Merrell Barefoot Collection 2011

Vibram Trail Glove sole
Vibram Trail Glove sole used in the Merrell Barefoot Collection 2011

Merrell, a long time provider of outdoor performance footwear, has decided to enter into the minimalist footwear arena with their new Merrell Barefoot Collection 2011. We have received pictures of all the shoes and some summary level marketing materials. This blog entry is mostly our best guess about details. The line includes six models, three women's and three men's. Each model (see detailed pics below) will come in four different color variations (except one that will have three variations).

How close to barefoot?

Even though Merrell is marketing different shoes for trails, running, and casual wear, it appears that each model will share an identical sole design (pictured above). In an all inclusive statement, the marketing material we were provided says:

-Vibram® Trail Glove sole protects and provides traction for varying terrain

We speculate, from examining the photos, that the sole is a relatively thin barefoot-like sole perhaps similar in thickness to the Vibram Five Fingers Trek (or Trek Sport) sole. Merrell also mentions a "Compression-molded EVA midsole provides cushioning" in their marketing materials.

So, there is some extra padding in the midsole. There is no mention in the brochure of the thickness of the sole or midsole. They also say that some models sport a "Internal support construction wrap" and "a midfoot shock absorbtion plate". We are hoping they didn't get too carried away with trying to protect our feet in their "Barefoot Collection".

Also, we don't yet know about the heel-to-toe drop. But, from looking at the pics, the shoes appear very minimal and they could very well have a zero heel-to-toe drop. This is pure speculation on our part, and we can't wait to see the detailed specs! In the end, if they are truly neutral, this makes them a great alternative for those who want a barefoot feel, but don't dig toe shoes and the attention they sometimes garner.

Now, here are the pics! Also, some more speculation on our part about what each model is designed to do.

Men's Merrell Barefoot Collection

In the men's category, there will be the Trail Glove, Tough Glove and True Glove:

  • Trail Glove - The name seems to indicate that this is the men's trail shoe. It has toe protection that extends around the side of the foot and has an overall rugged design.

  • True Glove - We assume this is the shoe directed more towards the running/trainer/crossfit market. The upper has less toe protection and what looks like an overall lighter weight upper.

  • Tough Glove - This may be the most exciting shoe in the men's line. From the looks of it, this shoe will be a great minimalist option for work and casual wear. In brown, black and a funky tan/orange, this shoe should fit in well at any workplace. It is has a stylish, yet traditional look, while being very minimal in the sole. We like this one a bunch.

Women's Merrell Barefoot Collection

In the women's category, there will be the Power Glove, Pace Glove and Pure Glove:

  • Power Glove - What the heck is this thing? The Power Glove has us confused. It looks like a cross between a removable cast and a snow boot. It is not obvious what the big open space on top is all about.

  • Pace Glove - This one may be the counterpart to the men's true glove, a runner/trainer for women. The styling and color choices seem a little bland, but for a minimal running shoe without toes it looks like a good choice if the pricing is right.

  • Pure Glove - Hmm... Anyone seen this look before? To us, it looks very similar to a Vibram Five Fingers Sprint. We are guessing this is a casual/work wear slipper for women. These primary colors should go with just about everything.

So, there you have it, the new Merrell Barefoot Collection 2011. We will be providing more detail right here as we get it, so check back often. For now, what do you think about the line-up? What questions do you have? Any models you're particularly excited about?

Sound off here!

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