Over the past few years an evolution has occurred in shoes, a more minimalist design in an attempt to make the wearers movements more natural. Vibram five fingers and Vivo barefoot pushed this trend forward but now most shoe companies have minimalist designs, most recently Merrell added their own line.
Merrell has released a few styles this spring that are very quickly surging into the publics eye and becoming a quick favorite to minimalist enthusiasts. On this blog we have talked about several minimalist shoes, their benefits, their downfalls, and our general opinions about them. In this post Andy and John compare the Merrell Barefoot shoes and give their feedback about them.
First I would like to say that I love my flip flops. I'm new to Florida and love the fact that I can wear my flip flops everyday and be comfortable.However, there are always times when you can't rock the flips and for that reason I decided to try Merrell Barefoot shoes.
Now that I've had the Merrell Tough Glove shoes (brown leather ones) for a short time I can understand the excitement. I am not a barefoot runner. I don't preach about the fantastic benefits of minimalist shoes. I just wear shoes when I have to cover my feet.
The first day I wore the Tough Glove shoes my feet hurt. I suppose my feet have to get used to a new way to walk as I don’t regularly wear minimalist shoes. I do have to say that after a few days my feet got stronger and the shoes felt better. One great benefit is how light they are. I was accustomed to wearing thick soled shoes that weigh a ton, so the Merrell Tough Glove felt like I was wearing nothing on my feet, akin to flip flops.
Some of the things I didn't like was how it made me walk funny. I had to land on the middle of my foot then the o' so familiar heal strike. The leather is also bit warm, and the sole is only 4mm thick so you really feel everything you step on.
Overall, I have to say that I like them. I feel quicker and lighter on my toes. The walking style only takes a short time to get used to and I've even had thoughts of running. I find that I'm wearing my Merrell Tough Glove more and more often but Istill love my flip flops. The Tough Glove proves to be a good optionfor when I can't rock the flips.
Let me say I am a barefoot/minimalist runner and I do promote this style of walking, running, jogging or any other mode of "natural" movement to anyone that asks me about my strange footwear. Now keeping that in mind, I do have a favorable opinion of the Merrell barefoot shoes. I have the tough glove and have tried on a few of their other styles. It's interesting seeing different brands try to appeal to the minimalist crowd and how far left they go when they design the shoe. I feel like Merrell did a great job of being right down the middle.
The sole of the shoe is actually very thin, which is surprising for how it looks. It has a nice solid look to the top of the shoe, in comparison to other designs designs. It looks like a normal shoe. Most crazy minimal shoes, like Vibram five fingers, also have a minimal top design with crazy colors, the Merrell Tough Glove shoes could be worn to a job interview.
When looking at the shoe for the first time people mostly notice the narrow mid foot and wider toe box. This is actually a great design for a minimalist shoe. Most of the flex when you run or walk occurs in the toes as you push down and off of the ground. The midfoot doesn't need lots of room or support because your leg, from ankle to hip create a suspension system taking away the shock of hitting the ground in a minimal sole. The toe box in the Merrell enables your foot to flex out and help you push off the ground. For people who have bigger volume feet they may find the mid foot area too tight because it is so narrow.
Comfort wise this is one of the few minimalist shoesthat actually keeps me in check, making sure I don’theal strike. The Merrell shoes has no cushion in the heal so if I heel strike in our urban environment my heel hurts. Very few shoes are this drastic in reducing the cushion. The only two that I've experienced that do this are Vibram Five Fingers and Merrell minimalist shoes.
Overall, I really enjoy wearing these shoes, especially the tough glove. Few companies have casual minimalist shoes. Merrell has done a great job of creating a whole line that many different people can enjoy.