Thursday, October 18, 2012

Merrell Road Glove | In-depth Review



Merrell Road Glove



Introduction
Is the Merrell Road Glove one of the top running shoes on the market? 
After the Velcro on my Saucony Hattori lost its Velcro-y-ness, I decided it was time to upgrade my shoes.  I had a difficult time choosing between different New Balance, Inov-8, and Altra Zero Drop models, especially since New Mexico doesn’t really have a specialty store that carries these brands.  After chatting a bit with Pete Larson of Runblogger.com, he recommended the Merrell Road Glove.  I’m a huge fan of Merrell, and I should disclose that I was a sponsored Merrell Delegate over the Summer for the Outdoor Nation Boston Summit.  With that being said, I had no affiliation with Merrell when I originally purchased this shoe.  And let me tell you… this is one hell of a shoe!



Shoe Specs
Overall, I would say that this is a more minimal shoe than the Saucony Hattori.  With a stacked height of 11mm in both the heel and the forefoot, this would classify the Road Glove as a zero-drop shoe (0mm differential between the forefoot and the heel).  More specs: it’s super light, weighing in at  6.9oz.  (Measurements obtained from one of my favorite online running stores, Running Warehouse.)  Furthermore, the Road Glove has a wide forefoot.  My foot feels entirely natural in this shoe, and my toes can splay freely while I run!

Sole

The sole of the Road Glove is made completely from Vibram material, and the design of the sole is what makes this shoe one of the most versatile shoes on the market.  I’ve found that this sole is perfect for road running, (up to) moderate technical trail running, and as an everyday casual shoe.  
Entire Shoe
Shoe on the left: Brand New Road Glove
Shoe on the right: Road Glove w/ ~ 600 miles 
Forefoot
Shoe on the left: Brand New Road Glove
Shoe on the right: Road Glove w/ ~ 600 miles

Heel
Shoe on the left: Brand New Road Glove
Shoe on the right: Road Glove w/ ~ 600 miles
As you can tell from the model with about ~ 600 miles of running (not including dozens and dozens and dozens of walking miles), it takes a LOT to retire this shoe.  I find that the nominal cushioning along with the sole provides just enough protection while running, yet allows the runner to have a solid feel of the ground.  

Impressions

First Run
When I first went for a run in the Road Glove, it felt as if there was arch support under the foot.  
Notice the so-called arch support
It wasn’t very comfortable at first, but it didn’t really inhibit my running either.  Thinking about it more than 5 months later, it really wasn’t that big of a deal and after a few weeks of running, I couldn’t tell it was there anymore.  While some would say the Road Glove has some cushioning, it is definitely more minimal than other shoes out there.  Transitioning from the Hattori to the Road Glove was interesting because you can really notice a few millimeters difference in cushioning.  During those first few runs, I was very cognizant of the road beneath me.  The ground feel is fantastic in this shoe.   

Sock  vs Sockless, and Breathability
Again, I hate running sockless.  This shoe is fine for running sockless, and I experienced no hot spots during the few runs that I ran without socks.  I’ve read elsewhere that a lot of people don’t like running without socks in the Road Glove because the uppers on the back of the shoe really rub against the heel causing chaffing.  Fortunately, I never experienced this while running with or without socks.  Concerning breathability, I think the Road Glove really allows the foot to breathe while running.  Generally speaking, my feet sweat a lot when I run, and I think the Road Glove does a great job allowing my foot to not warm up as much as other shoes have in the past.  I would say that this shoe almost feels like a slipper it’s that comfortable. 


Traction – Road vs Trail
The Road Glove is a unique shoe in that it is great for both the road and the trail.  Yep, I said it, this is a fantastic shoe for the trail.  Here are some pics of the trails I dominated this summer (in New Mexico) while wearing the Road Gloves.





Durability
It’s difficult for me to say anything negative about this shoe.  As an everyday shoe, my primary running shoe, and even as a casual shoe, it took about 500-600 running miles before I decided to retire this pair.  Interestingly, it was the upper that gave out before the sole!  

As you can see, after about 6-7 months of intense use, the uppers of the shoe began to detach from the base.  If it wasn’t for the holes that developed, I probably would have used this pair for another 200-300 miles of running. Great durability. 

Conclusion
Over time, I’m learning that there’s a lot to be said about having multiple pairs of shoes in one’s rotation.  Right now, I’m switching between a few pairs of shoes with drops ranging from 4mm to 0mm.  With that being said, if you’re on a budget and need a shoe that will be fantastic for road running, light to moderate trail running, and as an everyday shoe, I believe that the Road Glove is one of the best shoes on the market currently. 

Do I recommend it?
Remember: shoes are tools, so it's great to have different shoes for different purposes.  With that being stated, if you are on a budget, this is the shoe to buy.  I use the Road Glove for pretty much everything.  It’s a road shoe, trail shoe, everyday shoe, and casual shoe.  I’ve put about 500-600 running miles on this shoe, which doesn’t including walking in it every day from mid-February 2012 to August 2012.  Yeah, it’s incredibly durable.  Yeah, it's fantastic.  

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