Merrell Vapor Glove 3

8.9
8.9 score
[Editors rating (8.5) + Users rating (10.0)] / 2 = Runnerclick score (8.9)/10

Our RunnerClick score is based on our editors overall rating compared to the user ratings in order to generate the most accurate and unbiased score of each product we review.

If there are less than 10 user reviews for the product in total, the weight of user reviews is decreased from 50% to 25% to make sure that new products are not rated too high.
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Editor rating: 8.5 / 10
User's rating: based on 1 user ratings
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Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review Facts
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The Merrell Vapor Glove 3 is a minimalist trail-specific shoe for runners who are interested in barefoot-style running. There is no pretending here, this shoe is a true minimalist option. There is no rock plate and no cushioning to soften impact. Running in these requires a bit of experience and good form. The Vapor Glove is for the runner who is already used to running barefoot or with minimal protection. We would not recommend this shoe for newcomers to barefoot running since there is hardly any midsole cushion. This vegan-friendly shoe is an extremely lightweight option for trail runners seeking maximum connection with the earth.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Excellent traction
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Great ground-feel
  • Good fit
  • Flexible
  • Comfortable
Cons
  • Poor durability
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The outsole of the Vapor Glove 3 is made of Vibram-brand rubber. This new version of the shoe features a completely new rubber compound from Vibram called TC5+ rubber. The material provides better traction than before. The new outsole construction is also lighter than the previous Vapor Glove model. The outsole features 2mm lugs for extra grip on varied surfaces.

Users commented on the shoe's ability to grip even wet slick rocks during a trail run. Some users did note that the thin outsole had a tendency to wear faster than they expected. Users liked the soft outsole for its ability to provide great ground feel and a flexible ride but noticed that the material was quite thin, which meant very little protection underfoot. The Vapor is a true minimalist shoe so be sure you know what you're getting into before purchasing. Do not expect any heavy duty protection underfoot. The goal of this shoe is to provide a thin layer of protection to cover the foot and that's about it.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The Merrell trail shoe's midsole is extremely minimal, so do not expect a lot of cushioning in this shoe, as there is barely any. A new TrailProtect pad has been added to the Vapor Glove 3 to provide slightly better protection against debris encountered on the trails. When it comes to impact, however, there is no midsole cushioning. The result is a shoe that brings users close to the ground so they can feel every step of the way.

For the most part, users liked the feel of the Merrell Vapor and appreciated the minimalist design for its superb ground-feel. Users liked the soft feel of the shoe as well.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The Glove 3's upper features a bit of a re-design. Newly added overlays help to bump the durability up a notch, although some were still unimpressed with the shoe's inability to handle wear and tear. The overlays also help with support, providing some foundation where there was previously none.

The upper is composed of mesh and features an anatomically correct toe box shape. Users liked the glove-like fit of the shoe and appreciated the extremely lightweight design. Reviewers also liked the wide toe box and the fact that the upper material was quick-drying. Quite a few folks, however, did point out the poor durability of the Vapor Glove 3, including the upper material.

Some users noted that the fit was quite large and required sizing down. Others felt the thin upper was surprisingly poorly ventilated considering the shoe's lightweight design. Still, most found the Merrell trail shoe provided a good fit.
Weight
Weight

Weight

The third edition of the Merrell Trail Glove 3 is extremely lightweight, which is no surprise. The shoe is minimalistic and geared towards barefoot-style runners. The midsole is non-existent (there is really only a slight bit of padding to provide a tiny amount of protection from debris) so weight is saved in this area. The upper is made up of a thin mesh material and the outsole is fairly thin to ensure runners can connect with the ground underfoot.

The women's version weighs in at 5 ounces and the men's just a slight bit heavier at 5.9 oz. The third version of the shoe is slightly lighter because of the new outsole compound which weighs less than before. Users agreed that the shoe was definitely vapor light and appreciated its minimalist construction.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

The Trail Glove 3 features a mesh upper. The updated design includes new colorways and added overlays for support. The mesh is about as breathable as before. Some users did note that they found breathability to be less than average. Others liked that the material dried quickly and felt soft and flexible when running.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Most reviewers found the Vapor Glove 3 to be very comfortable. Users did say that the sizing was a bit off and recommended sizing down, but with the right size, the shoe fits well. Runners liked the lightweight design and flexible package of the Vapor. The superb ground-feel pleased barefoot-style loyalists. A few did find the shoe lacked protection underfoot, but that is to be expected with this type of shoe. It is not meant to provide much more protection than a sock.

Users also like the wide toe box, as the anatomical shape of the shoe helps create a comfortable, accommodating fit for wearers.
Style
Style

Style

The Merrell Vapor Glove 3 features a honeycomb upper pattern, which adds some interest to the shoe's overall design. The shoe comes in a variety of colorways for men and women. The minimalist trail shoe features a fairly busy design scheme to contrast the toned down structure of the rest of the shoe. Overlays exist as an additional design element that also adds support. Reviewers liked the minimalist construction and the look of the Vapor 3. Most appreciated the design updates and were happy with the changes brought to the third edition of this Merrell trail shoe.
Durability
Durability

Durability

Here is where the Merrell shoe doesn't perform as well. The Vapor 2 had durability issues and while Merrell has added a few elements to help shore up the structural integrity and durability of the shoe, the changes still fall short.

It is to be expected that a shoe with a lightweight minimalist design does not feature the same resistant construction as a built-up, heavy-duty shoe such as the Asics Kayano. Still, even a minimalist shoe should not be falling apart at the seams after just a few uses.

The shoe features new overlays intended to enhance the durability of the upper. A new outsole provides better traction but is thinner and flimsier than before. Reviewers loved the lightweight design of the Vapor but complained that the shoe had a tendency to fall apart rapidly. However, a few wearers did feel that the Vapor 3 was a slight improvement over the 2 in terms of durability.
Protection
Protection

Protection

As a minimalist trail shoe, the Merrell Glove does not provide a ton of protection. This shoe provides wearers with the bare minimum for trail running. Much like a sock, the shoe provides just a thin covering around the foot. The result is a slight bit of protection from obstacles and trail debris. This new version of the Vapor Glove does offer a new midsole component called the TrailProtect Pad. While it's not a rock plate, it's a bit of an extra barrier against hard trail debris such as rocks and branches. Users appreciated the protective upgrade. The TrailProtect pad offers protection without adding on weight or affecting ground-feel.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

The Merrell Vapor Glove 3 is quite responsive thanks to not only the lightweight design, but the incredible ground-feel offered by the barely-there outsole. The flexible sole portion of the shoe helps users toe off rapidly and feel every inch of the ground beneath their bodies. A well-thought out lug pattern ensures that the runner experiences nimble footing on the trails without losing confidence, balance, and feedback.
Support
Support

Support

Looking for a shoe with support? Look elsewhere. The Glove 3 is not suitable for runners who need support. The new upper overlays do provide some structural integrity, but the rest of the shoe is flexible and supple to help agile barefoot-style runners move from foot to foot without feeling slowed down. There is no midsole cushioning to provide a supportive platform either. Runners should feel confident in their running style and form before picking up a pair of these minimalist trail shoes.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

If the Merrell Vapor is a super minimalist shoe and offers very little protection, what exactly makes it a good trail shoe? It's true, the Vapor Glove 3 is a highly paired down shoe, but it is still best suited for trail running. There are a few reasons for this. First, the outsole provides exceptional traction, even on the most uncertain trail surfaces. Users reported that the new Vibram TC5+ outsole performed incredibly on slick rocks and pebbles making it a good shoe for trail routes or races with water crossings. The 2mm sticky lugs can handle various trail conditions.

The shoe also features a TrailProtect component. The midsole pad does not provide impact protection, but does act as a barrier against gnarly trail debris. The upper is also perfectly designed for trail-use. Its quick-drying mesh design drains water easily and the anatomical shape of the shoe can accomodate foot swelling that might occur on long trail runs.
Price
Price

Price

The price tag of the Merrell shoe makes sense. The lightweight, minimalist shoe is not going to last as many miles as a traditional road or trail shoe, but you won't be breaking the bank if you decide to purchase it either. Despite the durability concerns, runners seemed happy with the fit, feel, and performance of the Vapor Glove 3. In essence, it works exactly as advertised.
Traction
Traction

Traction

Reviewers were incredibly impressed with the Vapor Glove's ability to grip different trail surfaces. The new sticky outsole compound (Vibram TC5+) and 2mm lugs ensure that trail runners can move over nearly any obstacle and feel sure-footed. The new Vibram sole is thinner than in the previous version of the shoe, but also provides much better traction.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

The Merrell trail shoe is extremely flexible. There is no rigid rock plate or midsole material to get in the way of a smooth, natural ride. The minimalist construction goes hand in hand with a superbly pliable design. Reviewers loved how flexible the Vapor felt as every step felt snappy and connected to the earth. True to barefoot-style, runners are able to use their own strength to propel forward with the Vapor Glove 3.
Stability
Stability

Stability

One of the reasons we do not recommend this shoe for barefoot-running newbies is because there is really no semblance of stability anywhere on this shoe. The upper overlays do provide a bit of security, but mostly just to keep the shoe anchored to your foot. Otherwise, it is expected that stability comes entirely from you. If you are not used to or not prepared for a minimalist run experience, you will feel the strain on your body build up quickly.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The Vapor Glove 3 is a true zero-drop shoe. A super flat design ensures that wearers get exactly what they want: a face to face meeting with the earth. The zero-drop height, combined with the ultra-minimalist construction, makes this a shoe appropriate for barefoot-style veterans.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

- NEW overlays added to upper for more support and enhanced durability
- NEW lighter outsole with Vibram rubber compound (TC5+)
- NEW Improved traction
- NEW TrailProtect Pad for increased protection
- Anamotically correct toe box
- Quick-dry mesh upper
- Super grippy 2mm outsole lugs
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Have you been working your way down the cushioning ladder looking to introduce some barefoot running into your life? The Merrell Vapor Glove 3 is a true barefoot-style trail shoe with an ultra-minimalist design. Not for the faint of heart, the zero-drop, unpadded trail runner is incredibly flexible and featherlight. The new version of the Vapor Glove introduces some well thought out changes such as a new midsole pad to add additional protection against debris. A new outsole compound provides even better traction than before, and a slightly more resistant upper improves durability.

It's a solid update to an already well designed shoe. If you're seeking a true minimalist trail shoe, the Merrell Vapor Glove 3 definitely provides a comfortable package and a super grippy outsole that will keep you upright no matter where you decide to tread.