Being a blogger is a cool gig. Most of the time. You get to meet interesting people, let your voice be heard, even score some free swag.
Sometimes being a blogger blows. By our very nature, we share knowledge and news. Let’s face it- we’re the gossip queens of the Interwebs. We’re information whores. Occasionally we’re given information on one condition- we can’t share until a future date. That’s when blogging isn’t so fun.
Enter Merrell. Since I started working with them to develop their barefoot education materials, I’ve been given access to many people inside the company. When I first started working with them, I had quite a few conversations that started as constructive criticism about the Trail Gloves and ended up as a long-winded wish list of the minimalist shoes I’d like to see them make.
They would share information, but I couldn’t write about it. I had to be satisfied with my inner shoe geek having great conversations about what made a good minimalist shoe.
Little did I know they listened- not only to me, but the conversations on forums, Facebook messages, and the feedback people emailed them directly. Damn did they listen.
I first became aware of their offerings for Spring 2012 sometime this winter. They told me they were working on a few things. The design team gave me some tantalizing hints. The marketing team discussed some of the concepts. Each discreet bit of information was like a small piece of the puzzle of what their next generation of minimalist shoes would look like.
This was fine and dandy, but they were just words. People say a lot of stuff.
Not much of it turns out to be true.
Then I got to handle a prototype of the Road Glove.
Okay… they were serious about designing the best minimalist shoes in the world. Really serious.
Since that first groping of the prototype, I’ve seen the Road Glove in action multiple times, handled the cutaways, and talked to the people that have tried them. The conclusion- this shoe is to road running what the Trail Glove was to trail running.
- Zero drop: Check.
- Wide toe box: Check.
- Light weight: Check.
- Flexible: Check.
- Sockless liner: Check.
- Well-ventilated: Check.
- Flat sole: Check.
I have tried a host of minimalist road shoes that have been developed in recent years. None have come close to replacing my venerable Vibram KSOs or huaraches… until now. Merrell managed to incorporate my exact wish-list of road shoe features in one package. Note- I don’t think they actually listened to me, rather they listened to the collective voice I represent.
I should note- they have a female version of the Road Glove, too. It’s called the Dash Glove.
I will be posting a full review of the Road Glove in a few months. This is a shoe I want to test to it’s full capacity.
The Road Glove is going to turn a lot of heads once it’s released in the spring. The cool thing about Merrell- they weren’t just satisfied with filling the needs of road runners. As an organization, they decided to back the ideals of BFR/MR across all activities, not just running.
Their entire spring 2012 lineup is filled with a ton of options for any activity. This includes the Sonic Glove, the shoe I wore for the first 20 miles of the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run… and no, I never get tired of mentioning the race OR wearing that silver buckle. :-) It also includes a Gore-Tex version called the Embark, and a female version called the Lithe.
Merrell also created a line of casual shoes known as the “Barefoot Life” line. This line includes some versatile shoes, including things like the women’s Serene Glove ballet-like sliper and the men’s Edge Glove.
Merrell is also introducing a shoe I was skeptical of in the beginning- the Bare Access. It’s a zero-drop shoe with 8mm of cushioning. Anyone that has read my stuff for any length of time knows I hate cushioned shoes almost as much as talking on the phone. For years, I have been anti-cushioning. For myself, I still am.
However, I have talked with an awful lot of runners that prefer cushioning when transitioning to more minimal shoes. Merrell did, too. The shoe incorporates all the other positive features of the rest of the lineup. Because of this, the shoe is actually much better than I expected, even for an anti-cushioning advocate.
I think the real sleepers of their new line will be their “Bare Water” series. I haven’t had too many conversations about these, mostly because I suspect my Merrell friends assume I only care about running. The idea behind these shoes is to create a shoe that can be used for water sports and offer all the benefits of a true minimalist shoe.
My first encounter with the Current Glove went something like this:
Merrell rep: “This is one of our new water shoes. It’s designed for quick drainage, a secure fit…”
Me: [I pick up the shoe and immediately begin imagining this as the ultimate shoe for running wet ultramarathons]
Merrell rep: [as I am now in my own little world] “waka waka waka waka”
Knowing BFR/MR runners, the entire Bare Water line will be used for running even tough that wasn’t the intended purpose. They’re like aqua socks with great fit, better ventilation, and they won’t make your feet sweat excessively.
As you may have guessed, Merrell gave me the green light to talk about the lineup for spring 2012. I’m excited because I’ve been handling these shoes for months and immediately recognized how much of a game-changer these shoes will be. It feels good to be able to talk about them.
We finally have a company that openly supports barefoot running and listen to the needs of the community. Most importantly, they’re expanding their line to try to meet the needs of as many people as possible. They’re offing variety without sacrificing the very minimalist characteristics that made the Trail Glove the awesome shoe it is.
In case some of you missed it before, you can download a free copy of the second edition of ‘The Barefoot Running Book’ to help you on your barefoot and minimalist shoe adventures!
To get the book, go to my family’s “crazy cross-country RV trip” website here:
As I mention in that post, the reason for the giveaway is simple- I want to change the running world. Help me out by sharing the link with anyone and everyone you think may be even remotely interested.