My name is Ben, and I have been wearing barefoot trainers for the past 12 years. I decided to change to shodless shoes more out of a whim than any physiological need. I had just completed a 30K distance and it was around that time. I guess on reflection I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the shoes I was wearing anyway and so when presented at the store with this alternative form of running shoe, I was open to the opportunity.
I currently own 2 pairs of barefoot trainers, with a couple of decommissioned pairs that I use for random activities around the garden. I have taken to wearing “casual” barefoot shoes for the past couple of years, so I have 4 active pairs I wear presently. I am a size 11 (UK) foot 45 (EU), Foot width, approximately 4.5”(though I rarely measure my width).
I have been primarily a vibram wearer since transitioning to them 5yrs ago, however I rarely wear socks in these, and come winter running, I wanted a shoe that would afford that opportunity. The attraction was based on the vapour glove 3’s, a shoe I liked but the fabric degraded really quickly leaving gaping holes. When I was in the market, I searched them out, found the new, upgraded 4 3D’s and went for them (plus they where in a Christmas sale which was a bonus). I purchased them from merrell directly. Price with the discount was £55. I tend to sport a lot of black when I run, and so for the shoe I went for the loudest colour available, and therefore the orange.
"In 1983, the first Merrell products were delivered to market. That same year we introduced our first women’s hiking boot withQForm® comfort technology, specially designed to fit the unique profile, bone structure and stride of female hikers, for greater comfort and performance.
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In 1993 we released our first cross-trainer model. Over the next 10 years we went all out innovation and added the mountain conquering Vibram® soles, launched the first ever Aftersport Jungle Mocs, and introduced our World Collection. Pretty much the only thing we didn’t do was sleep.
In 2006 we launched Merrell Apparel, partnered with the National Park Foundation, turned 30 (felt old) and kept pushing the limits of high-performance outdoor gear.
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Honestly, they are a conventional looking trainer, but everything inside out, and that’s what lead me to them. I like the “sock-shoe” vibe they have going on. The sole is 1.5mm thick so it gives good trail feedback, but added protection from rogue stones etc. They are comfortable also, and allow me to wear socks in the winter. I like the rigidity of the heel, so you feel supported on uneven terrain.
As noted, I am a fairly average size of shoe. 11(UK), as well an average width. The sizes on offer are from 7 - 15 with half measures between. Due to the flexibility of the shoe, there does not appear to be or need a variety of widths.
Below is the firms description of the shoe. The shoe upper is indeed a knit and the laces are “exposed”, like the ribbing of the trainer. With or without socks the foot slides in comfortably, and the casing of the shoe embraces the foot. The heel is quite firm at the ankle and feels like its supporting the foot. There is stability to the trainer despite it being a barefoot shoe - traditionally far more pliable. They are easy to wash also. The trails I run here in the UK can be quite impacted by our weather and so can get super muddy. I have run these under a tap and the mud washes off nicely. And due to the knitwear style of the core of the shoe, there are no nooks and crevices for residual mud to get stuck in. The knitwear is breathable also, and so they dry quickly too.
• 3D knit upper for 360-degree sock-like fit
• Traditional lace closure
• M Select™ FRESH antimicrobial agents reduces shoe odor
• Breathable mesh lining
• Integrated insole
• Merrell Barefoot 2 construction for enhanced proprioception and stability during variable movement
• Vibram® TC5+
They perform well and achieved what I was hoping for. I have currently run 300 miles in them. They have great ground feedback, as well as protection. They are warm and have a good toe box allowing the foot to expand whilst running. The tread of the shoe is also good. Having run in many a barefoot shoe at this stage, they all have some form of slippage when running, these would be no different, but the confidence is higher… Having run the aforementioned 300 miles in them, the wear of them has been quite good indeed.
Upper: Insole: 0mm; insole: 3mm; midsole: 0/0mm;
Sole: 1.5mm web, 2mm lug
Total Stack height: (heel/toe): 6.5/6.5mm
Weight: 7oz / 196g (1/2 pair)
Warm, well built and resolve the upper degrading fabric apparent in the vapour glove 3’s. Cool looking shoe also.
Not many to mention, perhaps the laces, requiring a double bow than a single as they have come undone once or twice, but that’s about it.
The vapour glove 4 3d is a comfortable barefoot trail trainer. While I initially purchased them to allow for socks in the winter running, I have happily warn these when not in colder temperatures. Considering the distance I have run in these in comparison to their predecessor where I only got 132 miles out of them, they are a good replacement. They have rigidity at the heal giving support when off road, as well the grip being more pronounced helps with good traction.
Ben, Guest Reviewer