Shoe Reviews

Merrell M Connect Series Review

Merrell gave Believeintherun.com an opportunity to try out their latest collection of M Connect running shoes. Our reviewers Meaghan, Jenny, Stein, and myself were all looking forward to trying out the shoes. Stein, Jenny, and I tried the Bare Access 2 earlier and really were impressed with the shoe. I even gave it a B.I.G Award, Best In Gear Natural/0 drop Running Shoe for 2012. When we found out that Merrell was creating a line of light running shoes that all employed what Merrell has learned about minimalist running our expectations were high. I am certain there is a shoe in the M Connect collection that will work for just about every runner. We certainly had our preferences with the shoes, but they arise out of what we as individuals like in a shoe more then whether one shoe was “better” then another.

M Connect shoes we reviewed:

Vaporglove

Merrell Vapor Glove

“Give your feet a breath of fresh air on the run with the barefoot breathability of our Vapor Glove. Zero drop cushioning lands your foot pancake flat for full ground contact, merged with its all mesh upper (washable!) that molds to your foot while ventilating heat and moisture.” – Merrell

UPPER/LINING
• Barefoot construction
• Breathable mesh upper
• External TPU heel sling for contoured support
• Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
• Integrated microfiber footbed treated with Aegis®

MIDSOLE/OUTSOLE
• 0mm Drop / 2mm Cush / 5.5mm Stack Height
• Vibram Vapor Glove Sole / TC1 Rubber

Men’s Weight: 5oz (1/2 pair)”

“Vapor Glove is the best ultraminimal shoe I have tried, hands down. Feels like nothing there.” – Peter Larson aka RunBlogger

Thomas – This is the most minimal shoe in the Merrell M Connect Series. It is also the coolest minimal shoe I have seen. The upper feels silky against your foot and the Vibram bottoms have superior traction. Although I am not able to wrack up big barefoot miles in the Vapor Glove; it is a fun shoe to run shorter miles in. I am not at the level of bare foot running that these shoes deserve. I will wear the Vapor Glove for shorter runs, speed work and cross training.

Stein – Mega-light. Great for speed work at the track. They look and feel fast. Truly minimal. Not enough foot protection for city-running (due to being truly minimal). I like how they feel, but they’re not a practical daily trainer. I can see running a short race (10K max distance) but worry about fatigue or injury on a longer run.

Jenny – The weight and flexibility on this shoe is RIDICULOUS. Upper is super breathable and the fit was perfect, very glove-like. Sleek looking upper and loop lacing made for a snug fit. It has a thin soul/Vibram barrier, which gives a very natural feel to minimal running.Virtually no cushion. I think over time and bigger miles, I’d need some padding between me and the elements. I like the zero drop but with the miles I’m logging, I need a more protection. Great lower mileage trainer–especially for days when I just want to feel light and fast.

Meaghan – These shoes were comfortable right out of the box. They are as close as you can get to barefoot running while still wearing shoes. They’re incredibly flexible and lightweight. They have a rubber toe lining that helps give structure and protection to the toes. The responsive sole makes you very aware of the terrain, but yet still feel protected from any rocks or pebbles in the road. I made the mistake of wearing socks for my first run in these shoes. It only took me a mile to realize this is not how these shoes were meant to be worn. Although light and airy, when partnered with socks the shoes became unbreathable. The lack of cushioning limits the distance running I was willing to do in these. After my first run I noticed the soles of my feet started to hurt. The shoe lacked the arch support that I was used to and I felt some pain in my calves and ankles after my first few runs. Compared to Saucony’s Hattoris, I was much less worried about bruising the soles of my feet in these shoes. The rubber toe lining made me feel much more protected than the typical barefoot shoe.

Road Glove Dash 2

Merrell Road Glove Dash 2

“Upgraded versions of their predecessors, these barefoot shoes are specifically designed for running naturally on hard surfaces. A lightweight, zero-drop platform and super snug-fitting breathable mesh uppers help align your body over the mid-foot to find your optimal natural running form and strengthen muscles.” – Merrell

UPPER/LINING
• Cement construction
• 51% textile upper
• Low cut upper
• Bellows tongue keeps debris out
• Lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
• Reflective details for increased visability in low light

MIDSOLE/OUTSOLE
• 0mm Drop / 4mm Cush / 9.5mm Stack Height
• Merrell Bare Access 2 Sole / Vibram® Pods

Women’s Weight: 6oz (1/2 pair)

Meaghan – The Road Glove was a close second favorite in the M-Connect Series. Right out of the box I loved the look of this shoe. Much like the Mix Masters, I found the heel and midfoot to be snug, without being overly constricting. They were built with flexibility and the lacing allowed for plenty of control over the fit. Although most people feel the large toe-box is a plus, I found it to be overly roomy. It made the shoe feel like it was a size too big. This shoe is fast, flexible, light and great for running on the road or treadmill (I also sported these on several trips to the grocery store). I wouldn’t run a marathon in these shoes, but they are perfect for any run under 10 miles.

Merrell Road Glove 2

Merrell Road Glove 2

“This is “where the rubber meets the road”. Our Road Glove’s simplicity frees your sole with its barefoot, road-specific design, connecting your feet with the pavement. Its back to basics with this runner: a 0mm drop midsole enhanced with a protective toe cap, midsole cushion and reflective, washable mesh upper. Durable Vibram® Road Glove sole.” – Merrell

UPPER/LINING
• Barefoot construction
• Mesh and synthetic leather upper
• Low cut upper
• Protective toe cap
• Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
• Mesh lining treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
• Wash as needed in cold water, gentle cycle and air dry

MIDSOLE/OUTSOLE
• 0mm Drop / 4mm Cush / 9.5mm Stack Height
• Vibram® Road Glove 2 Sole / TC1 Rubber

Men’s Weight: 7oz (1/2 pair)

Stein – Light, flexible, durable. Great traction with a similar ride to the Bare Access 2. Not quite enough structure for marathon-distance. I like this shoe a lot.

Thomas – Again a good marriage of fit around the ankle and mid foot with a wide toe box that helps with toe splay. A light sporty feel to these shoes. The vibram traction is identical to the Bare Access 2. This shoe was a close second to the Bare Access 2. They are nearly identical with slightly less cushion. I preferred the cushion in the Bare Access 2, those that enjoy less shoe and slightly more ground feel will prefer the Road Glove to the Bare Access 2. These to shoes will help you determine how minimal you are willing to go.

mix master move glide Merrell Mix Master Move

The Merrell Mix Master Glide and the Mix Master Move

 

“For those who crave the ground feel, but like the idea of a little extra cushioning for longer miles or easing the transition to barefoot, here’s your minimalist running shoe. Built for the road with reflectivity and a lightweight breathable mesh upper, our Mix Master Move features a low profile 4mm heel to toe drop, getting you closer to the ground to experience the benefits of a barefoot stride. Mix Move sticky rubber sole grips hard surfaces.” – Merrell

UPPER/LINING
• Strobel construction
• Textile and Synthetic leather upper
• Low cut upper
• Molded eyelets for secure lacing
• Protective toe cap
• Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
• Breathable mesh lining treated with Aegis®
• EVA removable footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution

MIDSOLE/OUTSOLE
• 4mm Drop / 9mm Cush / 19mm Stack Height
• Merrell Float midsole is 10% thinner and 25% lighter to provide more feel and ground control
• Merrell Air Cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
• Molded nylon arch shank
• EVA removable footbed
• Vegan Friendly Footwear
• Merrell Mix Move Sole / Sticky Rubber

Women’s Weight: 7oz (1/2 pair) Men’s Weight: 8oz (1/2 pair)

Thomas – The Mix Master Move is the most traditional running shoe of the M-Connect collection. Merrell has a good handle on making shoes fit well and the Mix Master is no exception. The shoe fits great and feels light on your feet. The toe box is wide enough but is not as ample as the toebox of the Road Glove or the Bare Access 2. I subtract point on the Mix Master for road/trail feel. The extra midsole is not as flexible as I would like. The shoe felt a little clunky on the road. I don’t no why they didn’t stick with Vibram for the out sole of the Mix Master Move, but the rubber was more noticeable under foot on these shoes. I would love to try this shoe with a Vibram sole more like the Bare Access and Road Glove. The Mix Master is a good road shoe and a good non technical trail shoe, but a master of neither.

Meaghan – The Mix Masters are my favorite shoes out of the M-Connect collection. They are form fitting while still having plenty of room in the toebox. They are the perfect balance of lightweight and stability. The mesh lining makes the shoe flexible, light and breathable, while the cushioning in the heel and midsole provides great support and durability. I don’t really have anything negative to say about this shoe. Aside from the lime green color (which I grew to like) there isn’t much I would change about these shoes. I ran over 300 miles in these shoes and they are still my go-to for long runs. I wore them everywhere: the treadmill, road, and trails. They’re comfortable and light, perfect for any distance and I would recommend them to anyone looking to transition to a more minimalist running shoe. Without a doubt, the Mix Masters are my favorite. They are lightweight but still provided great support and cushioning. The perfect fit and balance.

Stein – They look good. They feel good; not too snug or loose. Not flexible enough. Not “grippy” enough especially on a slope with debris or slippery footing. I like the concept of a road/trail shoe, but this shoe is only cut out for fire roads not for single-track or other gnarly technical trails.

Jenny – Comfortable 4mm offset shoe with tread that can withstand multiple surfaces, from roads to trails. Just the right amount of cushion for medium to longer distance runs. The cushioning and sole come at a price…more weight and rigidity. These weren’t detrimental to the shoe but were definitely noted when comparing them to the Vapor and Crush Gloves. I ended up really enjoying this shoe on some technical trails. There was enough flexibility in the sole to “feel” the ground but not too much to where I was experiencing any pain from the roots and rocks. I preferred it on the trails to the road.

Merrell Crush Glove

Merrell Crush Glove

“Love at first flight — this barefoot-true training shoe will crush your workouts. Still 0mm drop toe to heel, it features uniform cushioning to buffer impacts while still letting your feet land flat, and a flexible sole with a tacky Chrysalis Glove Vibram® traction. Comfort pluses include: a microfiber footbed, breathable mesh on the vegan-friendly upper and anti-funk Aegis® antimicrobial action.” – Merrell

UPPER/LINING

• Strobel construction
• Synthetic leather and breathable air mesh upper
• Lining treated with Aegis(R) antimicrobial solution]

MIDSOLE/OUTSOLE

• 0mm Drop / 4mm Cush / 7mm Stack Height
• Compression molded EVA footframe for stability and comfort
• Integrated microfiber footbed treated with Aegis®
• Vegan friendly footwear
• Vibram® Chrysalis Glove / TC1 Rubber

Women’s Weight: 6oz (1/2 pair)

Jenny – The color is HAWT. I know that has nothing to do with the function but my first thought when I pulled them out of the box was OOOOOH, PINK! They have a great, breathable mesh upper with heat welded seams. This shoe also has some cushion, allowing for high mileage…seemed like the perfect happy medium between too minimal and too bulky. Less flexible than the Vapor Glove. Still not enough cushioning for me to put in long runs. The Crush Glove is a nice mid-distance, zero drop road trainer. Lightweight with a sufficient amount of forefoot protection. The Crush Glove was my favorite. I ended up liking this shoe over the other three because of its versatility. It felt natural on the road and on gravel/lighter trails. The breathable upper is forgiving but kept its shape with the heat welded seaming. The Vibram sole is protective yet still somewhat flexible for a responsive ride.

Merrell Proterra Proterra

Merrell Proterra

“It’s a brand new world for hiking shoes. Our ultra lightweight Proterra Sport feels like second skin with its revolutionary glove-like upper. It’s designed for optimal natural movement via durable, lightweight Stratafuse™ technology that eliminates bulky construction. The low profile midsole delivers more heel to toe ground contact for enhanced control and agility, and low bulk, carved-out reverse lugs flex for infallible traction. The result: an unparalleled, responsive ride that never stops.” – Merrell

UPPER/LINING

• Strobel construction

• Merrell Stratafuse™ Fabric upper provides a glove like fit for lightweight durability and natural movement

• Low cut upper

• Bellows tongue keeps debris out

• Protective TPU rand and toe cap

• Breathable mesh upper treated with Aegis®

• EVA removable footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution

MIDSOLE/OUTSOLE

• 4mm Drop / 10mm Cush / 21mm Stack Height

• Molded TPU arch shank

• Minimal design PU midsole increases ground contact and enhances stability

• 2.5mm sole lug depth

• Merrell Proterra Sole / Sticky Rubber

Jenny –  This is a hearty shoe and showed no wear over several wears. With a higher stack heel and 4mm offset, There is a good amount of cushioning on the insole and around the ankle on the upper. It has a durable upper and outsole, making it a great trail hiking shoe. The Proterra is perfect for people looking for a hiking shoe that has the soul of the M Connect collection built in.

Thomas – This minimalist trail shoe is a beefier take on a minimalist shoe in all the right ways. Traction is great and you always feel connected to the ground, but never feel a rock edge through the sole. The beefiness also means dense, so these are not very light minimalist shoes. The hightop gives more ankle support for hikes. The Proterra has taken over as my main go-to shoe for around town and for quick hikes, giving the feeling of a bit of ninja-like agility in case you need it.

Meaghan – This shoe made me feel like I could conquer just about any surface. The rubber outsole increased stability without being overbearingly heavy. They were form fitting and the mesh upper lining made them reasonably breathable. They were a little too snug around the collar and my first outing left me with blisters on back of my heels, so break them in before your big hike. The Proterras are durable without being extremely heavy. The Proterra certainly is a great shoe for any rocky terrain.

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