Barefoot Shoes

Vapor Glove Merrell Barefoot Initial Review

Merrell Barefoot is bringing to market an incredible minimalist/barefoot shoe in 2013. It’s called the Vapor Glove and when I first pulled the sample pair out of the box Merrell sent me, I thought “Whoa” followed immediately by “Finally!”

Quite sim…

Merrell Barefoot is bringing to market an incredible minimalist/barefoot shoe in 2013. It’s called the Vapor Glove and when I first pulled the sample pair out of the box Merrell sent me, I thought “Whoa” followed immediately by “Finally!” Quite simply, the Vapor Glove is the most minimalist, closest to barefoot shoe that Merrell has made. Like other Merrell Barefoots before it, it features a Vibram rubber sole and a distinctly “Merrell” look. But looks might not tell just how simple a shoe the Vapor Glove is. If you’re a fan of the KSO FiveFingers but could do without the toes, you are in luck. And you should read on for photos and video of what could be the most compelling-yet-simple barefoot shoes in 2013.


The Vapor Glove is a 3.5 mm Vibram rubber outsole, a 2mm EVA midsole, and a laced, super airy and thin flexible upper. They’re incredibly flexible and lightweight. They have a distinct rubber toe bumper that lends structure to the front of the shoes while protecting the toes, giving them something to push on and lift the front of the shoes when dorsiflexing. Take a look around the shoes: Like other Merrell Barefoots, the Vapor Gloves have a familar “sling” that wraps around the heel. This adds just a bit more structure to the shoes, I suppose. They also have a useful heel tab to make it easier to put them on. Laces are quick to tigthen or loosen, which is another Merrell feature I’ve come to appreciate.

New yet familiar soles

As noted above, the Vapor Glove has a 3.5mm Vibram outsole and a 2mm EVA midsole. Any FiveFingers fans find that familiar? That’s precisely the sole structure of the venerable KSO FiveFingers. Obviously, the Vapor Gloves aren’t toe shoes like Vibrams, but otherwise, the Vapors and the KSOs have a lot in common. One difference in the Vapor Glove sole is that it features an intricate diamond cut that givesv the sole more flexibility. Dorisflexing with the Vapor Gloves is a piece of cake. Also, thanks to the lack of structure in the soles, I suspect these will work very well for those with wider feet. The soles shoulds simple lay down flat for wider feet. One of the great things about Vibram FiveFingers is how they almost hug the foot like a second skin. Most VFF models have so little structure in their soles that you almost forget the shoes are there. Well, not a lot of non-FiveFingers have pulled off this design feat. However, the Vapor Gloves feel very close to the same. In other words, if you want to have a shoe on but sorta forget you have a shoe on, you’re probably going to want to try these out. You’ll note that the soles have foot-like curves to them at the heel, midfoot, and arch. None of these are structural, so unlike, say, the Trail Gloves, you don’t feel much if any narrowing of the last at the arch. Again, the Vapor Gloves are akin to FiveFingers KSOs in that the soles are super flexible and shaped to hug the foot (but not to provide support). Meanwhile, ground feel is very, very good with the Vapor Gloves. Textures are readily felt through the soles. Whichever side designed these soles — Merrell or Vibram — my hats off to you. While I am often unsure just how well photos showing a rolled up shoe or a shoe with a bent sole capture a soles dynamic flexibility (or lack thereof), these in-hand squeeze and roll tests are worth sharing. And note how I rolled up a Vapor Glove and just stuck it inside the other shoe:
I do have two nitpicking critiques of the soles. One is that the bumper carries on a grippy texture to it that made the front of the shoes (the rounded bumper that wraps the toes) want to grab surfaces like carpet. It never tripped me up, but it did surprise me when it happened from time to time.
Two, and perhaps more importantly, I would have liked to see the soles wrap up either side of the foot at either side of the forefoot just a little more. This would allow for a bit more protection of the upper (and also more sole to flatten out for expanding and/or wide feet). Ultimately, these are nits and don’t do anything to taint my overall take on the soles of the Vapor Glove. They are fantastic.

The uppper and inside

Vapor Gloves have a very simple upper composed of primarily one layer of very breathable, super flexible fabric. Lookswise it has a techy quality to it, but function-wise it’s flexible and soft like a well worn lightweight cotton t-shirt. The tongue and heel of the Vapor Gloves have a secondary layer of fabric, which lends the shoe a little more structure, but this layer is also quite thin. A cool breeze will blow right through the shoes, which will make them great for warmer wear. Winter, on the other hand, probably not so much. The fit with the laces and the soft upper is very comfortably snug. As for the insides of the Vapors, they are seamless and the Vapor Gloves are clearly built to be worn barefooted (though you could wear socks in them if you wanted). Make sure you take a look at the photo of the inside of the toe box. Note the orange footbed doesn’t really capture the full width of the shoe, which goes out to the white/grey sidewalls.

Flexible Soles and Uppers = Barefoot Shoe Best Practices!

You probably thought I was done talking about the Vapor Glove soles, but some photos of the shoes on-foot do the best job telling the story of the shoe’s flexibility. Dorsiflexing my toes is a breeze, standing on my toes is easy and feels unrestrained, putting weight on the shoes collapses and flattens the soles, etc. These shoes don’t get in the way of my feet. I forget they are there. Actually, they make me feel like so many other minimalist shoes with more involved soles are ultimately a bit too distracting/disconnecting for my feet. Check this photo gallery of the Vapor Gloves on foot and see just how flexible they are:


The Vapors are geared towards runners (probably more road than trail) and fitness enthusiasts. I’ve not put them through running paces at this time other than a few sprints. No surprises or complaints. Again, the Vapor Gloves are like Merrell’s non-toed FiveFingers, so the experience is somewhat similar. With almost no cushioning, you have to pay attention to your steps. Biomechanics feel similar to being actually barefoot for walking around, jumping, landing (be careful falling a few feet not to pound your heels!), etc. The soles make for a grippy experience. I happened to wear them on a boat for a coastal fishing trip this past weekend off of Charleston and felt incredibly sure-footed on a very wet and bumpy boat ride (Thanks Hurricane Sandy!). This was a pleasant surprise. Though this can only be called an initial review given the limits of my field testing (more to come on that), the Vapors show a lot of promise if you’re after a shod experience that gets you close-to-barefoot. Just as all barefoot shoes mute the sensational friction and dust-particle-driven experience of being actually barefoot, so will the Vapor Gloves keep your feet assuredly not barefoot. What they will do is make you keenly aware of what you’re stepping on, what surfaces you’re walking/running on, etc. It’s not barefoot, but for a shoe with an incredibly durable rubber shoe, the Vapor Gloves are going to get you about as close to barefoot as can be reasonably expected. Compared to other shoes in their class of sole thickness (Altra Adams, certain Vivo Barefoots like Aqua Lites, or huaraches like Xero Shoes Connects), the Vapor Gloves just might be the best yet — mind that KSO, Classic, and Sprint FiveFingers may be marginally better … … And I’m probably splitting hairs.

Video review

Concluding thoughts for now

If you can’t tell, I really like my Vapor Gloves. Probably the best compliment I can give them is that after wearing them all day long, I have no thought of taking them off. To me, this is one of the best tests of a “barefoot shoe” and it runs totally opposite the experience of most footwear (for me), which is that after wearing shoes all day I usually can’t wait to get them off my feet. Not so with the Vapor Gloves — they keep my feet happy because my feet don’t know the shoes are there. And what else, really, is there to say? How about this: the Vapor Glove is available online for $80 or less — REI (some on sale!) | Zappos has’em | So does The Shoe Mart Also, since this initial review, Greg has written a CrossFit and Running review here as has Erin reviewed the women’s Vapor Glove. Questions? Thoughts? What do you think? Talk to me in the comments!

By Justin

Justin Owings is a deadlifting dad of three, working from Atlanta. When he's not chasing his three kids around, you'll find him trying to understand systems, risk, and human behavior.

72 replies on “Vapor Glove Merrell Barefoot Initial Review”

Oh my GOD!!! Ive worn the merrell trail glove pretty much excluivley the past 2 years wearing out the whole sole on one and on my 2nd pair now for my freshman year of xc. (LETS GET EM AT STATE BUCS) I lovee the trail gloves but these look ridiculous. I think i may have found the perfect flat for this coming track season. I cant wait to get a chamce to try this out to bad they dont come out til next sppring hopefully in time for track. As always awesome review!!

I hope they come in all black. I tried the new balance minimus zero but they were too narrow and the 4E was too much.

Only $80? That is pretty good for those shoes. I have seen leaked pictures and was really interested in these.

I wear VFF Classics a lot now, but if these shoes mimic the same feel without the weird looks, I am sold. I have 2 pairs of expensive Tough Gloves because I wanted a shoe for work; any chance you know if they will come in a solid black color?

If these are wide enough, they might be a nice non-toed shoe for casual summer wear. I am not crazy about the color scheme highlighted in this review, but hopefully there will be other colors to choose from. I tried on two different NB minimalist shoes over the weekend and they were all too narrow. That has been my past experience with Merrells as well. I agree with Justin’s comment about the sole wrapping up around the foot a little more would help with the overall shoe spreading out under a wide foot. The upper seems like it would be forgiving enough.

These look nice, except I hope they have some blander colorways (and tone down the heel strap). Also, I’m not sure how I feel about the toe bumper. I get the purpose as you explained. One thing I miss about my old Free 3s, though, is that the sole was absolutely flat and only the stretch upper existed at the sides and top of the toes at the end. Pure, toe-wiggling freedom. I haven’t had that in any other shoe.

Great review and fantastic photos, Justin! I’m really looking forward to trying these shoes out when they’re available. Have you worn the Inov-8 Bare-X 180? I’m curious to see how these compare to those.

I have not had good luck with Merrell’s so far though the thinner sole of these ones appeals to me. However, the toe bumper turns me off. I sometimes wonder if I am an odd one out as I rarely see this as a complaint by other Merrell reviewers but I really do not like toe bumpers that come up and over the toes/toe box. They can have their use on aggressive and rocky trails though even then I prefer to be without and just watch more carefully where I land and step, but Merrell seems to really like high “over the toe” bumpers on their shoes, even road-dedicated shoes. For some reason on VFF’s the individual toe bumpers do not bother me “as much”, but when they are on a closed toe box option they really do. That said, even though I like my Spyridons, even those individual toe bumpers are a bit much for me at times. This is just one of the reasons (aside from finding them too narrow in the toe box for my toes to splay as I prefer and the sole a little too thick for me) that I have not really enjoyed the Merrell’s I have tried (the Pure Glove, Pace Glove). And I had really, really wanted the Pace Glove to work for me for a cooler/winter option! They seem to work really well for a lot of people. Oh well, I am thinking some smooth Runamocs are more up my alley (wide, no toe bumpers).

It is nice though that they are making the Vapor (is there another name for a women’s version?) to give those who do find Merrell’s to work great for them a thinner sole option. I’ll probably try some on if I come across a pair as I am always trying on what is out there when I can, but I don’t foresee buying a pair.

These shoes look awesome and really intrigued me when I first saw them, even though I’ve had a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves and it wasn’t the greatest experience.
I have a ridiculously wide foot, to the point that the only shoes I find wide enough are Vivobarefoot Aqua Lites that are sized up.
With the Trail Gloves, I ended up walking around on the upper of the shoe, especially around the lateral arch area, because they were far too narrow and the outsole was cut-in in that area. Also, the part of the shoe where my toes began was cramped so badly that my pinky toe actually forced the upper of the shoe out over the outsole.
All of that made for an unpleasant fit as well as water rampantly getting inside of the shoe.
My point is that your comment about wanting the outsole wrapped up around the shoe higher (like all Vivobarefoot soles do) is a very good point. I think Merrell needs to take the time to either bring the sole of this shoe up higher, or laminate some kind of water-resistant material around the lower edge of the upper where it meets the outsole to make it less likely to get water inside of the shoe.
Also, consider making a significantly wider version (specifically at the mid-foot/arch area) of your shoes for people like me who love the quality of merrell shoes but cannot cram their foot into the narrow lasts you use.
Other than that, I do like seeing that they seemed to have made a more natural last compared to the Trail Glove; the arch area hasn’t been cut-in on the lateral side of the foot.


What I’ve found is that the more a sole is flexible/thin, the less the last seems to matter because the sole can flex outward to accommodate a variety of arches and foot widths. Having a bit of extra “wrap” up the sides would help do this better though — and this post really helps explain why:

Though some don’t like the bumper on these, it’s almost a non-issue similar to how the bumper on each toe on a pair of FiveFingers doesn’t do much. It’d be distracting/annoying if the bumper of the Vapor Gloves was hard or pushed on your toes (it doesn’t), but my only real gripe about it is that it’s overly grippy.

Cute siamese cat, but aren’t they all, and so smart. Back to the shoes, they seem awesome, given they have other color options.

As someone who has badly jammed/bruised my toes more than once on trails while wearing KSO Treks, I’m really excited for that toe bumper. The picture of one Vapor rolled up inside the other, plus your testimony that these are just like the original KSO (but with better tread) may make these guys the ultimate new trail shoe.

Excellent review Justin. I think i have found my new running shoes for 2013. I have KSO treks, merrell trail gloves, and lunar sandals. I love wearing the trail gloves on the weekends when i am not running. (I don’t run in them cause it stinks up the shoe too much to wear causally). My treks are black leather and a little hot for summer. These look to be perfect.

Any ideas on how durable the materials may be? I really enjoyed the minimus trail zeros, but the thin synthetic material of the shoe did not hold up.

Looks great, but why the huge toe-bumper? Sole looks like a road shoe. I too hope they come in regular colors! I’m not down with the super-bright in your face colors we get in most minimal shoes these days.

I’m really intrigued by these, thanks for the preview! I’ve been having a really hard time lately with the inconsistent sizing on the VFFs and just developing a lot of blisters and hotspots with them when I run. (I think maybe I have super-high arches? I can hardly get the velcro strap to connect on my Treks. :D) But I’ve been absolutely loving my Trail Gloves for running on trails and would looooooove to have a thinner-soled shoe for my road running and whatnot. I have to second everybody else’s hope for some different colors, though… I know we’re all used to being told that our shoes are ugly when we wear toe shoes, but I’m afraid the color combo on this one would actually cause bystanders to suffer from seizures.

Interesting to read all the comments about the color.

First, there will be black/grey version, so that should make a few of you happy 🙂

Second, the orange seen here actually look pretty good in real life. It may seem really loud, but I’ve gotten good comments on it.

Oh and there will be a women’s version, too.

If these come in a super xtra wide, I might finally have a less freaky-looking option than my VFFs! …Not that I really care at this point, but it would make my wife happy.

Hi Justin,
Great review. Sounds like you really love these shoes.

Could you comment on the weight of the Vapor Gloves? How does the weight compare to Vibram See-Yas, KSOs, Bikilas, Vivo Barefoot Ultras, etc?



these are my next shoes after my neos, which are lasting way longer since i’ve been barefoot for quite some time, minus a job interview, next spring when these come out, or summer, i’ll grab a pair


Excellent review. Very excited about their release. My only question is will they be available in different colours. I know it’s a personal preference thing but that peach colour really isn’t doing it for me 😉

Looks promising!
They seem light but I wonder about their exact weight.
I guess I couldn’t find that information in the review, right?

Awesome! I loved my FF komodos but it was to complicated to get the toes in, and well since the offer no toe protection, I almost teared my left foot methatarsals when I didnt notice a pointy rock and landed hard on it. Since then I am not sure I am going back to FF and these seem just perfect for training!



I swear yours are black — is it just the lighting? I know they are coming out with a blue/black colorway, but it looks way more obviously blue in the stock image I’ve seen.

Lightweight and super flexible? Good. It may even be more flexible than KSOs, I don’t think I’ve seen KSOs flex downwards like that.

They added more grooves, which means it is definitely more flexible than the Road glove/Trail glove sole.

$80 Price is okay, just wait for a slight sale (20%) and it’s reasonable.

“3.5 mm Vibram rubber outsole, a 2mm EVA midsole” … that’s KSO level of feel. Great!

The upper isn’t water-resistant probably?

Have the solved the midfoot problem of being too narrow? It seems so. I wonder why there’s such a large toe bumper though.

Thanks, I like the black /navy blue version. It passes off as normal shoes if it didn’t have a big MERRELL logo on it. I guess that’s why Vivobarefoot is better branded, even if the construction is shoddier and it’s more expensive and hard to find.

The orange colorway is hideous though.

I’ve been looking for shoes for the winter, that can easily handle socks.
Five fingers are my fav, but I’m not going to wear socks in them, so these might just give a bit more warm for up here in Canada.

@@@justin-about the color,
mine are dark blue.
sure, strong lightning makes them look
brighter but that’s the blue/black colorway you mean.
great review, btw!

Look good! as others have said, i hope they come in different colors as orange seems a bit obnoxious/overt. overall awesome looking shoe though! I also hope the upper doesn’t rip as it reminds me of the Saucony Hattori which eventually ripped on me… Excited to try them when they come out!!!!!!!!

$80 is a great starting price. It seems that brands have assumed that $100+ was a starting point (hello VivoBarefoot???). The Vapor looks very…orange…but that is OK. BTW, thanks to Justin, I am getting the Altra Adam for only $50 shipped! Thank You!!!

I live near the Rockvale Outlets in Lancaster, PA and they have a Merrell store there. I got my first pair of Merrells (the blue Trail Glove) for under $80 and love them as a do-it-all shoe, although I still default to Vibrams as my primary running “shoe”.

@anon.. the road gloves for COLD weather?
mmm… they are made of about 70% airy mesh! one of merrell’s most ventillated
shoes-MEANT FOR hummid/hot CONDITIONS.


@anon is right, the Merrell’s are great in cold weather, cause you can easily fit socks in them. Wore them all winter last year (v. mild however), looking forward to these Vapor gloves.

Hopefully they are wider than the trail glove last, in both the mid-foot and toe box.

From the pics, it looks like they still curve the big toe area inward (when will they learn?). Viviobarefoot can get away with doing that since they are clown-shoe wide. Merrell, not so much. It will be interesting to see how these work in the flesh.

I would recommend any of inov8’s Bare-X line for feel similar to the KSOs, the sole is around 3mm and completely flat. They are the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.

I put out around 80-100 miles a week, mixing roads and trail. What is the life of the shoe? Will I need to replace them after a month or two like my KSOs?

I’ve been wearing the Merrell Barefoot Run Pace Glove’s for over a year now and I really like them. I wear them road and trail running. How does the Vapor Glove compare to the Pace Glove, overall?

I got my Black Vapor Glove last week, I wear size 8 and it weighs 4.9 oz [139 grams], Incredibly flexible. And that’s what got me into barefoot shoes. I’m a tv producer and photographer. I spend a lot of time not looking where I’m going so I need my foot to be able feel the terrain and I work mostly in Texas and the Deep South so the thinner the better. I used to wear flip flops on hot days and Puma driving shoes or Chucks on warm days. Then one day I slipped in flip flops, caught my little toe in chicken wire and tore off my toe nail and broke my toe. FYI, that hurt. So I bought a pair of NB MT00 and the Trail Glove. The NBs didn’t fit right or feel good but I liked the Merrell so I bought another color and then a Sonic Glove and when they were on sale the water slip-ons [I NEVER wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row, I prefer not even in the same week so I have maybe 50 pairs of assorted Pumas, Chucks, loafers and cowboy boots]. These new super thin shoes are the best yet for work.

Just done my first miles in these. Lovely uppers, feel like my Baregrips. I marginally prefer the sole to my early FF, but one problem (isn’t there always ?). I got a blister on the bottom outside mid foot. Hopefully the skin will toughen there, though I haven’t any such issues with the Baregrips over longerdistances. Maybe I should have waited for the new Vivos, but these are a terrific pair of ‘racing slippers’.

Hey Justin, I just ordered these in a size 7.5 and 8 and cannot decide which is right for me. The 8 feels really comfortable where as the 7.5 has the more glove like feeling. When wearing the 7.5, because they are a little tighter on the sides, I feel like it has a tendency to make it more difficult to balance(as if the side of my foot dives) since my feet seem to feel wider than is meant to go there. Then again, they may loosen up and it may just need to be worn since its such a flexible shoe. Front on the size 8 has too much room, whereas the 7.5 I can just feel the rubber roof with big toe. I want what the size that is more responsive for athletic activities and lateral movements, etc. I assume the smaller size is more barefoot like but then again it may not be where it rounds out the sides of my foot….any suggestions/advice?

I’m quite fond of my Vapor Gloves, but do you find they’re sized a bit long? I’m in the same size 12 as with all my other Merrells (and pretty much very other US-sized shoe), and the width is great, but I have a lot of extra toe room. Not a big problem, just gotta be careful not to trip. 🙂

Hey! I’m really new to this whole barefoot-running thing so I got a question. I just got myself a pair of these but as a novice I’d appriciate any tips you could give me on how the shoe should fit because obviously these shoes doesnt feel like your average kicks. When it comes to barefoot shoes, especially these, what should I look out for?


Thanks for the detail review. I will certainly check out these shoes. But, I’ll probably have the same problem with them as I have with almost all the new minimalist running shoes. They claim to accomodate natural foot form and motion, but they do it for only 2/3 of the population. The shape of the front of the toe boxes these days are in a fad (not driven by function). They are mostly pretty much wedge shaped instead of a more symetrical, blunt rounded shape, like they used to be. I (and about 1/3 of the population) have Morton’s toe, where the second (and sometimes 3rd) toe is longer than the 1st (big) toe. The wedge shaped front of the toe box, literally cuts off the front of my second toe, all for nothing but fad. If the toe box had the more symetrical, rounded, blunt front, then it would much better accomodate my foot. For example, I have the Merrell Trail grove. A decent shoe, but not as thin as I prefer. Normally I could wear a 10.5 or 11.0 and the shoe would fit “like a glove,” but because of the wedge shaped toe box I have to move up to an 11.5 and leave almost an inch of shoe sticking out in front. Worst of all, when I increase shoe size to leave room for the Morton’s toe, the width of the shoe becomes excessive, so that when I lace them up tight enough, the material over the top of the mid-foot bunches up, creases, and cuts into the top of my foot. I cannot wear the Merrell Trail gloves w/o socks because they lacerate the top of my foot if I wear them barefoot. This is not just a Merrell problem. I have New Balance Minimus Hi-rez and I had to move up in size just because of the wedge shaped toe box they have also. At least the Hi-rez uppers are so soft and seamless and slightly more stretchy so that they don’t bunch up as much as the Merrells and cut up the top of my feet. I hope the vapor glove uppers are soft enough, seamless enough, and stretchy enough to compensate for the poor toe box shape forcing me to get over-sized shoes.
Even one of my favorite running mocasins, made by SoftStarShoes, the RunAmoc Dash Lite, with a soft leather upper and perfectly flat 4mm vibram sole (that is re-solable) has the wedge shaped toe box, forcing me up to a sloppy size 11.5. Don’t even get me going about Vibram toed shoes. I would have to use a blow torch to melt and lengthen the 2nd toes.
Morton’s feet, revolt against the Borg! The most reliable footwear for us are the various forms of huarache sandals, and completely bare feet.

@Stephen Price

Dear Stephen,

Some people do have the 2nd toe longer than the first (aka Greek foot), but the foot is not supposed to be “pointy”, but really wedged or fan like. The halux should follow a straight line from the 1st metatarsal and that imaginary line should cross the heel.

Don’t be mad because of that shoe shape. 99% of modern running shoes are “pointy”, leaving 1/3 of the population, as you said, without much of an option. If one of the few models doesn’t conform to your feet shape, chose one of the other hundreds that do and move on.

Check this article about the shape of people who never use shoes and pay special attention to Figures 5 and 6.

Personally, from the pictures, I still think those Merrells are not wedged enough!

Stephen – My experience with the Vapor Glove is there is LOTS of room up front. Too much for me, actually, and a lot more than I have in my Trail Gloves of the same size. The front of the Vapor Glove is almost a symmetrical arc, so you might find it accommodates your footshape pretty well.

I just got a pair of Vapor Gloves yesterday, they feel similar to my KSOs. I have been wearing some True Gloves for quite a while because I can wear them at work/out without looks. The soles on the Vapor gloves are so thin and the upper is so light you can actually see through it! So far I am very happy because its a lot more flexible and lighter than the true glove and other VFF shoes I have.

Hi fellows; was wondering if you chaps can help me with figuring out what shoes size I should get for the Merrell Vapor Glove (Men). Unfortunately, the Men’s version of the Vapor Glove isn’t available in most of the sports shops over here in Singapore. I’d managed to try on 2 other alternate Merrell footwear. I can fit comfortably in the US8.5 of the Merrell Road Glove 2 (Men) & I can just barely squeeze my foot into the US9.5 of the Ladies version of the Vapor Glove (however, for the Ladies Vapor Glove US9.5, my toes have to arch ever so slightly in the toe box area, which probably means it’s a wee bit bordering on the tight side). Yes, I was desperate enough to try on the Ladies’ version of the Vapor Glove to figure out some clue as to what’s my size for the Men’s version will be. My current pair of running shoe is the New Balance Minimus MT00 (which I’m wearing the 2E version of US 9.5), & I have also tried on the US10 (width: ‘D’) version of the latest New Balance Hi Rez & that fits too. So my question is, what size should I get for the Men’s version of the Merrell Vapor Glove if I wish to purchase it online? Thank you.


1. Go to and click through to any online retailer that carries Merrell Vapor Glove. For example, runningwarehouse is one that does.

2. Find Vapor product page on that online retailer website.

3. Click on the “Show me how it fits!” button, which launches the shoefitr app.

4. Fill it out with the shoe model and size that you know fits you well.

5. See a recommendation for your optimal Vapor size. It’ll look like this:

Poor design, poor construction. I have some 2 year old trail gloves which are fantastic. I wanted something lighter. Got the vapor gloves. The soles are the best I’ve ever felt; however, the uppers are absolute junk. Where the tongue meets the upper, it’s either melted or glued in plus stitching, it forms a hard edge that cut into the top of my foot. I wore them for 5 miles and didn’t notice until I took them off. Had sores on the tops of my feet that bled for almost two weeks. Worst shoes ever.

What about the sizing, I loved my MT10s in 11 but feels like I have to get 11.5 (which seems already to big for me).. The tool in runningwarehouse is telling me to go down a full size from the 11 (MT10) to 10 in the Vapor!

Kinda need urgent help on this one!

@Cesar – I am typically a 9.5 or 42 European in footwear. I never liked the feeling of the Merrell Glove line as I felt they were rather narrow throughout the shoe. However, I discovered that part of the reason was that they tend to run long. Even so, the Vapor Glove seems to be the only one that fit me comfortably as the upper is rather non-restrictive. The thing is, in US size, I had to go a full size down to 8.5 (although the box indicates that it is a 42 European).

I actually bought two pairs (in different colorways). The first one was a size 9 and the second being the 8.5. Both fit great, but for a better fit (i.e. not have about an inch of space between the toes and the inside front of the toebox), the “tool” at runningwarehouse was correct in saying you would have to go a full size down.

As mmm said: the sole is very good… but the upper.
I bought a pair one month ago, and after running about 50 km there is a hole in the upper (where it meets the upper part of the rubber on my big toe).

I’ve had about 6 runs in my Vapors. Probably 40 km. I absolutely love them. I really like the minimal sole and I really like the light weight. No sign of wear yet with the upper. And no irritation for me with the upper.

I had a pair of size 12 Trail Gloves and ended up size 11 1/2 with the Vapor. The Vapor definitely has a wider toe box than the Trail Glove, though not as wide as Inov-8 or Altra. I have a narrow heel, a little bit of Mortons tow and now have a wide forefoot and I’m quite satisfied with the Vapor. I’d be even happier with a bit more width at the toe but the Vapor is flexible enough that it is not an issue.

I’ve ran in several brands of minimal shoes in the past 3 years and inadvertently ended with shoes with relatively thick & cushioned soles. The Vapor is such a delightful transition for me. I highly recommend them.

I don’t own any Merrells for comparison but I typically wear a size 13 in athletic shoes (both pairs of my VFF’s are EU 46 and fit perfectly). I’m debating whether to order the Vapor Gloves in my usual size 13 or to go down to a size 12, since 12.5 is not available. Any sizing advice anyone can offer is appreciated.


I think size 12 is likely to be a better fit for you. Maybe even better than 12.5. The Vapor DEFINITELY runs large. that said, most of the Merrell running shoes are a bit narrower in the heel and a bit wider in the toebox than other shoes, in my experience. keep that in mind when ordering. The other dynamic is the Vapor is very, very flexible shoe, both the sole and the upper. with that flexibility, you might tolerate a more snug fit because it will have some give.

Thanks for the sizing advice, Robert. I ended up getting the Vapor Glove in size 12 and they fit very well. The left one is very slightly snug width-wise, but that may just be a matter of lacing and tying. Length-wise I think it’s good that I did not go with a size 13. I wouldn’t mind if the toe box had a little less taper on the side of my little toe, but that’s a minor concern. Overall, I’d say they feel very good. Excluding Fivefingers, the only shoes I have that are more comfortable are my Stem Primal Origins.

Robert, thanks for that excellent link on alternative lacing techniques. I may give one of those a try, though my Vapor Gloves do seem to be stretching out a bit, so it may not be necessary.

So I finally made the gamble & bought a pair of US8 from Amazon. Just received them recently & the fit is perfect. Another commentator have told me to try the shoefitr web plug-in on runningwarehouse & that plug-in recommended me to go for a US7.5 Vapour Glove. Based on feedback from Merrell (as in the official company), they recommended me to go for US7.5 (I told Merrell that I fit into a US9.5 ladies’ Vapour Glove & they told me the general rule is to subtract 2 sizes for Men’s counterpart). Based on the general feedback from the commentators, they said to go for the same size that works for me when I tried the Road Glove 2, i.e. US8.5. So, factoring the various “vibe” that I got from Amazon & other Merrell online retailers (that the Vapour Glove “wears large”), I decided to gambled for an US8.0 of the Vapour Glove from Amazon & the fit…well, it’s awesome. Here’s a photo of me with my foot all the way to the front; notice I can still stick a finger in:
So, really, thanks fellows! For making this happen! For those who are “forced” to purchase online without the opportunity to try on this specific model physically, do note the other shoe brands & models that I tried (a few posts above). Thanks again fellows!

I just have to chime in again here. I am really loving my Vapors. I really appreciate the ground feel and the lightweight. I feel barefoot but with just enough protection to be comfortable. And so far, they are holding up well for me. I think they will last a long time for me.

Hi Justin,
Was wondering if you could help. I really love the vapor gloves sole, but it is not wide enough for me and i do not like VFFs. Do you know of any other shoe with this same awesome sole?

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