Merrell Vapor Glove 4 - Test & Review

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Merrell Vapor Glove 4 - Test & Review
Merrell Vapor Glove 4 - Test & Review
The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 is the successor of the very popular Vapor Glove 3, and after testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 3 I could already recommend the shoe to many people. How about the fourth generation? Is the new shoe better? Where are the differences? Is the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 recommended as a barefoot shoe? I bought the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 and tested it for you.

Merrell Glove 4 - Trail vs Vapor

When looking for the Merrell Glove 4, it quickly becomes apparent that there are different models. The difference is indeed relevant and has a serious effect on the day feeling and features.

Very tempting is the Trail Glove 5* model, as it looks like the new generation at first glance. But it has much less to do with a minimal shoe and even less with a barefoot shoe. If you are interested in the shoe, I strongly believe that this point is important to you.

When buying the Merrell Glove you should therefore choose the Merrell Vapor Glove 4* and not Trail. This applies to every generation of the Glove series. Because the Trail versions have no zero setting and a quite thick sole. This means that the Trail shoe is hardly flexible at all.

Is the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 a barefoot shoe?

No, the Vapor Glove 4 from Merrell* is not a distinct barefoot shoe. Nevertheless, I like the shoe and will gladly recommend it to others, as you will learn in my test. It meets a few criteria that make the shoe better than conventional footwear. Let's take a look at the characteristics of barefoot shoes in relation to the Vapor Glove 4.
Merrell Vapor Glove 4 & properties of barefoot shoes
Property / Criterion Merrell Vapor Glove 4
Zerodrop Yes
Thin sole Relative
Flexibel Yes
Wide cut No
Lightweight shoe Yes
Breathable Yes

Even though Merrell writes Barefoot on his shoes and sometimes advertises them as such, they are much more minimal footwear. Also often called natural footwear. With this we also see that there is hardly any difference to the Merrell Vapor Glove 3*. This is not surprising. Already optically the two models look very similar. But we will come to the difference later.

Merrell Vapor Glove 4 zerodrop

A very important point for the natural posture as well as the natural stand is the zerodrop. This is the least that a barefoot shoe must offer. The Vapor Glove 4 offers us this zero position. The heel and toes are on the same level. Just like when we are walking without shoes. Most conventional shoes have a bruise (heel) on the heel that distorts the stance.
Zerodrop on the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 (no heel)
Zerodrop on the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 (no heel)

Merrell Vapor Glove 4 is flexible

The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 offers quite good flexibility. The shoe can be bent and turned in any direction. This applies to the upper as well as to the sole. You can even recreate the classic image of a barefoot shoe, on which the shoe is completely turned and pressed.​​​​​​​
Merrell Vapor Glove 4 - The typical barefoot shoe
Merrell Vapor Glove 4 - The typical barefoot shoe

Compared to a pure barefoot shoe, however, the flexibility in the sole is somewhat less. This was already the case with the predecessor, Vapor Glove 3. I am still satisfied with the flexibility. In terms of the barefoot feeling, the effect is somewhat different. But more about that later. Compared to normal shoes, the Vapor Glove 4 makes a very good impression.

The flexibility has another advantage for the shoe. It can be transported very space-saving. For hiking and backpacking a big advantage, as I myself have already noticed in practice.​​​​​​​

Merrel Vapor Glove 4 with slim fit​​​​​​​

The toe freedom, or rather a wide fit, is also an important factor in barefoot shoes. Conventional shoes compress the toes especially in the toe box. This can lead to health problems and damage. The Vapor Glove 4 unfortunately has a relatively narrow fit. For weight training or sports in general this can be quite good, as it allows more pressure to be applied and also allows for better power transmission.

However, if you are new to barefoot shoes or just looking for a minimal shoe, this is not really a problem. Wearing barefoot shoes a lot strengthens your feet and makes them a little wider. That's why the Vapor Glove 4 is a little narrow for my foot. With you it doesn't have to be that way. Compared to its predecessor, the fit seems to be a little wider.

By the way, it looks different with the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 3D*. There is a very distinctive and wide toe box. The disadvantage of the 3D model, in my opinion, is its appearance. Of course this is an individual matter of taste.

How's the barefoot feeling on the Merrell Vapor Glove?

If you spend a lot of time in barefoot shoes you will be a little disappointed here. But it is not a barefoot shoe, but rather a minimal shoe.

The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 has no blast (zerodrop). The shoe is also very light. In size 45 the shoe weighs only 180 grams. This makes it lighter than its predecessor. The flexibility of the sole is impressive, but not as strong as barefoot shoes. Unfortunately, the fit is somewhat narrow, which has an effect on the barefoot feeling.​​​​​​​
The sole of the Merrell Vapor Glove 4
The sole of the Merrell Vapor Glove 4

With the Vapor Glove 4 we don't feel the ground as strongly as we do with barefoot shoes. Not every branch and stone can be felt. So there is a slightly more subdued perception. However, I think this is a very good thing for beginners and newcomers with barefoot shoes. The direct entry with extreme barefoot shoes can be too much and fast for some.

I myself have been walking for a long time and in many different barefoot shoes. However, I also like to wear the Merrell Vapor Glove 4, because in some situations the tighter grip on the foot and the good profile are advantageous. I especially like the Glove 4 when running, weight training and crossfit.​​​​​​​

Difference between Merrell Vapor Glove 3 and 4

Optically both generations of the Merrell Vapor Glove appear very similar. Also in the texture it shows that the differences are quite small. Feel the fit of the Glove 4 is a little bit wider than the Glove 3. Various weak points of the third generation have been strengthened a little bit and thus optimized. In addition, the Vapor Glove 4 with 180 grams (size 45) is slightly lighter than the Vapor Glove 3 with 195 grams (size 45).

The sole of the Vapor Glove 4 seems to be much thicker and more stable at first sight. However, appearances are deceptive here. The thickness of both soles is equal. Only the tread pattern is different and a bit more pronounced on the Glove 4. This has no effect on the comfort, flexibility and barefoot feeling.

I find the change in the color selection a little bit a pity. This is a little bit less with the Merrell Vapor Glove 4*. Unfortunately, the red, which I liked very much, is no longer in the Glove 4 range. Generally, you are still well served with the Vapor Glove 3*, but you will find small optimizations with the fourth generation of the shoe.

Conclusion - Opinion on the Merrell Vapor Glove 4

Let's get down to business and my opinion on the shoe. Can I recommend the Vapor Glove 4? The answer to that question is yes! I like the look and feel of the shoe. Especially for sports I can recommend this rather robust shoe. Also for beginners the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 is a very good choice*.

Advantageous here is the more cushioned barefoot feeling and the normal look. The shoe does not have a negative effect neither in everyday life nor during sports. This cannot be said of many cheap barefoot shoes from Asia. Even big brands like Vivobarefoot, Leguano* or Sole Runner* are usually more conspicuous. Not to mention the Vibram FiveFingers*, which in my opinion are very negative. You can also have a look at the Vibram FiveFingers Classic review. I myself don't see any advantage in toe shoes, as you can read in my article about toe shoes and barefoot shoes.
The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 convinced me in the test
The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 convinced me in the test

My blessing on the purchase of the Merrell Vapor Glove 4* is with this. Unfortunately the fourth generation is no longer available in as many colors as its predecessor. I especially liked the red model, as you can see in my Merrell Vapor Glove 3 review. By the way, the Glove 4 also has small optimizations compared to its predecessor. So weaknesses of the third generation have been stabilized a bit.
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