Sunday, March 24, 2013

Merrell Vapor Glove Review: If You Think You Want it, You Want It

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.

Merrell Men's Vapor Glove - rolled

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.

Merrell Men's Vapor Glove - top

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.

Merrell Men's Vapor Glove - interior

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.

Yes, You

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.

Merrell Men's Vapor Glove - upper and sole

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.

Merrell Men's Vapor Glove - toe heel

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.

Personal Use

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.

Merrell Men's Vapor Glove - Side and heel

Thanks for reading!

cmp.ly
Product provided by Merrell.

26 comments:

  1. Just a great review! Shoe and sock sex?! I will never write another shoe review.

    By the way, I tried on Josh's pair with his special lacing technique and even my paddle foot fit without too much constriction.

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    1. Ha! Thanks Scott! It sounds so dirty when you type it like that.

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  2. curse you. curse Josh. A pox on both of your blogs. I just ordered yet another pair of shoes from Merrell. I think it is up to a 7 or 8 now.
    I used to regard myself as just another pathetic sucker to shoe company marketing. But with this pair, I have clearly crossed the line to mental illness.

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    1. Don't curse the messengers, Anthony. Blame Merrell. It's Merrell's fault!
      So, which color did you choose?

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    2. Anthony, let me know what you think about them after some extended wear. We have similar freakishly wide feet. If they work for you over the long haul, I'll probably spring for a pair.

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  3. Just got them today.
    I usually wear size 12, so I got a size 11. Still a little long.
    Same old story, too long but not wide enough.
    Love the flexibility and minimalism though
    I have a 5K in the morning, I'll see how they feel running in them.

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    1. Hmmm, I hope some clever lacing techniques will help with your width issue. I believe that's what Josh does.

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  5. Hey Ashwyn. Can you describe to me how you think these are meant to fit? I normally wear a size 8. I bought them in size 8 and 7.5, planning to return one of them. The 8's are a a bit roomier and feel wider. They also seem a little long in the front(just over a thumbnail width with no socks). The 7.5's feel more glove like but do very slightly, but not uncomfortably, push on the sides of my feet(narrowish). In the 7.5s I can just reach the rubber roof with my big toe and they do feel slightly less stable when standing on one leg because they are less wide(so my foot wants to fall to either side more easily). There is still enough room though so that I feel I can splay out my toes and dorsalflex them. The 8's aren't too big but if I don't tie them my foot is more likely to move around in them.
    Based on what I've said, you have any suggestion? Should I expect these shoes to loosen up over time? Should I opt for snug fit or a little extra room? I would go with the smaller pair but I worry about the fact that they feel less stable(but maybe they'll flatten out with time)
    Thanks

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    1. Thanks for describing the difference in fit of your two different sizes here. Based on my experience with the large-fitting 12 on my foot, I'd be inclined to stick with the size 8 in this case. The pair I've been wearing haven't loosened up over the miles. And, I don't feel that they will. And, I think that the little extra room in a pair of Vapor Gloves is preferable to having them too snug around your toes, because tying the laces secures the shoe around the arch and midfoot, which is what really counts for fit in a shoe like this. And, you want your toes to splay as much as you want them to. So, yes, based on your description, it sounds like the size 8 would be better.

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  6. You don't think over a thumbnail worth of space is too much for a minimalist shoe? I usually go for half a thumbnail or they crinkle and crease all funny like when I dorsal flex and the toe catches on things as well.

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    1. In most every case, yes, I am wary of having more than a thumbnail's worth of space between my longest toe and the end of the shoe. And, if I were picking these out to buy instead of reviewing media samples from the manufacturer, I'd definitely try on a pair of these in at least two sizes.

      I say that this oversized pair of Vapor Gloves works for me, because their upper material is not at all uncomfortable when it creases. I've been worried about the toe catching, too. But, it hasn't so far.

      And, again, if I were buying these for myself, I would have bought a smaller size.

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  7. 1. Josh,
    Thanks. I will certainly check out these shoes. But, I’ll probably have the same problem with them as I have with almost all the new minimalist running shoes. They claim to accommodate natural foot form and motion, but they do it for only 2/3 of the population. The shape of the front of the toe boxes these days are in a fad (not driven by function). They are mostly pretty much wedge shaped instead of a more symmetrical, blunt rounded shape, like they used to be. I (and about 1/3 of the population) have Morton’s toe, where the second (and sometimes 3rd) toe is longer than the 1st (big) toe. The wedge shaped front of the toe box, literally cuts off the front of my second toe, all for nothing but fad. If the toe box had the more symmetrical, rounded, blunt front, them it would much better accommodate my foot. For example, I have the Merrell Trail grove. A decent shoe, but not as thin as I prefer. Normally I could wear a 10.5 or 11.0 and the shoe would fit “like a glove,” but because of the wedge shaped toe box I have to move up to an 11.5 and leave almost an inch of shoe sticking out in front. Worst of all, when I increase shoe size to leave room for the Morton’s toe, the width of the shoe becomes excessive, so that when I lace them up tight enough, the material over the top of the mid-foot bunches up, creases, and cuts into the top of my foot. I cannot wear the Merrell Trail gloves w/o socks because they lacerate the top of my foot if I wear them barefoot. This is not just a Merrell problem. I have New Balance Minimus Hi-rez and I had to move up in size just because of the wedge shaped toe box they have also. At least the Hi-rez uppers are so soft and seamless and slightly more strecthy that they don’t bunch up as much as the Merrells and cut up the top of my feet. I hope the vapor glove uppers are soft enough, seamless enough, and stretchy enough to compensate for the poor toe box shape forcing me to get over-sized shoes.
    Even one of my favorite running mocasins, made by SoftStarShoes, the RunAmoc Dash Lite, with a soft leather upper and perfectly flat 4mm vibram sole (that is re-solable) has the wedge shape toe box, forcing me up to a sloppy size 11.5. Don’t even get me going about Vibram toed shoes. I would have to use a blow torch to melt and lengthen the 2nd toes.
    Morton’s feet, revolt against the Borg! The most reliable footwear for us are the various forms of huarache sandals, and completely bare feet.

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    1. I really appreciate your comment, Stephen! I have a similar issue with certain shoe lasts and my littlest toes. If you get around to trying the Vapor Gloves, I'd love to know if they work for you.

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  8. Hi fellows; was wondering if you chaps can help me with figuring out what shoes size I should get for the Merrell Vapor Glove (Men). Unfortunately, the Men's version of the Vapor Glove isn't available in most of the sports shops over here in Singapore. I'd managed to try on 2 other alternate Merrell footwear. I can fit comfortably in the US8.5 of the Merrell Road Glove 2 (Men) & I can just barely squeeze my foot into the US9.5 of the Ladies version of the Vapor Glove (however, for the Ladies Vapor Glove US9.5, my toes have to arch ever so slightly in the toe box area, which probably means it's a wee bit bordering on the tight side). Yes, I was desperate enough to try on the Ladies' version of the Vapor Glove to figure out some clue as to what's my size for the Men's version will be. My current pair of running shoe is the New Balance Minimus MT00 (which I'm wearing the 2E version of US 9.5), & I have also tried on the US10 (width: 'D') version of the latest New Balance Hi Rez & that fits too. So my question is, what size should I get for the Men's version of the Merrell Vapor Glove if I wish to purchase it online? Thank you.

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    1. Hello Rallieart12! I apologize for this tardy response to your question. I imagine that you have determined the Vapor Glove size that is most comfortable to you by now. But, for posterity, I'll answer your question with this: If you can only try on one size of the Vapor Glove, make it the US Men's size 8.5. If you have the luxury of trying on two sizes, give the US Men's Size 8 a try, too. I say this, because, if the US Men's Size 8.5 Road Glove 2 is comfortable for you, then the same size Vapor Glove should work. It might feel a bit larger than that Road Glove 2, though.

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    2. So I finally made the gamble & bought a pair of US8 from Amazon. Just received them recently & the fit is perfect. Another commentator have told me to try the shoefitr web plug-in on runningwarehouse & that plug-in recommended me to go for a US7.5 Vapour Glove. Based on feedback from Merrell (as in the official company), they recommended me to go for US7.5 (I told Merrell that I fit into a US9.5 ladies' Vapour Glove & they told me the general rule is to subtract 2 sizes for Men's counterpart). Based on the general feedback from the commentators, they said to go for the same size that works for me when I tried the Road Glove 2, i.e. US8.5. So, factoring the various "vibe" that I got from Amazon & other Merrell online retailers (that the Vapour Glove "wears large"), I decided to gambled for an US8.0 of the Vapour Glove from Amazon & the fit...well, it's awesome. Here's a photo of me with my foot all the way to the front; notice I can still stick a finger in: http://i.imgur.com/xtrBECy.jpg
      So, really, thanks fellows! For making this happen! For those who are "forced" to purchase online without the opportunity to try on this specific model physically, do note the other shoe brands & models that I tried (a few posts above). Thanks again fellows!

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  9. I wear size US 11-11,5. I can only buy online, since in my country does not sell this shoe. Compared with the other shoes you have What size do you recommend?

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  10. So I finally made the gamble & bought a pair of US8 from Amazon. Just received them recently & the fit is perfect. Another commentator have told me to try the shoefitr web plug-in on runningwarehouse & that plug-in recommended me to go for a US7.5 Vapour Glove. Based on feedback from Merrell (as in the official company), they recommended me to go for US7.5 (I told Merrell that I fit into a US9.5 ladies' Vapour Glove & they told me the general rule is to subtract 2 sizes for Men's counterpart). Based on the general feedback from the commentators, they said to go for the same size that works for me when I tried the Road Glove 2, i.e. US8.5. So, factoring the various "vibe" that I got from Amazon & other Merrell online retailers (that the Vapour Glove "wears large"), I decided to gambled for an US8.0 of the Vapour Glove from Amazon & the fit...well, it's awesome. Here's a photo of me with my foot all the way to the front; notice I can still stick a finger in: http://i.imgur.com/xtrBECy.jpg
    So, really, thanks fellows! For making this happen! For those who are "forced" to purchase online without the opportunity to try on this specific model physically, do note the other shoe brands & models that I tried (a few posts above). Thanks again fellow!

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  12. Hey, just out of curiosity, have you ever taken Vibram's Spyridon or Treksport for a spin? And how do they compare?

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  13. Vapor Glove is great.But it should have many colors to choise.What do you think about it?

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  14. Great post. You talk about nice runner shoes.But you must know about plantar fasciitis. Some boots and shoes protect us from plantar fasciitis. so be careful about walking shoes in plantar fasciitis. Thanks in this post. I am waiting for your next post

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  15. Thanks for this great post.Everyday we need running.But we need shoes for good run.Some shoes protect from many problem such Plantar fasciitis.

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  16. Thanks for the detailed review. I guess if you have wider feet, then this shoe is perfect! Maybe not for those with slim feet since it feels "wobbly" while running.

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  17. How do you compare this shoe and the Bare arc 4 shoe of this same brand? I am wanting a good walking/ running shoe that will protect my high arches from plantar fasciitis once again...

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