I love the Merrell Barefoot Pace Gloves. Love them. In fact, I have two pairs.
I’ve done a zipline course in them.
I’ve hiked in them. I’ve walked around the neighborhood in them. I’ve even run some miles in them. In fact, I’ve worn one of the two pairs nearly every.single.day since I bought the first pair a little over a month ago.
But, I wouldn’t recommend them as minimalist running shoes for someone who has never run barefoot or in minimalist shoes before.
For most people, barefoot running changes the stride and uses muscles differently. If you start out completely barefoot, the sole of your foot is going to slow you down and tell you when you need to stop. When you start out with minimalist shoes, you have to actively decide when to stop. If you aren’t careful, it’s extremely easy to push your body too fast or too far.
The Merrell Pace Glove is a wonderfully comfortable, extremely flexible shoe that is built on a Vibram Sole. The 0 mm heel to ball drop and decently wide forefoot allow for an extremely natural feel when walking or running. The outsole is just slightly thicker than the Vibram Sprints I run in and there is a tiny (1mm) bit of cushion in the front. This adds up to slightly less “road feel”. Rocks that are uncomfortable in the Vibrams are not as obvious with the Merrells. I don’t know if this will change as the miles add up on the shoes. For me, this means I can get lazier about my form. Someone who is already strong with their barefoot running form might not even notice the difference. This is not to say that they won’t make great running shoes, just that you need to be aware of the difference.
Things I love about them:
- They are a trail shoe, so a lot less slippery than Vibrams when the conditions are less then optimal (Neil recently wrote a great race report where he wore them on icy trails.)
- I find them really comfortable with socks in them (and therefore a lot less stinky than the Vibram Five Fingers)
- They are cute (hey, I’m a girl.)
- Because I like them with socks, they are warmer.
- They are comfortable and allow for a decent amount of ground feel with a little bit of cushion.
- The flexibility of the sole allows for great ground feel when hiking or climbing.
The thing I don’t like:
- The shoelaces. I have issues with them for two reasons: 1) even double knotted, they come untied at least once a run and 2) as a mom who is constantly having to grab shoes as I race out the door, I hate the extra time it takes to get them on. (Petty reasons, I know.)
Would I buy them again? Absolutely. In fact, I’m trying to justify buying the chili pepper color (I already have the lavender and yellow). And if they came out with a pair in brown or some other earthy tone? Yeah, I will definitely get a pair of those. (Shh, don’t tell Beer Geek.)
Disclaimer: I bought both pairs with my own money. Merrell did not ask me to review them. Also, I am not an experienced barefoot runner and have only been running in minimalist shoes for a few months. Nor am I any sort of scientist or particularly well versed in human anatomy. Take my opinions as just that – opinions.