for daily walking around in. 

  3. Minimalist trail shoes are built with excessively large lugs. What do the manufacturers think people are running up their shoes? For me a few very small lugs will be good in pretty much ant trail condition save, mud. 

    Another problem with excessively large lugs is they create pressure points were, if the sole was flat there would not be any.

    • Damien @ Outsideways says:

      I, among others, am VERY excited to see minimalist shoes with big lugs. The majority of minimalist trail shoes out there are for just that: hard-packed trails. Those shoes tend to not work so well when off-trail on loose soil, talus/scree, mud, etc.

      Even on the trails… In the western US/Rockies, a lot of the trails I have seen are hard, compacted rock/dirt that is often dry. Smaller lugs are fine in those conditions. Out here in the east, the trails are often soil/dirt that can often be soft, not to mention the fact they also are often damp or wet. Bigger lugs are a huge benefit in those conditions.

    • Pete Larson says:

      For most of the conditions that I run in I don’t need big lugs, but come winter they will be appreciated on slush, snow, and crusty ice. I have a pair of La Sportiva X Country shoes that I haven’t worn yet because I haven’t had the need for the large lugs, but I’m sure they’ll see regular use in a few months!
      Sent from my iPad

      • I’d like someone (Merrell ?) to make a shoe with the Trail Glove / Sonic Glove fit on the Inov8 Baregrip sole.  I really like the Baregrip sole, but the shoe is way to narrow, pointy and straight in the toebox.  Trail Glove fits great, but traction is nothing special and not good in mud.

        • Damien @ Outsideways says:

          I think that shoe has already been designed, but not yet released: The Breatho Trail from VIVOBAREFOOT (see the video). This should be out in spring 2012.

          Also, from what I hear, I think we can expect something from Inov-8 built on their anatomical last but with a more aggressive sole. I have no idea when though…

  4. Whotrustedus says:

    I still love my Trail Gloves, even on pavement and am looking forward to more choices from Merrell.   I appreciate their seriousness in this category.

  5. The engineer in me had to laugh at the GoLite “coefficient of friction” stuff. Um… how do I kindly say “abjectly false”? The guy was talking out of his backside. Anyway… Yeah, really excited about the new Merrells, and really want to see Altra get the Lone Peak to market.

    • Pete Larson says:

      But it sounds really technical, doesn’t it :)

      If there is one thing you can always count on from running shoe makers, it’s that they never let scientific reality get in the way of marketing.

    • Robert Osfield says:

      I watched the GoLite video and didn’t find his discussion of “coefficient of friction” inappropriate or misleading.  All shoes will utilise stiction (static friction threashod) and friction (when the shoes is moving relative to the ground), different treads and sole compounds will provide different levels of stiction and friction according to the type of ground/mousture.  

      A coefficient of friction is simply a non dimensional cooefficient, and is a reasonable to measure relative grip qualities of different soles. 

      I don’t quite see what your objection would be.  Sure it would have been better for him to go into stiction and friction, and the role of different terrains, and how soft ground affects the results.

      Personally I don’t have an objects to lots of small lugs rather a smaller number of large lugs for most terrain I run on.  If on this terarin GoLite have found small lugs works best then great.  However, I’d not take their word for it.. I’d want to take them out on a trail.  I’d also expect on really muddy ground that small lugs just won’t cut down through the surface deep enough to give good grip, so I suspect that won’t cut it for here in the UK when fell racing.

  6. George Lin says:

    From the videos, I’m looking forwards to the Inov8 Bare X 180 and the Merrell, although I really do hope that Merrell does actually employ a flat outsole this time.  The toe spring on the Trail Glove is pretty annoying.  Having a normal looking casual shoe will also be very welcome.

  7. nice post!

  8. business card magnets says:

    I’ve run many miles  and I think it really works great on roads and trails.  One day I’d love to corner some shoe designers and ask them about
    “male” vs “female” shoes. Are they built differently, or is it all
    about aesthetics and marketing.

  9. Pete,
    Do you think the Merrell Road Glove will have more cushioning than the Trail Glove, such as the Saucony Hattori?  I am very interested in the Road Glove and the INOV-8 Bare X 180.

  10. Looking forward to the new Golites, i hope they have less arch support than Amp Lite and Flash Lite. Inov-8 have many models with the same cushioning system. I think they should make a new model with cushioning with small or zero heel to toe drop like the New Balance 110 or the Altra Lone Peak.

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