Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe
Last updated date: September 12, 2019
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We looked at the top Barefoot Shoes and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Barefoot Shoe you should buy.
In our analysis of 110 expert reviews, the Merrell Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe placed 10th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.
Editor's Note October 30, 2019:
Checkout The Best Barefoot Shoe for a detailed review of all the top barefoot shoes.
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From The Manufacturer
This featherlight trail shoe liberates your run with zero-drop ground contact. The breathable mesh upper molds to your foot for an uninhibited stride.
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An Overview On Barefoot Shoes
Barefoot shoes are a product catered to meet the needs of a certain type of person who likes to feel connected to the earth and to let their feet perform in a more natural way.
“Barefoot shoes allow for your foot and body to run naturally as if you aren’t wearing a shoe at all,” says health and fitness expert Stephanie Mansour, personal trainer and host of “Step It Up with Steph” on public television. “It allows for your body mechanics to kick in without relying on arches, comfort, or support from shoes.”
A barefoot running shoe will provide a durable and fairly thick rubber sole under your foot to protect you from uneven or sharp surfaces that you might find. This small cushion provided by the sole, as seen in the TSLA Men’s Minimalist Barefoot Trail Shoe, allows you to wear these shoes anywhere that you could wear normal shoes, so you are not limited to smooth concrete surfaces or treadmills.
Beyond the cushioning and protection that the soles of these barefoot running shoes provide, they are also often made with a highly resilient and grippy material that provides slip-resistance to the user. The Mishansha Mens Womens Water Shoes Quick Dry Barefoot for Swim Diving Surf Aqua Sports Pool Beach Walking Yoga is a good example of this slip-resistant sole, and it makes an ideal shoe for wet conditions.
“Wearing barefoot shoes may improve proprioception and balance. There are so many nerve endings on the bottom of your feet, so being in tune and feeling these as you take a step or run can help with better balance and coordination,” Mansour notes. “Plus, you’ll be activating the smaller muscles in the legs and feet to help support you, since the shoe provides less support than a traditional walking or running shoe. Wearing a barefoot shoe can also help you feel more connected and grounded to your environment.”
When considering which barefoot shoe to buy, think about ease of use. Barefoot running shoes look and behave a lot like a pair of socks on your feet. They shoud be bendable and should flex with the muscles of your foot. Basically, the shoe should mimic your foot’s movements as closely as possible.
They should also be nearly as easy to put on and take off, which is why they generally sport a wide opening at the top for your foot. The ability to slide on a pair of shoes like the PENGCHENG Mens/Womens Water Sports Shoes is an invaluable benefit while on the move.
Your shoes should be comfortable to wear and have a durable enough sole to handle any terrain. But as the name suggests, you wear them with your bare feet, which can sweat and cause a noticeable buildup of moisture inside the shoe. Luckily, there are fast-drying and water-resistant options out there. The VIFUUR Barefoot Quick-Dry Shoe has an upper made from a quick-drying material. It also allows water to drain right out of the shoe for the times you’re wearing them in the rain or for actual water sports. A secondary benefit to a porous design is that it allows airflow into the shoe to let your feet breathe while wearing them. This breathability is a huge benefit when you don’t have a sock between your foot and the shoe to absorb moisture.
A notable difference in some of the styles of barefoot running shoes is how they stay on your foot. Some have a velcro strap that makes securing them a breeze. For those who intend on pounding the trail or doing a higher level of athletic maneuvers, there are also barefoot running shoes with a full set of laces. These will match the security of a traditional running shoe in the sense that they will stay put on your foot during vigorous exercise.
Lastly, your shoes should look good. Like any other type of shoe, barefoot shoes come in a slew of fun colors and patterns that can add some flair to your day, or they can be simple and elegant with simple, muted colors. Whether you want to find colors to match your favorite sports team or you have a certain color palette of exercise and outdoorsy clothes to match, you will be able to find a pair of barefoot running shoes to suit your desires.
However, if you’re coming off of injury or just starting a workout routine, note that these shoes might not be for you.
“I would not recommend getting these barefoot shoes if you are overcoming an injury or imbalance in your body, because there are still things in your body that need to be corrected, and having proper support from a traditional shoe can help with this,” Mansour explains. “I recommend barefoot shoes for runners or athletes who are looking to get their feet more in the game — to activate their foot muscles, the muscles and tendons that help with balance, and feel more grounded to their environment. If a newbie is interested in these shoes, I’d recommend simply walking around in them instead of exercising in them.”
DWYM Fun Fact
The act of running for exercise was not always the well-known practice it is today. It rose in popularity during the latter half of the 20th century in most Western countries, sparking the development and design of running shoes.
The foot strike between a barefoot runner and one wearing traditional running shoes is vastly different. The impact force of landing heel-first, which is the most common way to have your foot land when wearing shoes, can be two or three times what your body weight is. Barefoot or minimalist running causes the middle or front part of your foot to land first on the ground, allowing your arch to absorb the energy and propel you forward more efficiently. Even with this perceived benefit, there has not been enough evidence to show that running with barefoot shoes is better for your feet. It is always recommended to see a podiatrist before you try picking up this activity.
The Barefoot Shoe Buying Guide
- Velcro fasteners can be handy for quickly putting on and taking off your barefoot shoes. A full set of laces can make the shoe feel much more secure on your foot, so you know it won’t slide around while in action. Choose which of the features feels right for your needs to help you narrow your search.
- Drainage holes are more efficient to drain large amounts of water than a shoe that just has a breathable fast-drying upper material. If you think you will be wearing these shoes as water shoes, this drainage feature might be the right choice for you. If you are mostly running in dry scenarios but fear you may have some sweat or rain to deal with, you will be happy with a material that is breathable and dries quickly, even if it has no built-in drainage holes.
- Be sure to read the sizing guides very thoroughly on these products. Many will have half and full sizes ranging from very small to very large sizes. These shoes should fit your foot like a glove to give you the best results while wearing them. If they’re too loose, you’ll be fighting with potential blisters or hot spots.