In my opinion, the best merrell zero drop running shoe is the Vapor Glove Trail Running Shoe, which is best known for its flexible, thin, yet strong Vibram rubber outsole, making it a great choice for a mix of trail and road running. It is also one of the few barefoot-inspired running shoes that equate to the Vibram FiveFingers.
The Vapor Glove is an excellent barefoot shoe for forefoot running because, like the Vibrams, it is very barefoot-like — you can feel everything under your feet, making you more aware of your foot strike while running.
Ultimately, the Vapor Glove is the most minimal Merrell shoe and the therapeutic benefit of the Vapor Glove lies in it’s capacity to provide good ground feel.
How Do They Compare to Other Barefoot Running Shoes
The Merrell Vapor Glove feels very similar to the Vivobarefoot Evo and many of the barefoot shoes by Vibram, particularly the KSO’s. The Vapor Glove is also more breathable than the Merrell Pace Glove and they are not bulky like other minimalist trail running shoes from Merrell.
What They Are Good For
The Merrell Vapor Glove’s are good for road running, trail running, Tough Mudder/Spartan races, triathlons, weight-lifting, walking and high agility sports such as tennis.
Other notable features of the Merrell Vapor Glove:
- 0 drop (i.e. no under-heel cushioning), aiding in a better forefoot strike landing
- Thin, breathable upper mesh, makes you feel like you are wearing a sock
- They will help you develop strong feet and calves
- No cushioning, no arch support; supremely barefoot-like
- Inside lining soft and smooth; can be worn with or without socks
- Handles very well when wet
- Flexible and stretchy; can be rolled up into a ball, great for packing
- No additional underfoot padding –just the 4 mm Vibram outsole
- Outsole provides good grip, but not overly aggressive traction
- Wide toe-box, allowing toes to splay and flex
If you don’t like the fit of the Vibram FiveFingers, the smartest choice is the Vapor Glove because they fit comfortable with wiggle-room in the toe-box.
Lastly, the Vapor Glove’s run a bit large, so it would be wise to order a ½ or full size smaller than your normal size.
Be sure to check my other reviews on barefoot running shoes for forefoot running.
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BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.