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.
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.
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.
This shoe was provided by the manufacturer.