Merrell Barefoot Road Glove
If you run equal amounts of road and trail mileage and can only purchase a single pair of minimalist shoes, the Road Glove should be at the top of your list.
Last year Merrell burst on the minimalist scene with a nearly-complete line of minimalist footwear: men’s and women’s trail running models, a hiking/ general off-road model, a dressy / casual model, and even a kids’ model, all of which all the right features for minimalist fans. Conspicuously absent was a dedicated road running model – a void that Merrell fills this spring with the Road Glove.
Merrell’s Road Glove has a ton of features that minimalist fans will appreciate. It’s a true “zero-drop” shoe with the same low-profile (10mm) standing height in both heel and forefoot. Its material construction is completely flexible and allows full range of motion throughout the foot and ankle. It weighs in at a relatively lightweight 6.6oz, placing it within an ounce of Vibram’s minimalist-standard FiveFingers models.
Uppers on the Road Glove consist of breathable mesh with some synthetic overlays to aid in lateral stability. There’s a thin rubber bumper at the front for protection against stubbed toes. The mesh is somewhat thicker than other minimalist road options but is quick to dry and drain after water immersion.
Like other Merrell Barefoot shoes, the Road Glove is designed to be worn without socks. Both the sockliner and the interior surface of the upper feel smooth against the skin, and the seamless footbed effectively keeps the foot in place while providing soft comfort as well.
Last year’s Trail Glove had a somewhat narrow fit, especially in the midfoot region, and Merrell has corrected that on the Road Gloves, which are noticeably wider. The lacing system is a standard midline cross-lace setup, which could be problematic if you like to really customize your lacing tension.
The Road Glove’s Vibram TC-1 rubber outsole is ostensibly made for asphalt, but it’s more than adequate to take on the majority of trails you encounter. Traction on roads or all-weather track surfaces is rock solid, and the tread pattern grips gravel roads and groomed trails nicely as well.
It’s not quite as rugged as a true trail trainer, and not quite as svelte as road racers, but the Merrell’s Road Glove stakes out an attractive middle ground for an all-purpose shoe equally suited for pavement or dirt.
How We Tested It
Approximately 100 miles of running on asphalt, fire roads, and groomed trails by a single tester in Monterey County, CA. Terrain featured moderately steep (15-20% grade) climbs/descents and mildly wet/muddy conditions.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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Gear Institute Rating (Total Score)
- Shoe Type: Barefoot Minimalist