Last summer, Merrell announced their partnership with Vibram to produce a line of barefoot shoes. I was recently sent a pair of the women's Pace Gloves to test out. Offering just enough protection for your feet, these shoes provide a great barefoot experience whether running on the trails or just walking the streets.
The Merrell Pace Glove is made from an ultra lightweight, breathable air mesh upper with a Vibram Trail Glove sole. A synthetic leather rear foot sling, combined with Merrell's Omni-Fit lacing system, keeps these barefoot shoes snug against your feet for a glove like fit. The 0 mm ball to heel drop ensures you are getting the real barefoot experience.
I love my Vibram FIve Fingers Flow for beach running, but I would feel self conscious wearing them around town and they aren't breathable enough for trail running. The Merrell Barefoot shoes offer a nice alternative for those of you looking for a more regular style shoe, one that you can easily put on and take off. The Pace Gloves better enable you to wear socks, something I like to do when trail running or hiking.
If you are new to barefoot running, I would highly recommend you download the Merrell Go Barefoot training application that takes you through four stages of training exercises to help you master the proper form. I was lucky enough to get a barefoot running lesson from Lee Saxby but still found the Merrell exercises extremely helpful.
Weighing less than 5 oz each, the Pace Gloves also make the perfect camp shoe or travel running shoe. You can easily throw the barefoot shoes into your suitcase or carry on for running or hiking at your destination. Some Merrell Barefoot styles are more urban looking so would make the perfect all around travel shoe.
Bottom Line: The Merrel Barefoot Pace Glove is a great alternative to Vibram Five Fingers if you want the barefoot experience without the hassle and awkward style of shoving your toes into separate compartments.