I've have had the opportunity to try out the new Merrell Road Glove over the past few months.
This doesn't just mean I put them on my feet and paraded around like a orange footed elf. I've been running consistently, so I was able to get some mileage on these, while having an immediate comparison point to my typical footwear only a day after.
I took this shoe through the gambit of terrain: from thick mud covered trails to the road.
Below are my thoughts on the shoe from the perspective that the less shoe, the better.
Note: These shoes were provided by Merrell at no cost to me, however there were no stipulations regarding what I can, and can not discuss.
When I first put the shoes on (without socks), it felt like putting on a soft slipper. The seams were non-existant and the fabric felt magical. I spent a month or so just using them as a winter shoe for shopping, driving, and walking in non-snowy areas.
The ground feel and fit was much better than the Merrell Trail Glove and the extra warmth captured made them much more enjoyable than a sandal or VFF. These are great pair of "kicking it around town" shoes.
Since the shoe name has "road" in it, I figured what better place than to take them out on the trails. This, after all, is the only place I'd consider seriously running consistently in a more "built" shoe.
My runs through the technical trails were pleasantly surprising. The shoe has significantly better ground feel than the Trail Glove, while providing just enough protection that my misstep onto a rock provided minimal pain and no bruising. This is exactly what I'm looking for, feedback from my mistake, but still protection against it being something that keeps me off my feet for a few days.
I ran through very hilly areas with embedded rocks, very muddy areas (up to 6" of mud), and through hard packed snow with minimal slippage and consistent warmth. The shoe stayed out of the way and made me forget I was wearing it, for which I can provide no higher praise.
After the runs, I had no residual pain tied to the shoes use. This tells me that the shoe did not alter my stride in any meaningful way.
Despite not having any intention of using these on the roads (I'll stick with something with a thinner and more flexible sole), I did take two 1 hour runs in the shoes on paved roads and sidewalks.
The result of these two expeditions was an open sore on the insides of both feet just below the ankle. As the shoes bent (I was running much faster than on the trails), they rubbed a small section of my foot raw.
To be fair, this may have been from having the shoes tied too tight, or my skin not being used to running consistently in shoes. If you do decide to wear these on the roads, please be wary of this though.
While running, the shoe felt larger and more cumbersome than I'm used to, but it was light enough that it did not feel like weights on my feet.
If you're interested in utilizing this shoe for what it was intended, you're better off reading the reviews of others linked below.
Stubborn and Stupid Product Naming
Nothing to do with the product itself, but once again I have to question Merrell officially naming the product "Barefoot Run Road Glove". Anyone who thinks that wearing a shoe, any type of shoe, has anything to do with barefoot running is confused, or worse, trying to confuse folks.
Why do companies insist on including "barefoot" in the name of the product? Is it just for SEO purposes, so when someone searches for barefoot running shoes (an oxymoron if I've ever heard one), their products show up in the front?
Merrell isn't the only one doing this, but I was hoping they would meet a higher standard.
Less is more for any shoe I wear. I want something that serves a specific purpose, be it warmth, slight protection, water proof, etc.
These shoes are enjoyable for cold weather everyday wear and trail running. This is the shoe that I was hoping the Merrell Trail Glove would be.
I don't need, nor find any benefit to trail lugs on the sole of a shoe. What I want is something which will add a little bit more protection from rocks and low cut saplings. This shoe provides exactly what I'm looking for and I look forward to exploring its use further on the trails.
This is probably the only review you'll find tell you that this is a wonderful trail shoe -- so use your own judgement on what you're seeking out of the product.
What others have to say
For the Spec Hungry
UPPER / LINING • Synthetic leather and breathable air mesh upper • TPU overlays secure the foot • Fused rubber toe bumper provides durability and protection • Synthetic leather rear foot sling provides ultimate stability • Internal support construction secures the midfoot for optimal fit and support • Integrated microfiber footbed treated with aegis antimicrobial solution resists odor MIDSOLE / OUTSOLE • 4 mm compression molded EVA midsole cushions • 0mm ball to heel drop • Vibram Road Glove Sole / TC-1 Rubber