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Home » Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Review | Versatile Barefoot Shoe?

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Review | Versatile Barefoot Shoe?

Merrell is a company known for its diverse offering of outdoor and hiking-focused shoes. On top of making outdoor shoes, Merrell also makes a wide range of minimalist shoes that can be used for various activities.

The Merrell Vapor Glove 5 is one of Merrell’s most popular minimalist shoes and it delivers a versatile construction and performance. I’m constantly on the lookout for the best barefoot shoes on the market, so I was super excited to put the Vapor Glove 5 to the test.

Throughout my tests, I found multiple things to like about the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 like its versatility for training and comfortable bootie-style construction. However, there were also a few cons I found with this shoe which I’ll dive into below.

In this Merrell Vapor Glove 5 review, I’ll cover multiple topics and questions to help decide if this barefoot shoe is right for you.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Review

New to barefoot shoes? Make sure you check out my barefoot shoes guide to learn more about acclimating to this style of footwear.

Who Should Invest In the Merrell Vapor Glove 5?

The Merrell Vapor Glove 5 can be a good minimalist shoe to explore for those wanting a model for daily wear, training, and light hikes. This shoe’s 6.5mm stack height and minimalist sole also give you a lot of ground feel if that’s a high priority of yours.

I think the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 will also work really well for those with narrow, neutral, and slightly wider feet. This isn’t the widest barefoot shoe on the market, so if you often feel like you’re swimming in barefoot shoes, this may be a good option for you.

Vapor Glove 5 Review Merrell

On top of its decent versatility, I could see the Vapor Glove 5 as a good option for those that like regularly going sockless in their barefoot shoes. This shoe’s bootie-style construction and upper are both pretty comfortable for sockless use.

I like the 2mm lugs on the sole and they do a pretty good job for casual and light hikes where you’re tackling easy terrains. However, the sole on this model can be prone to breakdown issues at times, so for runners and hikers, I’d suggest keeping an eye on this.

Overall, the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 is a fine minimalist shoe that can do a little bit of everything. I think it’s a model that will resonate with some, but be a miss for those that like flatter minimalist shoes with a little less arch in the sole.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5

$90

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Product Shot
4.3
Stability
4.4
Versatility
4.4
Durability
4.2

Best For

  • Daily Wear/Casual Hikes
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Versatile Training Sessions
  • Narrow/Neutral-Width Feet

Falls Short

  • For Wider Feet
  • For Long-Term Durability

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Pros

Over the course of my testing with the Merrell Vapor Glove 5, there were multiple things that I found to enjoy with this shoe.

  1. Lightweight and Highly Mobile Sole
  2. Good Versatility for Training, Light Hiking, and Casual Wear
  3. Low Stack Height With Good Ground Feedback

The first thing to like about the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 is how lightweight and mobile this shoe is. My size 10 Vapor Glove 5 has a weight of 6.4 oz which makes them one of the lighter barefoot shoe options on the market.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Weight

I think if you enjoy super lightweight shoes that feel somewhat sock-like, then you’ll enjoy this feature of the Vapor Glove 5. On top of its weight, this shoe also has a nice level of maneuverability to them. They almost feel like water shoes at times.

If you like barefoot shoes with more mobility and articulation through the sole, I think you’ll enjoy the Vapor Glove 5. The sole of this shoe moves well with the foot and you can tell Merrell was focused on giving this shoe a more anatomical fit.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Sole Mobility

Another thing to like about the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 is their performance for training, like hikes, and casual wear. In the gym, this shoe’s articulation and ground feedback are the star players.

For things like deadlifts, box jumps, and lunges, this model moved with my feet well and allowed me to grip the floor fairly well. I also like how this shoe performed for more casual hikes and walking.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for deadlifting

I could see the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 as being a good barefoot shoe for beginners and those that want a slightly more cost-efficient minimalist shoe to beat up on a daily basis.

In addition, this barefoot shoe runs a little narrower than other options on the market, which could be a good thing for those with narrower and neutral-width feet.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for ground feedback

Another thing to like about the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 is the amount of ground feel that you get with this shoe. This model’s stack height sits at 6.5mm, which is in line with other barefoot shoes.

I found this shoe to provide a lot of ground feedback on different surfaces and if you like “feeling” everything under your feet while wearing minimalist shoes, then I think you’ll enjoy the sole construction on this model.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Cons

For the most part, the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 has been a strong and consistent barefoot shoe. However, this model does have a few cons to note before investing in them.

  1. Their Sole Construction Is Awkward
  2. Long-Term Durability Man Be An Issue
  3. Not the Best Barefoot Shoe for Wide Feet
  4. Upper In the Midfoot Could Be Better

The first drawback to note with the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 is its sole construction. It’s hard to describe, but I find the sole on the Vapor Glove 5 to be a little awkward at times and I think it will take some acclimation for new Vapor Glove users.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Vibram Sole Feel

The sole on this shoe wraps up the heel, midfoot, and forefoot, so at times, it can feel a little unstable and I noticed this most when getting used to them for training. In some ways, this model’s sole construction reminds me of the Lems Primal 2’s sole.

On top of the sole being rounded, which can be hit or miss based on your preferences, this model also has a slight arch on the medial midfoot. The sole wraps in more aggressively here and I could this bothering those with a flatter and wider midfoot.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Vibram Sole

I get what Merrell is trying to do by making this shoe’s sole more “anatomical and foot shaped” but I almost feel like this feature and change has made this model a little less size inclusive for those needing more traditional barefoot shoes.

Another drawback of the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 is that its long-term durability can be variable from user to user. This shoe’s Vibram sole construction can be hit or miss for a lot of outdoor wear and those putting in serious mileage in this shoe.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Vibram Sole Durability

The lug depth in this model sits at 2mm and it seems like the heel’s material starts to fade a little fast despite featuring Vibram rubber. I think if you’re planning to run or do long walks in this shoe, you’ll want to keep a close on this.

In addition to this shoe’s somewhat awkward sole construction, this shoe also lacks width through the forefoot and midfoot. I think if you’re needing shoes with a width wider than an E-width, then you may want to explore different minimalist shoes.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 vs Vivobarefoot

Compared to other models like the Tolos Archetype 1.0, Feelground Highrise Knit, and Vivobarefoot Primus shoes, this model has a narrower toe box and it may run too snug for some.

The final drawback that I have with the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 is that its upper construction through the midfoot is hit or miss. To get a secure fit, I have to tighten this shoe a fair amount which then results in the upper overlapping itself.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Upper Construction

I think this will bother some because it was noticeable enough for me and you can feel the overlap on the top of the feet. It would be nice if this was reworked in future models because it also takes away from this shoe’s overall appearance.

Performance

To discuss the performance of the Merrell Vapor Glove 5, I’ll cover how these shoes perform for a range of activities. I’ll break down how the Vapor Glove 5 performs for lifting, versatile training, short runs, and daily wear.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Performance Breakdown

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for Lifting

For weight training, the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 does a fairly good job in the gym. I’ve used this model for multiple deadlift/posterior-focused days and lower body days and enjoyed their performance for the most part.

I like how much ground feedback you get with this shoe and how well the sole moves with the foot. In addition, I also found 2mm lugs on the Vibram outsole to do a good job with gripping different surfaces like rubber gym floors and turf.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for lifting

The lightweight upper on this model is also a perk for this shoe regarding lifting because it promotes breathability for longer sessions. I like wearing these sockless and on the occasions, I lift sockless with this shoe, my feet stayed relatively cool.

Where this model falls short for lifting is with its toe box width and its rounded sole. I’m not always the biggest fan of lifting with this style of sole construction in barefoot shoes because I find it impairs stability for super-heavy strength sessions.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for weight training

If I’m training super heavy and want a barefoot shoe, I’ll opt for models like the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III, Xero Shoes Zelen, or Tolos Archetype 1.0. For light and moderate strength sessions, the Vapor Glove 5 is fine.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for Versatile Training

In the context of versatile training, the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 did a pretty good job. While this barefoot shoe may not be specifically designed for things like HIIT and hybrid workouts like the Xero Shoes Zelen, it still performed well.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for versatile training

The sole of this shoe gripped the floor really well for plyometrics and multi-directional exercises, and once again, the high level of articulation with this shoe gives you a nice level of “feel” while training.

The upper on this model also did a pretty good job at locking down the feet while tackling versatile workouts. I do wish the upper didn’t fold over itself, but it didn’t seem to impact the performance of this shoe whatsoever.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for HIIT

My only complaint about this shoe for versatile training is that the heel could use a little more security. Even fully tightened, I had a little space in the boot of this shoe. It didn’t completely derail my workout, but I did notice it here and there.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for Short Runs and Daily

When it comes to running in the Merrell Vapor Glove 5, I would suggest treading lightly. This model will work fine for short runs, but for long-distance runs, you may run into durability issues with this shoe’s sole construction.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 boot construction

The Vibram sole on this model has a super grippy rubber feel to it and I think this can cause this shoe to break down a little faster when running due to its creating a fair amount of friction. While you can run in them, you may experience a little faster sole breakdown.

For daily wear and casual hiking, the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 does a pretty good job. This shoe has a more casual and relaxed look to it which can make it a decent daily wear shoe. Granted, it does look a little like a water shoe and doesn’t have a classier look like the Wilding Shoes Chestnut.

testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for daily wear

If you’re wanting this model for light hikes, then I think you’ll enjoy this shoe for the most part. It will be best for dirt trails and if you’re going on anything more aggressive, then I’d suggest looking into the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail or Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG .

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Sizing

For the Merrell Vapor Glove 5, most should be safe going true to size in this model. The length of these shoes fit true and they have a neutral to slightly wider width, and I tread lightly saying “wider” there.

If you have narrow or neutral-width feet, I think you’ll enjoy the overall fit of the Vapor Glove 5. On top of this, if you have a slightly wider forefoot, then I think you’ll also enjoy the fit of the Vapor Glove 5.

This shoe’s width is most similar to something like a Lems Primal 2. For notably wide and flat feet, you may want to size up a half-size or pass on this shoe. I think the midfoot of this shoe could be uncomfortable for these sizing contexts.

  • Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Sizing Thoughts: Go true to size most.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Sizing and Fit Scale

If you have additional sizing and fit questions about the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 and how you should size them, drop a comment below and I can you out accordingly.

Price Breakdown

For the Merrell Vapor Glove 5, you can expect to pay $90 USD. This price point put this model in a similar price range as other barefoot shoes like the Xero Shoes Prio.

I think the price is fair for the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for the most part, and if you’re wanting this model as a first barefoot shoe or plan to integrate them with other models, then your investment should last longer.

testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 for gym workouts

This shoe can be a viable option for beating up on a daily wear basis and using for walking and light hiking. I could also see the price for this shoe making sense if you can find them on sale for less than $90 USD.

That being said, this shoe’s durability could be better so it’s worth noting that if you plan to run in this shoe or have a foot anatomy that doesn’t align with this model’s last construction, then you’ll want to explore other shoes.

Merrell Vapor Glove 5

$90

Merrell Vapor Glove 5 Product Shot
4.3
Stability
4.4
Versatility
4.4
Durability
4.2

Best For

  • Daily Wear/Casual Hikes
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Versatile Training Sessions
  • Narrow/Neutral-Width Feet

Falls Short

  • For Wider Feet
  • For Long-Term Durability

 Construction Details

Before investing in the Merrell Vapor Glove 5, it’s a good idea to first familiarize yourself with its construction. Below are some of the key construction details to know about this model.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 6.4 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: This model does come with an insole.
  • Vibram Rubber Sole (30% recycled rubber)
  • Bootie-Style Construction
  • Mesh and TPU Upper
  • 100% Recycled Laces
  • Merrell Barefoot 2 Construction
  • 40% Recycled Mesh Lining
  • EVA Foam Insole

If you have additional construction-related questions or need further clarification about the Merrell Vapor Glove 5, drop a comment below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Are Merrell Vapor Gloves true to size?

A:
The Merrell Vapor Glove 5 should fit true to size for most individuals. This model works best for narrow and neutral-width feet. Note, this shoe may fall short for wider feet, especially when compared to other minimalist shoes.

Q:
Is Vapor glove barefoot?

A:
The Merrell Vapor Glove 5 could be classified as a traditional barefoot and minimalist shoe. This model features a 6.5mm stack height which is comparable to other popular barefoot shoes.

Q:
Is Merrell Vapor Glove zero drop?

A:
The Merrell Vapor Glove 5 features a 0mm heel-to-toe drop much like other barefoot and minimalist shoes.

Takeaway Thoughts

At the end of the day, I like the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 despite it having shortcomings. I think it will be a barefoot shoe that will work really for some and if you like Merrell, then I think you’ll enjoy this shoe’s construction.

I think if you’re wanting a barefoot shoe for light hikes, and some working out, and you typically enjoy barefoot shoes that have rounded soles and more anatomical fits, then you’ll enjoy this model.

For runners, notably wider feet, and those that like flatter barefoot shoes, I don’t think the Vapor Glove 5 will be the best model for you.

If you have additional questions about the Merrell Vapor Glove 5, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

That Fit Friend is a site that is supported by myself (Jake Boly) and its readers. If you purchase products through affiliates links on this site, then I may receive a small commission on the sale. These commissions help keep the lights on here at That Fit Friend so I can continue to create content and they help me purchase new models to review!

nv-author-image

Jake Boly

I've been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I've trained hundreds of clients, written thousands of articles, reviewed over 100+ pairs of training shoes, and have produced a large list of training videos. I live and breathe fitness and training gear, and I think it's important that reviewers walk the walk with the gear they're testing. As for my educational background, I have my Masters in Sports Science, Bachelors in Exercise Science, and have my CSCS.

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