Color Options: Men Only – Black/Light Firefly, Boulder Vibrant Orange, Wild Dove/Silver, Saffron Castle Rock, Apollo/Vibrant Orange (pictured)
Weight: 6.8oz per shoe (13.6oz per pair)
Other: 4mm compression molded EVA midsole cushion
Upon receiving my pair of Merrell Barefoot Train Flux Glove Sports, I immediately assumed running in them would be a very similar experience to running in the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove, which is the same mistake I made when I assumed the Embark Glove was going to be just a Gore-tex covered Trail Glove. Although you’re normally safe to assume that Merrell is going to release quality products, it doesn’t mean that their product line isn’t a little confusing, especially when you consider the extensive number of options and the fact that each option is meant for a specific use, despite having similar names. All of the Merrell Barefoot shoe names start and end with the word Barefoot and Glove, respectively. Also, even though two shoes may look alike (e.g., the Flux Glove and the Trail Glove), it does not mean that they will feel at all alike when you are running in them. The intended use of some shoes in the line is easily explained by their title. For example, the “Merrell Barefoot Run Road Glove 2” is, as you might imagine, for running on the road. The title also indicates that it is in its second iteration. Simple enough, but, now, let’s consider the Flux Glove. There are two versions, the Flux Glove and the Flux Glove Sport. Turns out (although you’d be hard pressed to guess based on the names), both Flux Glove models are designed as a multisport training shoe. The difference is that the Sport model has a mesh upper, making it more breathable, while the other model is leather so that it molds to the foot. We’ve found this to be confusing, and feel that it perhaps makes choosing the right shoe for you from the Merrell line a bit more difficult than it should be, especially if you are buying in a store where you don’t have access to the online descriptions. However, once you get past any confusion about the name of a Merrell Barefoot shoe, it’s good to know that what you’re left with is a minimalist shoe made from quality materials that is thoughtfully designed for training/running.
One thing that can be said for most, if not all, Merrells is that you’re likely looking at a more extended break-in period than some minimalist shoe options because of the exaggerated arch contouring. It took roughly 15 miles before I could start to say that these things felt more natural and fitted to my foot. In fact, when I look at them up close, I can actually see where the arch of the shoe has collapsed/lowered some to better fit the shape of my foot. That said, performance-wise, this shoe was obviously not intended for the long distance minimalist runner in mind. Of course, this is not Merrell’s fault. As I stated before, despite the Flux Glove looking very much like the running models in the Barefoot line-up, and despite sporting the Road Glove sole, it was not designed specifically as a running shoe, but as more of general training shoe. The Flux Glove is built in a way that seems to keep your foot more stable inside of the shoe. When worn for running, this stability enables wearers to take tight corners and still feel like they have full control, and, in a cross-training setting, creates a more stable platform for activities like weight-lifting. Like every training shoe I’ve ever ran in, though, I noticed that they don’t feel as light/springy/free as other models, like the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove, do. However, for those who are transitioning or who feel that they still need some stability because they are severe over-pronators, the Flux Glove may be a good option for running. I prefer to wear mine casually for now.
Like most Merrell Barefoot shoes, the Flux Glove does a fantastic job of staying comfortable with or without socks, being very breathable, and having one of the roomiest toe boxes. The only place that this pair of Merrells falls behind, especially when compared to the more minimal Trail Glove, is in regard to barefoot feel. Yet again, this may be attributed to the fact that these shoes are for multisport training rather than specifically for running, but I find the sole a bit too stiff and cushioned to allow for the full amount of ground feedback many ultra-minimalist runners look for. You can still feel some differences in ground texture/material, and rocks are still recognizable, which does give you a better connection to the ground than a traditional or transitional shoe might, but if you are looking for a shoe similar to a Vibram FF SeeYa, a Sockwa, or a Softstar in terms of ground feel, you’ve come to the wrong place. I should also note again, though, that the Flux Gloves are built on the Road Glove sole, which is designed specifically for running on harder surfaces like pavement, so it is likely that I would find the Road Glove too stiff and padded, as well.
Honestly, I can’t decide how I feel about aesthetics when it comes to my specific pair. I will say that most of the other available colors are much more appealing in a casual setting (pictured below), but the Apollo/Vibrant Orange colorway that I received could be a little intense for some people, and I could see someone making the argument that they look like children’s shoes. As with many other shoes in the Merrell Barefoot line, I do find the sporty, racing-stripe-like accents on the upper appealing. The other thing worth mentioning is the quality of the materials used in these shoes, which is an area that Merrell always excels in. They are well designed and have well over 500 miles of life in them.
- Quality construction/materials.
- Great color options.
- Design allows for a stable ride and great traction.
- Comfortable with or without socks.
- Weren’t made for long-distance running (in my opinion).
- Break-in time may frustrate some users.
- Not an ultra-minimalist shoe.
The Merrell Barefoot Train Flux Glove Sport, like most of their shoes, is a quality-made product with a similar design to many of the other shoes in their Barefoot line. It is a multisport training shoe with a wide toe box, an extremely breathable vamp, and an aesthetically pleasing color palette. Considering that my interest in a fitness shoe is specific to running, these are definitely not my favorite, but, again, these are not designed to be a running-specific shoe. For the athlete who is interested in a minimalist shoe for cross-training, these might be right for you, and can offer you good stability, traction, and control.
Steve is an Executive Recruiter at Robert Half Executive Search in Madison, WI with a business degree in Information Systems and E-Commerce from the University of Toledo. Steve loves spending his time away from work; running, gaming, watching movies, checking out new social networking tools/sites/start-ups and blogging.