The Merrell Vapor Glove is the shoe that every active adult with feet should wear at least some of the time. I'll explain why that is in a moment. But, before your eyes go glossy over another one of my post modern shoe reviews, let me disclose an important observation: The Vapor Glove fits large.
Here is the Merrell commercial for the Vapor Glove with plenty of useful shoe specs and lingo.
So, please try the shoe on in at least two sizes before deciding which size to buy. I wear a roomy US size 12 in most Merrell men's shoes. But, the Vapor Glove's unbelievably flexible upper makes that 12 feel even bigger. So, I could easily wear a size 11.5 instead. Easily.
This sizing discrepancy is interesting, actually, because I compared the sole of the Vapor Glove to that of the Road Glove 2. And, they both appear to share the same measurements in length and width. (Didn't actually measure) So, I would say that the extra-minimal structure in the Vapor Glove's upper allows its roominess to shine through more than the Road Glove 2. (Just a guess)
Anyway, regardless of my sample pair's largeness, I'm still able to secure the Vapor Glove to my foot well enough to enjoy the benefits of its shoeness regularly.
That's enough about sizing now.
Shoe + Sock = Vapor Glove
Imagine that you put your favorite pair of shoes and your favorite pair of socks into a magic box that creates a superior hybrid out of two different things. (In the biological world, this would be called procreation. But, we're not gonna go there) The product of this sock and shoe combo would be—you guessed it—the Vapor Glove.
And, yeah, you'd be as impressed with the functionality of the Vapor Glove as much as you would be with how good it feels. Rather than attempting to cradle your foot with a two-dimensional outline, the Vapor Glove seems to take all three dimensions of your foot into consideration. The way it hugs your arch and metatarsals without impeding the lateral or vertical motion of your toes is better than any other shoe I've tried.
Seriously, if I didn't appreciate running shoes for the individuals that they are, I'd say that the Vapor Glove has ruined every other shoe for me. It's just that comfortable.
It's designed to be worn without socks. And, I can really feel that skin-friendly interior, which Merrell treated with some of that anti-microbial stuff that may or may not deter foot odor. (I'm still inclined to wear socks. But, that's just me) The shoe is machine washable, too, by the way.
Okay, I'm a realist. I know that there are plenty of you who have no interest in testing the potential of your barefoot running abilities. You may not even be interested in wearing a shoe like the Vapor Glove for running at all. And, I don't intend to tell you to change your ways.
Essentially, if you're an experienced barefooter or minimalist purist, you've pretty much figured out if this is a shoe you want to try. So, let me address the cushion-disposed faction for a moment:
Those of you in doubt might wonder why the Vapor Glove is good for more than just the barefooter runners and minimalist purists. Well, my favorite feature of the Vapor Glove is its ground feel. The Vibram sole allows for a substantial amount of proprioception. And, a high degree of proprioception gives your body better stability and impact awareness.
You don't have to run in the Vapor Glove to develop this sensitivity to the ground. Just walking around helps your brain develop a vocabulary to communicate with your lower legs and feet as you move across your world. This vocabulary translates (with some loss of understanding, of course) to your more strenuous activities that you perform in more cushioned shoes.
Most runners need to appreciate the ground more, I think. The Vapor Glove helps with that.
Additionally, the shoe looks good and does all sorts of good things for your lower body muscles. So, Merrell has bridged the gap between conscientious shoe wearers and minimal footwear. There have been a couple other shoes that came very close to accomplishing this. But, they lacked certain details that the Vapor Glove successfully incorporates into the wearing experience.
But, Don't Take My Word for It...
At the time I am writing this review, there are 15 consumer reviews of the Vapor Glove on the Merrell site. And, all but two of those reviews give the Vapor Glove 5 out of 5 stars. The other two reviews give it 4 stars with the primary complaint in those ones having to do with the larger-than-expected fit.
Clearly, this is a likable shoe with all sorts of potential. And, not insignificantly, the Vapor Glove retails for a tempting $80. If I wasn't fortunate enough to receive this sample pair form Merrell, I'd have purchased the shoe myself.
I suppose I've betrayed the fact that I really like the Vapor Glove. I've been anxious for its release since I saw pictures of it last Fall. And, it's everything I hoped it would be.
I intend to run a bunch of my weekly mileage in these shoes. They are superb on any terrain, even trails, if you're so inclined. (Although, to be honest, I might only try them on trails. I have too many exceptional trail shoes to just not use them)
Sure, I'll still wear other shoes with cushioning on a regular basis, too. But, I fully expect to develop better foot and muscle strength with the Vapor Gloves over time. So, they will definitely be part of my regular rotation.