I moved to barefoot or minimalist shoes two years ago with a pair of Merrell ** Gloves. Sorry, I can not remember the name but from the first days I wore them I began to move all my shoes to barefoot style. I wore out my Merrell Reach Gloves about two months ago and replaced them with the Cypher Gloves. These shoes have been worn for everyday casual wear around town, the office and the occasional hike. For hikes I do try to use my Vivobarefoot Breatho Trail runners.
For fans of the Merrell Glove series of shoes you will find the fit consistent with the rest of the line. That is plenty of room in the toe box with a snug glove like fit from the mid foot back.
The uppers are mostly leather but provide plenty of ventilation for casual wear. I believe Merrell’s intent here was too provide a stylish barefoot shoe that can be worn at anytime and anywhere but in the most formal gatherings. I believe they succeeded in this goal. I find the upper to be attractive and unique as well as functional in preventing my foot from over heating with modest activity.
Merrell uses Vibram soles on this and many of their barefoot line of shoes. I find there is a good amount of tread on the sole of these shoes (3 mm) and would not hesitate to wear them hiking although that is not why I purchased them. There are obviously better choices out there for this purpose, IE. Trail Gloves. Again, I believe these shoes were designed for everyday wear and find the tread and traction exceptional in this area.
Speaking of soles, I know this is a bit silly but one of the things I find entertaining about Merrell Glove shoes with the Vibram sole is that they leave foot prints appearing like someone just walked through in bare feet when walking from a damp to dry surface.
I find the 6mm sole thickness is a good balance between minimalist and providing protection for the feet. As with all barefoot shoes you will feel much more of the surface you are walking on but they do provide enough protection to prevent sore feet. If you are walking on an extremely rough uneven surface (large stones) or step on a protruding stone you will feel it but that is the nature of barefoot shoes.
Now that we are into June shorts season is upon us. I have worn these shoes multiple times without socks. I found the shoe to be comfortable with no rough areas or seams that will irritate the foot after a day of walking. I have worn them multiple days without socks at the time this was written.
My only complaint with the shoe is that they seem to untie themselves frequently. This may be the fault of the user as I typically slip them on without untying and tying the shoe.
As a frugal person I find them to be pricey at $120 MSRP. At the same time the are right inline with other barefoot shoes. As you can tell, the price is not enough to cause me to abandon the minimalist shoe category. In fact I fear the market will not be large enough for the limited shoe companies to keep producing them.
In summery, these shoes fit my needs perfectly in providing a stylish everyday shoe in the barefoot category.
- Pig and cow leather uppers with mesh overlays
- Breathable mesh lining
- M-Select FRESH® naturally prevents odor
- Integrated footbed
- 0mm Drop/6mm Cush
- 3mm lug depth
- Vibram® outsole
- Weight: 12 oz
Update: December 2014 and I’m still loving these shoes. It also seems Merrell has discontinued this shoe, buy them while you can.
Also, read about my experience backpacking in barefoot shoes here.
Disclaimer: Jeff purchased these shoes with his own funds and was not under any obligation to review them. The above comments are his opinion after owning the shoes for two months.