The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 is the successor to the very popular Vapor Glove 3. After my test of the Merrell Vapor Glove 3, I could already recommend the shoe to many. How is it with 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, you will notice quite quickly that there are different models. The difference is indeed relevant and has a serious impact on the feel and properties.
Very tempting is the model Trail Glove 5*, as this looks like the new generation at first glance. However, this one has significantly less to do with a minimal shoe and even less to do with a barefoot shoe. If you are interested in the shoe, I strongly assume that this point is important to you.
When buying the Merrell Glove, you should therefore go for the Merrell Vapor Glove 4* and not Trail. This is true for every generation of the Glove series. This is because the Trail versions have no zero setting and a rather thick sole. This means that the Trail shoe is almost not flexible at all.
Is the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 a barefoot shoe?
No, the Vapor Glove 4 from Merrell* is not a clear barefoot shoe. However, I like the shoe and am happy to recommend it, as you will learn in my review. It meets a few criteria, which make the shoe better than conventional footwear. Let’s take a look at the features of barefoot shoes in the context of the Vapor Glove 4.
|Eigenschaft / Kriterum||Merrell Vapor Glove 4|
|Wide cut||No (Toe box only)|
Merrell Vapor Glove 4 & Barefoot Shoes Features
Even if Merrell writes Barefoot on its shoes and advertises them partly also so, it is much more about minimal footwear. Gladly also called natural footwear. With this, we also see that there is hardly any difference to the Merrell Vapor Glove 3. This is also not surprising. Already visually, the two models look very similar. But we’ll get to the difference in more detail later.
Merrell Vapor Glove 4 with zero drop
A very important point for the natural posture as well as the natural stance is the zero position. This is the minimum 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 it is the case when we are walking without shoes. Most conventional shoes have a heel drop (heel) at the heel, which distorts the stance.
Merrell Vapor Glove 4 ist flexibel
The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 offers quite good flexibility. The shoe can be bent and turned in any direction. This applies to the upper shoe as well as the sole. It is even possible to recreate the classic image of a barefoot shoe, on which the shoe is completely turned and pressed.
Compared to a pure barefoot shoe, however, the flexibility in the sole is somewhat lower. This was also the case with the predecessor, Vapor Glove 3. Nevertheless, the flexibility satisfies me. In the point of barefoot feeling, this has a slightly different effect. But more about that later. Compared to normal shoes, the Vapor Glove 4 makes a very good picture.
By the way, the flexibility has another advantage for the shoe. It can be transported very space-saving. For hikes and backpacking a big plus point, as I myself may already determine in practice.
Merrel Vapor Glove 4 with slim fit
Toe clearance, or a wide fit, is also an important factor in barefoot shoes. Conventional shoes squeeze the toes together, especially in the toe box. This can lead to health problems and damage. The Vapor Glove 4 unfortunately has a relatively narrow fit. However, for weight training or sports in general, this can be quite good, as more pressure can be applied and better power transmission can also be used.
However, if you are new to barefoot shoes or just looking for a minimal shoe, it’s not really a problem. Wearing barefoot shoes a lot strengthens the feet, which also makes them a bit wider. For this reason, the Vapor Glove 4 is a bit narrow for my foot. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case for you. Compared to its predecessor, the fit seems a little wider to me.
By the way, it looks different with the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 3D*. There is a very pronounced and wide toe box there. Disadvantage of the model 3D is in my opinion, however, in the optics. Of course, this is a matter of individual taste. I have also written in detail about this in the test report of the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 3D.
What is the barefoot feel like with the Merrell Vapor Glove?
Who is very much in barefoot shoes on the road will be somewhat disappointed here. However, it is also not a barefoot shoe, but much more a minimal shoe.
The Merrell Vapor Glove 4 does not have a drop (zero position). The shoe is also very light. In size 45, the shoes weigh only 180 grams. Thus, it is also lighter than its predecessor. The flexibility of the sole can be seen, but is not as strong as in barefoot shoes. The fit is unfortunately a bit narrow, which affects the barefoot feeling.
With the Vapor Glove 4, we don’t feel the ground as much as we do with barefoot shoes. Not every branch and stone can be felt. Thus, there is a slightly more muted perception. However, I think this is very good for beginners and beginners 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. Nevertheless, I also like to wear the Merrell Vapor Glove 4. In some situations, the firmer hold on the foot and the good profile are advantageous. I particularly like the Glove 4 for running, weight training and crossfit.
Difference between Merrell Vapor Glove 3 and 4
Visually, both generations of the Merrell Vapor Glove appear very similar. The texture also shows that the differences are quite small. The Glove 4’s fit feels a bit wider than the Glove 3’s. Various weak points of the third generation have been somewhat reinforced 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).
At first glance, the sole of the Vapor Glove 4 appears to be significantly thicker and more stable. However, appearances are deceptive here. The thickness of both soles is the same. Only the profile is different and somewhat more pronounced in the Glove 4. This has no effect on the wearing comfort, flexibility and barefoot feel.
I find the change in the color selection a bit of a shame. This is somewhat smaller with the Merrell Vapor Glove 4*. Unfortunately, the red, which I liked extremely well, is no longer in the range of the Glove 4. Generally, you are still well served with the Vapor Glove 3*, but you get small optimizations with the fourth generation of the shoe.
Conclusion – opinion of the Merrell Vapor Glove 4
Let’s come to the end of the test and my opinion of the shoe. Can I recommend the Vapor Glove 4? I answer this question with a yes! I like the look and feel of the shoe. Especially for sports I can recommend the quite robust shoe. Also for beginners, the Merrell Vapor Glove 4 is a very good choice*.
Advantageous here is first of all the still somewhat cushioned barefoot feel and the normal look. The shoe is neither negative in everyday life, nor in sports. This can not be said of many cheap barefoot shoes from Asia. Even big brands like Vivobarefoot, Leguano or Sole Runner are usually more eye-catching. Not to mention the Vibram FiveFingers, which in my opinion are very negatively out of the ordinary. You can also check out the review of the Vibram FiveFingers Classic. I myself see no advantage in toe shoes, as you can read in my article about toe shoes and barefoot shoes.
You get my blessing for the purchase of the Merrell Vapor Glove 4* with this. The fourth generation is unfortunately no longer available in as many colors as its predecessor. I especially liked the red model extremely, as you can see in my review of the Merrell Vapor Glove 3. By the way, the Glove 4 also has small optimizations compared to its predecessor. Thus, weak points of the third generation have been somewhat stabilized.