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Merrell Tough Glove Review

Posted by on Mar 17, 2011 | 7 Comments

The Merrell Tough Glove is one of the six minimalist shoes Merrell released this last February. Of the three men’s shoes, the Tough Glove is the most appropriate for the business/casual market.

The shoe is constructed of a leather upper with a Vibram outsole. The outsole is shared among the entire line.

My minimalist shoe philosophy is pretty simple- I believe shoes are tools that allow us to navigate our environment when barefootedness isn’t practical. This idea also extends to causal and business/casual shoes. As a teacher, I cannot usually get away with being barefoot. I need a shoe that is somewhat formal. Until Merrell released this shoe, the only shoes that fit my needs were Terra Plana’s Dharms and Aquas.

The Tough Glove, like the other shoes in Merrell’s line, is exceptionally well-constructed. I would expect these shoes to last for a very long time, especially if they are not worn as active shoes (e.g.- running.)

As mentioned earlier, the sole is made by Vibram. I have significant experience with the sole as I have around 1,000 miles on my various Trail Gloves. At first, I questioned the logic of a fairly aggressive trail sole on these shoes. As it turns out, it was a major “plus.”

A major complaint of the Terra Plana line has been the slipperiness of the sole on wet floors, snow, or other precarious environments. The Tough Glove completely eliminates this problem. Traction is nothing short of awesome.

I did expect the tread to be problematic on hard surfaces, and it did take an hour or so to adjust. The tread is slightly uneven, which can be felt when walking. In fact, that minor complain would be my biggest gripe. If Merrell made a flatter sole, this shoe would be perfect.

The fit of the shoe is similar to the Trail Glove. It is fairly snug around the midfoot area with ample room for your toes to move. The fit is a stark contrast to the loose, floppy fit of the Terra Planas. For those that have tried EVOs and the Trail Glove, the differences in fit are similar to the differences between the Tough Glove and Aquas. People with exceptionally wide feet may find the shoe too narrow.

Aesthetically, I like the shoe. This shoe is formal enough to be worn in most business settings, and definitely educational settings. I prefer the brown to the black.

Intended use

The shoe is intended to be a casual shoe, but I couldn’t help testing it as I test all my shoes. I tested it out on trails and roads and found it to be nearly identical to the Trail Glove. The upper is not as flexible or breathable, but I love the fact that I could use this shoe for physical activity if needed. You never know when the urge to get outside hits, even if it is during a meeting. 😉


This shoe has become my preferred work shoe. Here are a few of the great things about the shoe:

  • Formal enough to be worn in most situations
  • Durable as Hell
  • Fit and flexibility allow for a natural gait
  • Tread is excellent for wet floors, rainy weather, or winter use
  • lightweight design gives the shoe a “barely there” feel


There are some things I would change about the shoe:

  • Tread isn’t great on very hard surfaces. This is tricky, because I love the tread most of the time. If I were the designer, I would keep this version and add another with a smooth sole made of the same compounds
  • Make a “wide version for people with exceptionally wide feet


This is my go-to semi-formal shoe. I wear them whenever I want (or need) to class it up. These shoes have upped the ante in the minimalist shoe casual/ business-casual market, which has traditionally lagged behind the “active shoe” market. For barefoot and minimalist shoe runners that need a more formal shoe, this should be at the top of your list. Of course, I would encourage you to actually get to a store to try the shoe as minimalist shoe fit tends to be very individualistic (see my post on selecting minimalist shoes.)

Where to buy

The shoes can be purchased online from Merrell, at a local retailer, or from Amazon using the links below (proceeds help fund Barefoot Running U.)


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  1. Running links for your enjoyment | The Running Bran
    March 23, 2011

    […] Merrell Tough Glove Review [Barefoot Running University] – Might have to check these out as my next work shoe […]

  2. Boris Terzic
    March 20, 2011

    Thanks for the review, been thinking about getting a pair myself.

  3. Aaron
    March 19, 2011

    Thanks for this review. I’ve been looking for a more formal review since they were released last month. If you have the time to add the above requested photographs would you please consider an overhead view of the shoe by its self?


    • Aaron
      March 19, 2011

      P.S. Amazon has an overhead view, but it isn’t quite directly overhead.

  4. John
    March 18, 2011

    I would like to see some pictures with khakis and jeans too if possible. Thanks!!

  5. Janice Nicholls
    March 18, 2011

    I am very impressed with my new Merrell Pace Gloves, but like you, find the tread takes some getting used to on a hard surface. I got mine for running in the snow because I found the Evo Barefoot tread insufficient for that. It was a good decision to switch in the winter, but now that the roads are bare I’m back into my Evos. As soon as it warms enough, I’m ditching the shoes altogether. I can’t wait for that!

    I’ve noticed Merrell is heavily promoting their shoe these days. I’ve seen them in a running magazine shoe review and a triathlon magazine shoe review (both Canadian magazines). I suspect they’ll catch on faster than Evos because of it. I’ll be interested to see if anyone in my triathlon club buys a pair. I’m in a club with people who are very skeptical about the benefits of running in bare feet!

  6. Chris
    March 18, 2011

    Any chance we could get some pics of these being worn with khakis to get a better idea of their suitability for business casual use?