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Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Review | Lightest Barefoot Shoe On the Market?

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The Merrell Vapor Glove 6 is the latest barefoot shoe to debut in Merrell’s popular Vapor Glove shoe line. This model is the 6th iteration of the Vapor Glove and boasts a few key construction updates.

For context, I like the Merrell Vapor Glove 5 and regularly use them for outdoor summer wear, so I was excited to put the Vapor Glove 6 to the test. Thus far, I think the Vapor Glove 6 has once again delivered a good performance for this shoe line.

This shoe feels like a stronger model than its predecessor and I think it can be a great barefoot shoe for casual hikes and training. In addition, this model has retained its budget-friendly price point and has more breathability, but it does have a couple of drawbacks.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6

$90

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Product Shot
4.6
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • Casual Training
  • Summer Wear
  • Easy to Moderate Hikes
  • Longer Casual Walks

Falls Short

  • For Notably Wide Feet
  • For Serious Strength Training
  • For Cooler Months

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Pros

Over the course of my testing process with the Merrell Vapor Glove 6, I’ve found a few things to enjoy with this model.

  1. Light and Breathable Construction
  2. Good for Outdoor and Indoor Workouts
  3. Made With Recycled Materials

The first aspect to like about the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 is just how lightweight and breathable this shoe is. If you’re a stickler for super “minimalist” feeling barefoot shoes, then I think you’ll enjoy these two Vapor Glove 6 construction components.

For my size 10 model, the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 has a weight of 5.6 oz which puts on the lighter end for shoes built for outdoor and indoor use. This model’s mesh upper also breathes really well which is a nice perk of this shoe.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 flexibility

If you’re planning to wear these shoes without socks, then I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy how these shoes feel, especially in warmer settings. I could see these being a great option for summer wear as well where your feet will likely sweat a lot.

This shoe is treated with Cleansport NXT which helps with odor control, which I also like regarding sockless use. Thus far, I have yet to have major issues with odor in this model and this is another reason why I like them for warm weather and outdoor use.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Upper Construction

Another thing to like about the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 is that it can be a great shoe for general indoor and outdoor use. This shoe can be a great pick for more casual hikes, outdoor excursions, and even camping due to its overall construction.

The bellows tongue does a good job of keeping gravel and debris from getting into this shoe. I also like how the extended outsole wrap over the toe box and heel adds a nice degree of traction, protection, and durability. 

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Barefoot Shoes

Again, this shoe does remind me of a water shoe in many ways and I’ll definitely be using them this summer for my hikes that have creek crossings and for rainy or muddy excursions.

When it comes to working out, I like the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for the most part. This shoe articulates well for things like lunges, split squats, and active foot exercises, and you get a nice level of ground feedback with this shoe’s sole.

Using the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for leg day

The Vapor Glove 6 also has a stack height of 6mm with 2mm thick lugs so it gives you a relatively nice “closeness” to the ground and for deadlifts where I was working with mid-range intensities, these shoes felt good.

For casual use, the Vapor Glove 6 is also pretty comfortable with its built-in minimalist EVA foam insole. I found this insole to be more comfortable for walking and even navigating over certain obstacles like loose gravel and rocks.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for outdoor hikes

The final aspect to like about the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 is that the entirety of this shoe is pretty much built with recycled materials. For example, the mesh lining, upper, and footbed are all 100% recycled materials and so are the laces and webbing.

In addition, the EVA foam insole and Vibram outsole are also composed of at least 30% recycled materials. If you care about the materials used in your shoes, then I think this will be a nice pro that comes with the Vapor Glove 6.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Cons

While I think the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 is one of the stronger shoes in this line yet, there are a few cons to keep in mind before investing in this model.

  1. Not the Most Aesthetic Barefoot Shoe
  2. Midfoot May Feel Offputting for Some
  3. May Lack Specificity In the Gym for Some

The first drawback that I have with the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 is that they’re not going to be the most aesthetic barefoot shoe, in my opinion. Granted, I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder so we may disagree here.

However, I think if you’re wanting a barefoot shoe that you can wear to train and hike in and wear more formally, then you may have a hard time doing so in this shoe. You might want to look into something like the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail II FG.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Barefoot Shoes Review

Some of the colorways aren’t too bad for the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 and I think if you go with a neutral colorway, then you can definitely rock them daily. My main gripe is around the toe and heel wrap which again, looks a little like a water shoe.

Another drawback that I have with the Vapor Glove 6 is that I’m not sure its midfoot construction is going to resonate with every foot anatomy. I have a normal arch and I don’t mind the fit of this shoe, but it does have a little arch through its sole.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Outsole Construction

If you have a flat and wider midfoot, then I could see the sole of this model bothering you. To add to this, I think if you didn’t resonate with the fit of prior Merrell Vapor Glove shoes, then you’ll find this shoe follows suit with its fit. 

I do think the sole will break in over time, so this may be a moot issue for most foot anatomies, but it was something I noticed when initially putting them on and I think other foot anatomies will pick up on this faster.

Using the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for lifting

The final drawback with the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 is that it may not be the best barefoot shoe for lifting for hyper-specific athletes. To expand on this, the lugs could be offputting for working on heavy pulls and you may want a shoe that has a flatter tread.

On top of this, you may want to pass on this shoe if you’re wanting a model for functional fitness or for road running. The thinner sole and lightweight mesh upper may not be the most durable for these training contexts as well.

Performance Assessment

To assess the performance of the Merrell Vapor Glove 6, I’m going to cover their performance in a wide range of contexts. I’ll discuss how they perform for lifting, versatile training, short runs, hikes, and daily wear.

Since these shoes are designed to be highly versatile, I wanted to put them to the test in a wide range of use contexts to help shed light on where they excel and where they fall short.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Performance Breakdown

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for Lifting

When it comes to lifting, the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 delivers consistent performance for most strength training settings. This shoe’s 6mm stack height puts you relatively close to the ground which is great for ground feedback.

The outsole also does a pretty good job of providing traction for different exercises. When doing things like kettlebell swings and walking lunges on different surfaces, I never had slip issues with this shoe.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for working out

On top of this, the sole also articulates pretty well so if you want a barefoot shoe that has a nice level of flexibility, then I think you’ll enjoy how the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 performs for lifting.

Another thing that I think is both positive and negative about this shoe is its width. For narrow and neutral-width feet, I think you’ll enjoy the amount of room you get in the toe box for toe splay as it’s spacious but it doesn’t feel like it’s too much.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for strength training

In wider barefoot shoes, you can sometimes slide when their width doesn’t align with your foot anatomy, so this model should be perfect for narrow and neutral-width feet. For wide feet, these should work, but I don’t think they’re the best option for notably wide feet.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for Versatile Training

When it comes to versatile training, I thought the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 did a pretty good job. This shoe’s lightweight construction is great for giving them an “athletic” and sock-like feeling when training.

On top of this, they have a good level of breathability, so if you’re doing something like HIIT or athletic-style sessions in warmer settings then I don’t think your feel will run overly hot in this model.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for HIIT

Plus, I like that you can wear these with or without socks with decent breathability. Thus far, I haven’t had any issues with odor in this model which I think is likely due to the Cleansport NXT treated feature.

For multi-directional work and plyometrics, the 2mm lugs give you enough grip for most surfaces and on turf and rubber gym floors, this model did a good job of providing me enough traction to push my performance.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for versatile training

My only gripe with this shoe for versatile training is that the little arch in the sole may be uncomfortable for some as they jump more due to the arch compressing and flexing throughout your training session.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for Hiking, Short Runs, and Daily Wear

For hiking, I like the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 and think it will fare well for casual hikes in warmer months. The high level of breathability with this shoe is great for warm contexts, but this won’t be your barefoot shoe for hiking in cooler months, in my opinion.

On top of this, I think you’ll want to be a little selective with the terrains that you’re using this shoe with. To expand on this, this model has a super minimalist feel which might not be the best for some on hikes that have a high amount of rough and rocky terrain.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for hiking

Overall, though, I think the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 will excel in a wide range of hiking settings, especially in warmer months. I’ll likely use this shoe as I use the Vapor Glove 5 which is on hikes that have water crossings.

For short runs and daily wear, this model has also performed pretty well. I think the Vibram outsole should hold up fairly well over time and I have yet to see any durability issues with this model.

I would however limit how much you’re running in this shoe on pavement if you want the lugs to last and hold up. For day-to-day use, I’ve enjoyed how easy this shoe is to slip on for longer dog walks. I just wish they looked a little more casual.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Sizing

For the Merrell Vapor Glove 6, I think most will be safe going true to size in this model. I found the length to fit true in this shoe and they have a fairly adequate throughout the toe box.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 sizing

For narrow and neutral-width feet, the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 should fit really well. I also think this model will fit well for feet that have a bit more arch to them as their sole does have a little arch to it.

If you have notably wide feet, then I would say tread lightly when looking into this shoe. This shoe should work for most, but again, if you have a flatter midfoot and arch, then you may not enjoy this shoe’s overall fit.

  • Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Sizing Thoughts: True to size for most.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Sizing and Fit Assessment

If you have additional sizing and fit questions about the Merrell Vapor Glove 6, drop a comment below and share what model you currently wear and I can help you out accordingly.

Price Breakdown

For the Merrell Vapor Glove 6, you can expect to pay $90 USD. This price point is similar to prior Vapor Glove models and it puts this shoe as a more budget-friendly barefoot shoe option for lifting.

Testing the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 sizing

I think if you’re wanting a lightweight barefoot shoe for a little bit of everything, then the price point for the Vapor Glove 6 makes sense. This shoe does a good job of being decent for casual training and outdoor wear.

Plus, if you compare the Vapor Glove 6 to similar models with comparable price points like the Xero Shoes Prio which retails at $89.99 USD, then I’d put these shoes either neck-and-neck if not a little over the Prio due to them looking better, relatively speaking.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Insole

I also see the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 as being a good barefoot shoe to beat up in warmer months. For example, if I’m hiking or going out in wetter settings, then I’m not going to wear a $150+ USD barefoot shoe, but for $90 USD, I can get behind the Vapor Glove 6.

Despite its solid price point, there are contexts where I think the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 will fall short. Casual daily and serious weight training are two contexts where I’m not the biggest fan of this shoe’s price as it will be limited.

Who Should Invest In the Merrell Vapor Glove 6?

The Merrell Vapor Glove 6 delivers a strong performance for the barefoot shoe lover who wants a shoe for working out but also adventuring outdoors. This shoe is what I would call a hybrid regarding its outdoor and indoor performance.

For outdoor wear, this shoe has a slightly more aggressive tread patterning on its outsole with 2mm lugs and the outsole extends over the toe and heel for added traction and protection when hiking, trail running, and wearing these out and about.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for hiking

When it comes to training, this shoe does an adequate job of giving you a nice level of sole articulation, and breathability, and it has a low stack height of 6mm which gives you a nice amount of ground feel.

The width of this shoe should also work for most foot anatomies. When wearing this model with or without socks I felt like I had adequate room to splay my toes and let my feet do their thing, and for context, I have a neutral-width foot.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Upper

All that being said, if you want a shoe that has a budget-friendly price that can hold its own for more casual hikes and outdoor wear, but then also performs well in the gym, then I think the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 is a good option for you.

Who Shouldn’t Invest In the Merrell Vapor Glove 6?

While the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 does a good job from a hybrid outdoor and indoor context, I don’t think it’s going to be the best barefoot shoe for daily wear and more serious training.

When it comes to daily wear, this shoe has a more “outdoorsy” look and almost gives off water-shoe vibes, so I don’t think this will be the barefoot shoe that you can wear in more formal or business casual settings.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 for deadlifts

If you want a barefoot shoe that looks good for daily wear, then I’d suggest checking out the Icarus Ascent or Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit. Both of these models have a clean aesthetic that goes well with most outfits.

On top of this limitation, I also don’t think the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 will be the best barefoot shoe for serious strength work as its lugs could be off-putting for anyone wanting a shoe to get them as close to the ground as possible.

More specifically, I don’t think the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 would be the best option for the dedicated powerlifter that wants a barefoot shoe for heavy squats and deadlifts as there are more models on the market like the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III that will perform better here.

Construction Details

One of the cool details about the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 is how many recycled materials this model uses in its construction. Below are some of the key construction elements that can influence this shoe’s performance and durability.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 5.6 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: No
  • 100% Recycled Mesh Upper
  • 100% Recycled Mesh Footbed
  • 100% Recycled Webbing, Laces, and Mesh Lining
  • EVA Foam Insole
  • Vibram Rubber Outsole (30% recycled materials)
  • Merrell Barefoot 2 Construction
  • Cleansport NXT Treated
  • 5 Core Eyelets With a 6th for Lace-Lock

If you have additional construction-related questions about the Merrell Vapor Glove 6, drop a comment below and I can try to answer whatever you have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Is Merrell Vapor Glove zero drop?

A:
The Merrell Vapor Glove shoes are zero-drop shoes. This Vapor Glove 6 has a total stack height of 6mm at the forefoot and heel giving it a flat and low-to-the-ground feeling.

Q:
Do the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 fit true to size?

A:
For most, the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 should fit true to size. In my opinion, this model will be best for narrow, neutral, and slightly wider feet that have a little bit of an arch to them.

Q:
What is the stack height of Merrell Vapor Glove 6?

A:
The overall stack height of the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 comes in at 6mm. This is down .5mm compared to its predecessor the Merrell Vapor Glove 5.

Takeaway Thoughts

Once again, Merrell has delivered a relatively strong barefoot shoe with its Vapor Glove 6. Compared to the Vapor Glove 5, I do think the Vapor Glove 6 is a step in the right direction.

This shoe has a lightweight and breathable build that makes it great for outdoor wear and casual training use. Plus, I think the price point on these is fair for what they offer regarding their performance and construction.

There are areas where I do think this shoe will fall short, so I’d make sure your intended use cases line up with this model’s strengths before investing in them.

If you have additional questions about the Merrell Vapor Glove 6, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

6 thoughts on “Merrell Vapor Glove 6 Review | Lightest Barefoot Shoe On the Market?”

  1. Hi! Thanks for the great review. I don’t completely understand your comments about the arch. Is there not enough arch support in the shoes or is the arch support too big for feet that have low/medium arch?

    1. Thanks for checking it out! It’s not “too big” for low/medium arches, per se, but you will feel it. Basically, if you don’t like any arch/have flatter feet then you’ll prob want to pass on these because you’ll feel that medial midfoot arch, but if that doesn’t bother you then you should be fine.

  2. Thank you for the in depth review. I know that you mentioned that the Vapor Glove 6 is a step in the right direction for the line, but I was wondering if you could expand on how it compares to the Vapor Glove 5 and explain which one is your favorite.

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