Review: Merrell Road Glove

The efficient road shoe is elusive. How do you find the right combination of lightness, ground-feel, and protection from pebbles whilst not interfering with the natural motion of the foot, and subsequently the remainder of the kinetic chain up the leg? When looking for a road shoe, I often find myself making compromises, some are too squishy, others too stiff, do I want a Zero-Drop shoe? or would I be better off with a bit of a heel?

The Merrell Road Glove is Merrell’s answer to the minimalist road running shoe dilemma. Based on the same last as their incredibly popular Trail Glove, the Road Glove is really a result of some minor alterations to its trail-oriented brother. Here are the Stats:

Weight: 6.6 oz (men’s size 9)
Cushioning: 4mm EVA foam
Vibram Outsole
ZERO drop

Okay, so that’s the boring part, and precisely what one would expect from the Merrell “Barefoot” line of shoes, so I’m really not telling you anything new right now. The fit on the Road Glove is exactly what any barefoot/minimalist runner would be looking for, snug in the heel, wide in the toe box. This allows the foot to feel attached to the shoe (in fact, it eventually feels like the shoe is molded onto your foot) while giving the runner enough toebox room for the toes to splay naturally. There is a piece of foam that touches the arch directly, much like the Trail glove. This is NOT an arch support, it’s foam, and is there to lock the foot into place within the shoe. This foam has no rigidity, and collapses easily when your foot flattens out, so it is in no way taking any load off of your arches.

The ground feel on these shoes is fantastic. Merrell has taken an approach that concentrates more on the outsole than the midsole of the shoe, so there’s only a small layer of EVA (4mm) between your foot and the outsole, but the outsole is present for the entirety of the sole of the shoe. While this makes for a very consistent ground feel, and prevents any squishiness in the shoe, it does feel a little stiff when compared to the outsole designs using pods (like the NB MR00). However, this is such a minor complaint, it’s barely worth noting. In fact, the Vibram outsole combined with the modest amount of cushioning seems to take the edge off of any pebbles you may encounter, while not sacrificing the overall ground-feel (a major upgrade from my VFF’s which leave my feet sore on any run <5miles)

How are they different from the Trail Glove? Simply stated, they have a different (less aggressive) outsole, and have eliminated the rock-plate. There have also been some changes to the upper, since a trail shoe really needs to be more connected to the foot than a road shoe requires. These handful of changes makes for a lighter shoe that will hopefully last longer on roads (the trail glove is reported to wear out very quickly on the roads… although it was never intended for road use).

Conclusions? I like them… a lot. While I don’t run exclusively in Zero-Drop shoes (I’ve found that I prefer a 4mm drop in my trail shoes) These have found themselves used heavily in my rotations. I would definitely consider racing in these, and am looking forward to putting some 20+ mile runs on them in the near future.

Note: These shoes were provided to me as part of my Merrell Sponsorship to Participate in the Outdoor Nation Summit.

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