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First Look! Merrell Barefoot Spring 2012 Lineup: [insert favorite expletive here]

Posted by on Jul 25, 2011 | 30 Comments

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.

Merrell Road Glove

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.

Merrell 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 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.

Merrell Rapid Glove

Merrell Swift Glove

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.


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  1. harris
    July 31, 2011

    Dear Jason,

    Just wondering if there are any updates to the Merrel Tough Glove for the business market.

    Ever since i transitioned to minimal footwear, i’ve been trying to do the same for my office shoes. Unfortunately, i find the Merrel Tough Glove series still a little casual for my office and so i am in the process of getting a cobler to take the heels of a regular work shoe and sticking a thin rubber sole.

    Anyway, hope Merrel doesn’t forget about the business market!

  2. Mo
    July 30, 2011

    WIDERR!!! WWWIIIIDDDEERRRRR!!!! I love the idea of a minimalist shoe that doesn’t look like a monkey, but so far only VFF’s fit my paws:(

  3. John
    July 29, 2011

    Looks like the line was designed 15 years ago…they need help with colors and materials.

  4. DGL47
    July 28, 2011

    Thanks. The Road glove looks great. I’ve run many miles in the Trail glove and think it works great on roads and trails. If they remove the midfoot cut-out that would improve it, but that is all the change I want in it.

  5. Merrell Barefoot 2012 Lineup: Preview of the Merrell Road Glove, Dash Glove and More from Jason Robillard | Road Runner Shoes
    July 27, 2011

    […] Jason Robillard over at Barefoot Running University just put up a post with a preview of some of the shoes that will be added to the Merrell Barefoot shoe lineup in Spring 2012. As a road runner , the new lineup includes one that I have been waiting for for a long time – the Merrell Barefoot Road Glove: […]

  6. Cristina
    July 27, 2011

    The dash glove might just be my next pair, but I’m not too sure about that rusty color…

  7. carl
    July 27, 2011

    i am just trying to break into this world of trail running and minimalist shoes. Im tossing it up between the NB minimus and the trail glove.
    Can you recommend one or the other?

  8. Oscar
    July 27, 2011

    Hi Jason, does the road glove have a rock plate like the trail glove? I think the trails would be perfect to run on roads (asphalt/soft sand) just removing the plate. Not much noticeable, but there.

  9. Bo
    July 26, 2011

    Those have got to be the ugliest Merrell’s I’ve ever seen. I get it, feet are ugly. But just because they’re part of the barefoot line doesn’t mean they have to be as ugly as the feet they are designed to protect! Come on people!! I love my trail gloves, but I really don’t think I’ll be buying any of these styles from the new line.

  10. Liz
    July 26, 2011

    Ooh… I’m excited about the road shoe, but really wish they’d make the women’s shoes more like the men’s (my feet are too small for the guys’ shoes)… especially some wild and bright colors that aren’t all girly. (We don’t ALL love pink, lavender, and pale lemon.)

    That said, I do love my Pace Gloves (black, TYVM)and have had no issues with the heel.

  11. BarefootNick
    July 26, 2011


    Any chance you can get them to create a Mortons Glove (feel free to trademark the name) for those of us with a shortened first metatarsal in relation to the second metatarsal.
    I love their shoes, but unless I wear them a size up, I end up with black toenails on the one toe on both feet.
    I got my wife into a pace glove pair since she had worn out her old KilKenny XC3.
    She loves them as well.

  12. Kim
    July 26, 2011

    Cool! One day I’d love to corner some shoe designers and ask them about “male” vs “female” shoes. Are they built differently, or is it all about aesthetics and marketing?

    I think it could be cool to have universal sizing for shoes. As it is, I wear an 11-ish in women’s — which translates to, what, maybe an 8 or 9 in mens? I’m suddenly very curious what would happen if I went to my local retailer and asked to try on just men’s shoes. I think I’ve got a new project!

  13. Quentin
    July 26, 2011

    Honestly much more excited about the 2012 Minimus line. Check it out.

  14. Jamoosh
    July 26, 2011

    I am definitely excited about the Road Glove – any testers needed? (Ha!)

    As for the cushioning, I am happy for it (currently using Newtons on the Road and the Trail Glove on the Trails), as I make my transition to a more minimalist shoe because I am prone to more heel striking on the road (but I am getting better!).

  15. briderdt
    July 26, 2011

    I couldn’t wait for the Trail Glove after it was first announced. I made a special trip to Portland just (okay, not JUST, but it was planned as part of the trip) to get them the first weekend they appeared in stores. Now seeing these… I can’t wait all over again. The road shoe appears to have addressed the issues I have with the Trail Glove, the Edge Glove looks like the perfect shoe for everyday use (especially if it comes in black), and the Rapid Glove looks like the true answer to the Vibrams for those that HATE having anything between their toes. The Bare Access also sounds much like the Altra Instinct…

    Hmmm… The market is getting much more interesting.

  16. Matus
    July 26, 2011

    Wow, some great shoes there! Do you know whether they all use the same sole? I have a feeling that the sole on my Trail Glove is wearing off quite quickly.

  17. Tracy Longacre
    July 26, 2011


    Thanks for this. I, too, am eyeing those water shoes. The Rapid Glove is the best looking one you show.

    But could you please talk to Merrel about this stupid heel counter they are putting on the women’s shoes. That things is horrible. It cuts your Achilles tendon. At the very least, they could offer alternatives — here it looks like every single women’s model is going to have this heel counter. And the one with the added strap looks like the worst — OMG something more to cut into my feet.

    They go to all the trouble to make the men’s versions all soft inside so you can go sockless, bu then they make the women’s model’s little torture machines. Please ask them to stop!

    • Kittyk
      July 26, 2011

      I agree on the heel counter issue. I brought the NB Minimus and I can’t wear them. The heel counter rubs my heel raw which is a shame because I like some of the aspects of the shoe. I don’t mind the strap on the rapid glove, as long as I could have an option to have it looser. I have problems with the Merrell lacing; no matter how I tie it, it comes undone. Don’t have this problem with other shoes.

      It’ll be interesting to see them – when we eventually get them in Canada *laugh*

    • Suzanne
      July 26, 2011

      I agree with you on this. I ended up with the men’s Trail Gloves because of this. I had the NB Minimus for a couple of weeks and took them back because of how high they come up on the back and the blisters I got from that. I tried on the women’s Merrell’s and anticipated having the same problem so I went with the men’s and I am very happy.

      I am excited about the new shoes coming out though! Thanks for the sneak peak Jason!

  18. Ash
    July 26, 2011

    I’m glad you get to share this info with us, Jason. It must be so fun to be part of this process with Merrell.

    Those water shoes look very enticing. I might be at my limit with running shoes. But, surely my wife would understand if I need a new pair of “water” shoes. 😉

  19. Jim B
    July 26, 2011

    This is great stuff…when can we expect a military compatible boot based on the barefoot sole/design? I have been waiting for that for a few years from someone. The only real options for a zero drop boot is to get custom boots ($300+) or cut the soles off and get a cobbler to resole them (difficult to get right with a last that is made for a 2 inch heel)
    Just wondering…

  20. nick
    July 26, 2011

    Design needs major improvement….

  21. Anders Friberg
    July 26, 2011

    Road glove sounds great!
    Is there an updated trailglove coming as well?

  22. James
    July 26, 2011

    While I love the minimalist design, I would love some minimalist aesthetics to go with it. These designs are downright loud and ugly.

    • Chris
      July 26, 2011

      Yes – I agree. The Edge Glove is OK if it is meant to be for playing tennis, but the others are pretty bad.

      However there will probably be a range of colours for each. The Trail Glove comes in very loud Orange and Yellow colour options as well as the more understated ones.

      Each to his or her own I suppose.

  23. Chris
    July 26, 2011

    Nice to see what the future holds, but I am sure I cannot be the only one who is a bit confused as to the reason for this huge range of shoes.

    Can we get some idiots guide to why we might choose the Road Glove over the Trail Glove, or what the Edge Glove is meant to be for, and so on?

  24. Troy
    July 26, 2011

    neat to get a glimpse into the future! these all look great! Thanks for being our (BFR) inside man in the shoe biz! I’ll probably at least be checking out the road gloves when they come out next spring!

    the only question i would have is why the massive toe spring? If I could change one thing about my trail gloves it’d be the toe spring (the second would be the rock plate, but then I know why it’s there and it’s my fault I don’t use the shoes as intended).

    • Janice Hill
      July 26, 2011

      I was wondering the same thing (about the toe spring). It looks pretty unnatural. I don’t know about you, but my toes don’t curve up like that!

      • Troy
        July 26, 2011

        Mine do when I wear my trail gloves! ;^)

      • DGL47
        July 29, 2011

        There is a slight curve in the toebox, but it doesn’t interfere with your running.

        As for the toe plate, keep it in. These are the only shoes that can run on the roads and trails without bruising your feet.

        VFFs suck on even the smallest rocks.