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Merrell Flux Glove Review: The Ultimate Jack-of-all Trades Minimalist Shoe?

Posted by on Oct 1, 2012 | 7 Comments

Officially, the Merrell Flux Glove is designed as a training shoe. It’s designed on the Road Glove outsole, but with a slightly more structured upper to handle lateral cutting movements. Think high intensity interval training. While the shoe excels as a training shoe, I found it to be the single most versatile minimalist shoe I’ve found to date.

I received the shoe right before we left the mountains of Colorado, brought it with me to the root and dirt trails of Michigan, tested it on the roads around Columbus, Ohio, and tested it in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virgina. During that time, I’ve tested it on rugged Rocky Mountain trails, muddy Midwest trails, asphalt, and the steep inclines of mountain trails on the Grindstone 100 course. I’ve also used it extensively as a workout and casual shoe.

Before I get to the results of the experimentation, how about some data?

  • The shoe is zero-dropped with a flat (no trail knobs) tread.
  • The footbed has 4mm of EVA cushioning.
  • The fabric upper allows for adequate ventilation.
  • Fit is roughly the same as the Trail Glove and Road Glove as they share the same last.
  • Wide toe box to allow toe splay.

My Experiences

The Flux Glove performed exceptionally well as a crosstraining shoe, which is the shoe’s intended purpose. The upper is stiffer than the Road Glove, which was a more-than-capable crosstraining shoe. The upper makes the shoe feel a little more stable, though. That stability is great for lateral movements as it keeps your foot over the footbed instead of sliding off. The zero drop heel doesn’t affect posture by compressing the spine, so the shoe works well for any sort of squatting, dead lift, or other standing exercise. This was a major complaint of the Inov-8 F-Lite 195 and the New Balance MT-10 Minimus Trail , the preferred shoes of Crossfitters (Sorry Reebok, your Crossfit shoe sucks).

On roads, I actually preferred the stiffer upper of the Flux Glove over the looser upper of the Road Glove. I did a few “Flux Glove on one foot, Road Glove on the other” tests, and they confirmed this. I suspect this is just a personal preference, though.

For light trail running (like the trails in Michigan) the Flux Glove excelled. The sole with 4mm of EVA provided more than enough protection while allowing for excellent ground feel and proprioception. If I didn’t have Trail Gloves, the Flux Glove would likely be my preferred light duty Trail Shoe.

Gnarly, technical trails were a bit of a different story. The lack of a rock plate made this shoe a poor choice for the rocky trails of both Colorado and Virginia. The Flux Glove could be used as long as pace was slower and visibility (i.e.- not dark or there were no leaves covering the rocks) was good. The Flux Gloves were really good on bare rock surfaces without a lot of sharp, pointy protrusions. The Vibram rubber was sticky enough to be able to climb some very steep pitches without using my hands. These would have been excellent shoes for the mountains around Squaw Valley, CA.

The Flux Glove worked well as a casual shoe mostly because I love the look. In my opinion, the shoe is a major aesthetic upgrade over the Road Glove in both design and color combinations.

Conclusion

The Flux Glove is a great universal shoe that will serve a multitude of purposes. It will find a welcome home among the Crossfit and related exercise crowd. Road runners looking for a minimal shoe will also appreciate the shoe. The Trail Glove is a better trail shoe, so I don’t expect to see a lot of these in ultras. However, it can perform on the less gnarly trails.

So… is this the shoe for you? I’d place it very high on my own personal list, but I always recommend people try shoes before buying. How the shoe fits on your foot is the single most important variable. I recommend using this process to buy all minimalist shoes.

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This shoe was provided by the manufacturer.

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7 Comments

  1. Rob
    October 8, 2012

    Since I got into barefoot running with my Vibram Speed’s I started looking for the perfect shoe. I even bought a pair of KSO’s as I liked the VFFs so much. The VFFs were great at getting me into this (and cured my knee problems when running).

    However, over the long-term, I found that my little toe was pushed out beyond it’s natural position and it used to blister often underneath on the toe-pad.

    So looked at the Merrell’s and New Balance shoes, but they were a little too tight for my foot. Then I found Vivobarefoot – they seemed to have the perfect shoes for me! I now use the Aqua Lite for road running and the Breatho trails for off-road running.

    Trail-running is now my favourite kind of running and I’ve been so impressed with the Breatho’s. They have great little lugs all over the bottom of the shoe and they’re brilliant for mud and wet grass.

    The Aqua Lite’s on the other hand are great for road running or just for spending time in as they look so casual.

    Just thought I’d give a quick run down of my barefoot shoes experiences.

    cheers
    Rob.

  2. Martin
    October 5, 2012

    Thanks for the review.
    If you care for a tip, I put Mix Masters’ insoles into my Trail Gloves before today’s run and the result was not bad at all!

  3. Hakim
    October 1, 2012

    This is actually the Flux Glove SPORT. The Flux Glove has a leather upper, while the Sport has the traditional mesh. Shame on you reviewer, although I usually love this guy’s reviews.
    My Road Gloves just ripped in the mesh last week from playing pickup rugby, and I was in the market for something just like it, but with a more durable from to support lateral movement. Looks like the Flux Glove (not sport) has a stronger leather top, and seems to be the perfect replacement!

    http://www.merrell.com/US/en-US/Product.mvc.aspx/28977M/0/Mens/Barefoot-Train-Flux-Glove
    VS
    http://www.merrell.com/US/en-US/Product.mvc.aspx/28978M/0/Mens/Barefoot-Train-Flux-Glove-Sport

    • Aaron
      October 1, 2012

      Thx for clarifying as I thought this was the sport (the non-sport weighs 25-30% more it appears) – 6.8 vs 8.8oz
      The regular width fits my forefoot pretty snugly so I’m guessing the road glove would work better for me.
      My personal review – trail glove for rocky trails, road or maybe this flux glove for non rocky trails. For road, I think the new balance minimus zero road is a much better pavement shoe than any of the merrell options at this point.

  4. Matt
    October 1, 2012

    I’ve been using my trail gloves for crossfit and they have been great! These sound as good or better. If my trail gloves ever wear out, I’ll have to look into them. Thanks for the review

  5. .:Ash:.
    October 1, 2012

    The Reebok crossfit shoe sucks? Whaaaat? :-P

    Seriously, though, could you elaborate a bit on the “lack-of-a-rock-plate” remark? Is this more flexible than the Road Glove?

  6. Julien
    October 1, 2012

    “lack of rock plate” ?
    so it is very flexible, like a bikila and more than a trail glove ?

    i’m a big fan of the trail glove wich i consider as my most versatile shoe, But, the Merrell range is a bit confusing with road/trail/flux
    uppers are very closes and soles not really different (for me the trail glove lacks bigger knobs)

    Hard to choose ;)