Merrell New Releases‏

Merrell’s new AllOut range includes 3 models, the Fuse, Rush and Blaze, providing shoes to cover everything from road running, to trail running, to hill walking.

  • Fuse: Road to trail running, light trail running
  • Rush: Trail running
  • Blaze: Hill walking & trail walking in more undulating terrain

AllOut Fuse

Delivers natural performance in a protective, trail ready package…

“The new Allout Fuse, from Merrell, the world’s leading rugged outdoor footwear brand*, is a running shoe designed to encourage more efficient natural running form that has been developed to provide the ultimate performance when running on both road and trail during the same run.

Developed in conjunction with the Rebound Physical Therapy Lab led by Jay Dicharry, MPT, CSC. UniFlyTM technology promotes natural running form and reduces stress on the body while increasing power and effectiveness through an anatomically contoured UniFlyTM foot wrap that is in continuous contact with the 3 main arches of the feet. Continuous contact with the arch acts to relax the foot, conserving energy and allows for a larger and more efficient contraction and recoil on each and every stride – resulting in increased mobility.

UniFlyTM technology then extends into the sole system with two impact protection zones of ultra-resilient, strategically placed foam ‘shock’ pods ensuring a stable takeoff and soft landing, distributing impact and providing great feedback from the ground.

Grip and control is then provided by a versatile and adaptable outsole that incorporates a circular rubber lug design that allows each lug to move independently, providing multi-directional contact and increased surface area for a highly agile, slip-free ride.

A combination of work in-lab and with athletes in the field has allowed Allout Fuse to match as closely as possible the natural shape and movement of the foot. They are available in a range of colours including Blue & Lime for men and Black & Eggshell Blue for women.”

  • AllOut Fuse- RRP £90 Stockist: Cotswold

AllOut Rush

Delivers natural performance in a protective, natural package…

“Trail runners will be able to carve easily through wet and muddy tracks and even more challenging terrain in the new Merrell Allout Rush trail running shoe. Anatomically designed to encourage a more natural stride combined with exclusive new traction technologies to deliver a performance shoe with superior responsiveness and protection.

Developed in conjunction with the Rebound Physical Therapy Lab led by Jay Dicharry, MPT, CSC. UniFlyTM technology promotes natural running form and reduces stress on the body while increasing power and effectiveness through an anatomically contoured UniFlyTM foot wrap that is in continuous contact with the 3 main arches of the feet. Continuous contact with the arch acts to relax the foot, conserving energy and allows for a larger and more efficient contraction and recoil on each and every stride – resulting in increased mobility.

UniFlyTM technology then extends into the sole system with two impact protection zones of ultra-resilient, strategically placed foam ‘shock’ pods ensuring a stable takeoff and soft landing, distributing impact and providing great feedback from the ground.

Grip and control over all terrains in all weathers is then provided by a unique outsole that incorporates a circular rubber lug design that allows each lug to move independently, providing multi-directional contact and increased surface area for a highly agile, slip-free ride.

A combination of work in-lab and with athletes in the field has allowed Allout Rush to match as closely as possible the natural shape and movement of the foot. They are available in a range of colours including Black & Lantern for men and Black & Paradise Pink for women.”

AllOut Blaze

Delivers comfort and grip to hikers and hill walkers…

“Merrell, the world’s leading rugged outdoor footwear brand*, has launched Allout Blaze – a hill and trail walking shoe with the perfect attributes for coping with more undulating terrain. Developed in conjunction with the new Allout trail running range, Allout Blaze is Merrell’s fi rst walking shoe designed to promote a more natural and effi cient stride for agile and stable footing on the trail.

Working with Peter Daley from Dynamic Foam Products and Jay Dicharry MPT, CSC Merrell’s proprietary UniFlyTM technology ensures walking is as easy on the body as it can be. This is achieved through an anatomically contoured UniFlyTM foot wrap that is in continuous contact with the 3 main arches of the feet. Contact with the arch acts to relax the foot, conserving energy and allows for a larger and more effi cient contraction and recoil on each and every stride -resulting in increased mobility.

UniFlyTM technology then extends further, bringing protection to the foot with durable yet lightweight ‘shock’ pods placed in the heel and forefoot. These ensure a stable takeoff and soft landing, distributing impact and providing great feedback from the ground.

The Allout Blaze also features StratafuseTM technology injecting the foot cage into the mesh upper, fusing it together and creating a lightweight, highly durable, glove-like fi t. A Vibram® outsole with aggressive lugs then provides stability in all conditions and the increased surface area delivered by a larger outsole footprint helps add continuous traction.

Allout Blaze is perfect for hiking when stiff , heavy boots are not necessary. Available for men in Navy/Moss and for women in Black & Slate/Blush.”

About Merrell

Merrell was founded in 1981 and has been providing people who enjoy time outdoors with quality performance hardware ever since. The company’s philosophy is based on encouraging and equipping everyone to Get Outside to seek adventure, exhilaration and new experiences.

Merrell’s performance footwear and apparel includes ranges for Trail Running, Hiking, Walking and Lifestyle.

*Merrell is ranked by Sporting Goods Intelligence as the Number 1 Worldwide Rugged Outdoor Footwear Brand by market share. The Merrell brand is wholly owned by Wolverine World Wide Inc.

Merrell & Gore Create Exclusive Minimal Footwear For Autumn/Winter 2013

Merrell have revealed some of their latest product for Autumn/Winter 2013, teaming up with Gore to create a product that combines that trusted Merrell glove like fit with exceptional breathability and waterproof performance. Just what minimalist fans need to see them through the winter. I’ve already worn the Merrell Ascend Glove out, but will be putting them to the test in the Cairngorms over the next couple of weeks with a view to writing a review. Watch this space.

Press Release

Merrell And Gore Create Exclusive Minimal Footwear For Autumn/Winter 2013

Unique Collaboration Delivers New Minimal Options For The Trail

Leading outdoor footwear and apparel brand Merrell, has teamed up with W.L. Gore & Associates to create two exclusive products launching Autumn/Winter 2013. The Merrell GORE-TEX® ConnectFit range delivers products providing an incredible natural glove-like fit with exceptional breathability and waterproof performance. Developed with the end goal of creating the most natural feeling GORE-TEX® shoes possible, three key design and construction processes were the focus of the collaboration.

To provide Natural Motion during the stride, layers of the construction underfoot had to be minimized to allow the shoe to contour naturally with the foot. Merrell’s unique minimal construction techniques combine with GORE-TEX® components whilst stripping out glue, board and other materials used in traditional construction. Enhancing the flexibility of the shoe around key areas of the foot allows it to move more naturally.

To achieve a Glove-Like Fit a highly supple upper has been developed with two different GORE-TEX® laminates being combined into one unique lining system. A GORE-TEX® laminate with a soft feel is applied to panels of the shoe which are more static, whilst a more stretchy GORE-TEX® laminate is applied to areas of the shoe which move more allowing the shoe to comfortably hug the foot with every step. GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort product technology delivers exceptional Climate Comfort by ensuring the highest levels of waterproof and breathable performance wherever and whenever the shoes are used. GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort Footwear is ideal for moderate and warmer conditions, and great for high aerobic-output activities. At the heart of this GORE-TEX® product technology is an extremely thin membrane that’s durably waterproof, windproof, and breathable. It has over 9 billion pores per square inch. These pores are 700 times larger than a water vapour molecule which means perspiration passes right through. This is what makes the membrane breathable.

Connectfit Technology Is Available In Two Brand New Merrell Products Both Designed For Use On The Trail

Merrell’s Ascend Glove with GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort Technology is a trail running shoe inspired by the Merrell Barefoot collection. It features 0mm drop from heel to toe and 6mm of cushioning for a true minimal experience. Merrell’s new Motion Mesh upper provides support and a seamless interior for an extremely comfortable feel, even sockless. A new Vibram® outsole is also engineered for optimal performance on a rugged trail, complete with Trail Protect plates for extra protection underfoot in the heel and forefoot.

The Merrell Proterra with GORE-TEX® Extended Comfort Technology Sport Mid and Shoe versions use Merrell Stratafuse™ technology, injecting the foot cage into the mesh upper, fusing it without seams for a lightweight, agile and responsive fee, making it a more natural and extremely comfortable choice for day hiking, walking and exploring the trail.

The Merrell range is available from:

Merrell Mix Master Tuff Review

Back at the beginning of December I received a preview pair of Merrell Mix Master Tuff. The Merrell Mix Master Tuff is one of the latest offerings in the Merrell M-Connect series and is a more rugged version of the road/trail hybrid Mix Master series, designed for the toughest conditions you’ll encounter on the trail.

“Feel the freedom of more ground connection with our tough-as-nails Mix Master Tuff: a minimalist hiking shoe with 4mm drop in its lightweight cushioning, and an ultra lightweight upper built to last. Our Float™ midsole’s low profile, athletic design gives you better ground feel and control. Sticky lugs feel aggressive in town and on the trail.”

I was suitably impressed with the Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock that I tested back in October but the Merrell Mix Master Tuff takes it to a whole new level and has become my go-to shoe for trail runs of any distance. The 2013 ultramarathon season sees me returning once again to the 53 mile Highland Fling and the 95 mile West Highland Way Race, amongst others, and at this point it looks likely that I will be wearing the Tuffs to tackle the events. The undulating and often technical terrain of these races is exactly what the Tuffs were made for.

The stack height of the shoe, the distance between the bottom of your foot and the ground, is 23mm and there is a 4mm drop from heel to toe. As such, the shoe sits midway between a traditional running shoe and a completely minimalist shoe. A 1mm forefoot shock absorption plate maintains forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure. The tread consists of 3.5mm lugs and, as with the Aeroblock, uses a Merrell mix sole/sticky rubber.

The lightweight Fabric and synthetic upper makes use of a bellows tongue to keep debris out, essential when out on the trail. Whilst not waterproof, the mesh is highly breathable and lets water quickly drain from the shoes. A protective skirting runs around the upper, offering complete protection from trail debris.

In terms of fit the Tuff has considerably more room in the toe box and is a looser fit than the Mix Master Aeroblock, something I personally prefer as it facilitates greater toe splay. The shoe was comfortable from the outset, with no requirement to ‘break it in’. It’s not a warm shoe given the highly breathable mesh but, again, this is something that works for me personally. In wet weather, the Tuff has coped well with deep puddles, with no retention of water. Having tested the shoe on a variety of terrain over the past 2 months approx., the only ‘issue’ I have come across has been with ice and I have yet to find a trainer that does cope well in those conditions.

In summary, the Merrell Mix Master Tuff is a high quality construction shoe, just as you would expect from Merrell, and offers excellent levels of protection from the terrain and elements. Thanks to this combination, I have earmarked it as my likely ultramarathon shoe for 2013 and would definitely recommend the Mix Master Tuff to anyone looking for a trail shoe suitable for any distance.

Specifications

Upper/Lining

  • Strobel construction
  • Fabric and synthetic upper
  • Low cut upper
  • Bellows tongue keeps debris out
  • Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
  • EVA anatomical footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution
  • 2mm EVA insole for comfort and shock absorption

Midsole/Outsole

  • 4mm Drop / 12mm Cush / 23mm 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
  • 1mm Forefoot shock absorption plate maintains forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure
  • 3.5mm lugs for more street to trail feel
  • Merrell Mix Tuff Sole / Sticky Rubber

Men’s Weight: 1lb 4oz

The Merrell range is available from http://www.fitnessfootwear.com/

Merrell Trail Glove Review

Merrell were kind enough to send me a pair of the Merrell Trail Gloves to try out. I spent approximately a month testing out the shoes before a final weekend spent putting them through their paces in the Cairngorms.

The Barefootin’ blog post (below) outlines my positive experience with the shoes.

At the time of testing, I was building up to my A race of the year, the 95 mile West Highland Way Race and, as such, I didn’t push the shoe to the limits in terms of the distance run. I am keen to see how I cope running in excess of 20 miles in the shoe. Check out the Barefootin’ blog post for a review of how the shoes fared on the rocky trails of the Cairngorms.

Barefootin’

New post at The Running Bug, ‘Barefootin’

When it’s all you can do not to pump your hands in the air as one of your favourite trance tracks comes into the mix, you know that it’s as near to a perfect run as you can get and this run was certainly a contender on that front.

Coming off the back of the Highland Fling in late April and then the Cateran Trail Ultra the previous weekend, I was still carrying the niggle in my right ankle that I had picked up early on in the Cateran. With this in mind, I had planned a fairly gentle weekend of running but, as is so often the case, things just didn’t go to plan.

The location was the first part of the plan to change. We received an invite to join Mrs Mac’s mum and dad staying in Coylumbridge, just outside Aviemore and right at the foot of some of my favourite trails. Little did we know when we accepted the invite that we would arrive on the Friday to temperatures around 28 degrees and that the temperatures were set to continue right through the weekend – bonus!

Waking just after 5.30am on the Saturday to a glorious sunny day, I set out to run the 5 miles approx. of uphill that takes you from Coylumbridge to the mouth of the Lairig Ghru, one of my favourite, rooty, rocky trails consisting of approx. 3 miles of forest road and then a further 2 miles of singletrack.

As they say, what goes up, must come down and, as I have blogged before, this has to be one of the best descents in Scotland, taking me back down to Coylumbridge in time for some pre breakfast sunbathing before everyone else got up (yes, it was THAT hot!).

As the temperatures rose, the plans for the day were scaled back slightly and we ended up spending the morning walking from Glenmore to the Green Loch and then on to Ryvoan Bothy where we had lunch. We took a high path on the way there and then the lower route that we usually take on the way back and, with the discovery of yet another rocky, rooty path, I made a mental note to run the high path in future.

Waking at 6.00am on the Sunday, I set out again, this time in the direction of Loch Einich for a run that totalled just over 12 miles. It felt even hotter than the previous day and I ditched the top to run in Anton Krupicka style (only a ‘slightly’ more rotund version!). I figured that I wasn’t going to meet anyone this far out as 6.00 am. I can only apologise to the two people that I did see – I sincerely hope you were able to erase the image from your minds!

The waters en route were quite high and, coming to the last of these, I waded in until my legs felt like icicles (strangely refreshing) before turning around and heading back to Coylumbridge. I was approx 1 to 1.5 miles short of Loch Einich itself but was conscious of the time and wanted to be back before the family were up. An all day breakfast from the excellent Mountain Cafe was planned and, considering that my food intake up to that point had consisted of half a pack of Honey Stingers, I had built up quite an appetite!

Heading back along the high route this time, listening to Armin van Buuren in the mix, takes me back to the start of this post. I was having an absolute blast. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Now there was one significantly different element in all of this. I spent the entire weekend, both running and walking, in Merrell Trail Gloves. Back at the end of April Merrell were kind enough to send me a pair of their Trail Gloves to test. I have been running in the Trail Gloves through the week over shorter distances but, this weekend, I wanted to give them a real test on some of the best technical and harsh trails that I know.

I have dabbled with minimalist shoes in the past and, after reading Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run” the first time, I experimented by running barefoot on a treadmill (gets surprisingly hot underfoot!) before ‘progressing’ to a pair of neoprene surfers booties (gets surprisingly hot in the shoe!). I have since tried a few different minimalist shoes.

The idea behind minimalist running is as follows:

  1. Align your posture
  2. Balance your foot-landing
  3. Count your cadence

As simple as ABC! There is considerably more information over at http://www.merrell.com/UK/en/Barefoot

Be sure to check out the Running Bug Good Form Guide as well.

The one thing that I just can’t stress enough is to start slow and build up barefoot activities, especially if you are new to running any distance.

The idea is to stimulate and strengthen your feet and this may well prove painful in the initial stages until your feet have become accustomed to running without the rigidity and cushioning of trainers. I found that my calf muscles in particular often tightened up during or after a barefoot run so I wore Compressport calf compression whilst running and this appears to have totally removed this issue from the equation.

As regular readers may be aware, the Merrells are quite far removed from my usual medium to long distance trail shoe. Weighing in at only 176g the shoes have a 0mm ball to heel drop with 4mm compression molded EVA midsole cushions and a 1mm forefoot shock absorption plate that maintains forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure.

Up until this weekend I had been testing them on the trails around Ellon and along the old railway line, the Formartine & Buchan Way. Compacted gravel trails, rooty, rocky forest trails, grass and mud all proved no problem as the Trail Gloves took everything that I could throw at them in their stride. Running through muddy puddles, they filled up and emptied again just as quick, leaving the feet to quickly dry off before encountering the next puddle. This was equally true this weekend as they filled with ice cold river water and emptied again, providing temporary refreshment for my feet in the heat.

The things that struck me were the roomy toe box, allowing the feet to splay, the breathability of the shoe, and the change in my running form that came (mostly) naturally. My cadence was increased, taking smaller steps so as not to stride out too far and land on the heel.

The main difference, and possibly even more exaggerated for me given the cushioning that I am used to, was feeling every rock, root and stone underfoot. Whilst strange at first, I soon learned to be more careful in picking my route rather than just trying to run over the top of everything and, in doing so, found myself ‘skipping’ about.

On a rare occasion I would misplace my foot and/or there simply would be no ‘good’ spot for footfall, and on these occasions I would feel whatever was underfoot. However, I actually found that this connecting with the terrain underfoot added to the run.

Blinded by the sun at one point this weekend, I kicked a rock which, unfortunately, turned out to be well rooted in the ground. I was surprised not to break my toe but it would appear that the rubber toe bumper on the Trail Glove offers more protection than might be expected of a shoe that can roll completely into a ball and, other than the initial sharp pain, there were no long term ill effects.

One thing that I can say for sure about running in the Trail Gloves is that it is FUN!

My experience with the Trail Glove has actually left me wondering just how far I could run in them, though with the 95 mile West Highland Way Race now less than 4 weeks away, sensibility prevents me from testing this out… for now at least. Certainly, I know of a couple of ultra runners who have run around the 50 mile mark in Merrell Trail Gloves. Going by my efforts of 10 and 12 miles this weekend, I reckon I could run at least 20 miles in them, if not more. Once the West Highland Way Race has passed it will definitely be time to put my theory to the test!

I have also found myself wearing the shoes for everyday use. Funnily enough, I took to running in them quicker than I did to walking in them and, if anything, it is my walking style that needs improved!

The Merrell minimalist range now includes ranges for Run, Train, Water and Life. Runners contemplating the minimalist approach to running should check out the Trail Glove and/or the Road Glove. Merrell have also recently added the Run Bare Access shoe to the range. Described as “For distance runners and those new on the path to barefoot running”, the shoe maintains the 0mm drop but with additional cushioning. Now that sounds like my next shoe for sure!

Don’t just take my word for it, check out what everyone else thinks online.

One reviewer wrote “The trail glove is to trainers what Apple Macs are to computers”. I don’t think you can pay much more of a compliment than that!

“I bet you can barefoot all night long
Take off your shoes and throw them away, 
Come back and get them another day
We’re barefootin’, We’re barefootin’, 
We’re barefootin’, We’re barefootin’”

Robert Parker – 1966 

The Merrell range is available from http://www.fitnessfootwear.com/

Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock Review

With a name like Mix Master, it may sound like something more suited to ripping up the dancefloor but, after a month of testing, the Merrell Mix Master Aeroblock certainly looks like it will rip up the trail.

Most people will be familiar with Merrell’s excellent minimalist offerings. The Merrell Trail Glove is a personal favourite of mine with an excellent reputation amongst minimalist runners. However, when it comes to medium to long distance running, especially on rocky, rooty terrain, the majority of people will appreciate just a little more comfort and protection. That’s where the Mix Master Aeroblock comes in.

If the Mix Master Aeroblock is anything to go by, Merrell will soon carve themselves a niche in the lightweight trainer market as well as in the minimalist market. The Aeroblock was comfortable from the outset, although, coming from Inov8 315s and Merrell Trail Gloves, with ample room in the toe box, the snug, glove like fit of the Mix Master Aeroblock did take a bit of getting used to. I do have particularly wide feet however and any thoughts about the snug fit soon passed once I started running.

Performance wise, the Aeroblock coped well with all manner of terrain, from forest tracks and trails to steep muddy ascents and pavements/roads. The only issue I experienced was with some slight slippage on a mossy, damp, compacted trail close to home but then, for comparisons sake, I ran the same trail this weekend in my Inov8s and found the exact same issue.

I was surprised at just how well the Aeroblock dealt with a muddy session in the Quarrel Woods on the outskirts of Elgin and, especially, with how sure footed I felt ascending a particularly steep and muddy part of trail.

The Aeroblock is a lightweight trail shoe that offers a good deal of protection from the terrain and elements. The construction is high quality, just as you would expect from Merrell and, having given the shoe a hammering this past month in all weathers and on a variety of terrain, there is no evidence of any wear on the sole or on the shoe itself.

I have read a number of reviews of the Aeroblock, from both European and US sources and I have yet to come across a bad review. All are unanimously impressed by this, Merrell’s step into the lightweight trail shoe market.

I have run the majority of my external runs in the Aeroblock this past month without giving any thought to any of my other trainers and will likely continue to do so. I am looking for a shoe to run medium to ultra distance in and this is a serious contender.

Note: This is a minimalist running shoe. If you are not used to using minimalist shoes, it is advised that you build up your mileage slowly i.e. Run no more than 10% of your typical running distance for the first 2–3 weeks and then gradually increase mileage by 10%–20% every couple of weeks.

Pros

  • Snug, glove like fit
  • Good grip on a variety of terrain
  • Easy clean

Cons

  • Slight slippage on damp, compacted terrain

Details & Features

  • 9 mm heel / 5 mm ball = 4mm drop
  • Metatarsal shock absorption plate for extra protection
  • Highly breathable, protective EZClean™ upper
  • Aeroblock® fabric upper with a closed cell mesh lining warms a protects against wind and weather keeping you comfortable in cool weather conditions
  • 3.5 mm lugs for more street to trail feel
  • Merrell mix sole / sticky rubber

The Merrell range is available from http://www.fitnessfootwear.com/

Merrell Blog – 10 Best Trail Runs In The UK

Thanks to Merrell for the mention on their recent Merrell Blog post, 10 Best Trail Runs In The UK. I had a small amount of input in suggesting the West Highland Way as a potential route for their 10 Best Trail Runs In The UK post. It’s good to see Scotland being included in the post as it’s so often forgotten in the national media when this kind of listing is compiled. I particularly liked the inclusion of the West Highland Way Race weather warning:

“Weather. There will be some. When the sun shines, it’ll be hot. When it’s raining, it’ll be cold and wet. If it’s windy, there’ll be less midges.”

Read the full post:

New Merrell Spring Styles Available Now

The Merrell shoe range has been refreshed and updated in time for Spring, with new models and colour options available. Those looking for something for longer distances should check out the new aggressive trail shoe, the Mix Master Tuff (review), while minimalist fans should check out the Vapor Glove, Merrell’s most minimal barefoot shoe to date, and the Bare Access 2. See what Birthday Shoes have to say about the Vapor Glove and Bare Access 2 below:

Mix Master Tuff

Feel the freedom of more ground connection with our tough-as-nails Mix Master Tuff: a minimalist hiking shoe with 4mm drop in its lightweight cushioning, and an ultra lightweight upper built to last. Our Float™ midsole’s low profile, athletic design gives you better ground feel and control. Sticky lugs feel aggressive in town and on the trail.

Upper/Lining

  • Fabric and synthetic upper
  • Bellows tongue keeps debris out
  • M-Select FRESH naturally prevents odor before it starts for fresh smelling feet
  • EVA anatomical footbed
  • Reflective details for increased visibility in low light

Midsole/Outsole

  • 4mm Drop / 12mm Cush / 23mm Stack Height
  • Merrell air cushion in the heel absorbs shock and adds stability
  • Merrell Float™ midsole is 10% thinner and 25% lighter to provide more feel and ground control
  • Trail Protect pad in the forefoot offers additional support off road
  • 3.5mm lugs for more street to trail feel
  • M-Select GRIP tunes each outsole with durable traction that grips when and where you need it

Men’s Sizes: 7-12,13,14,15 Men’s Weight: 10oz (1/2 pair)

Barefoot Run Bare Access

The best of all barefoot worlds, our Bare Access shoe has a 0mm drop to let your feet land flat, and uniform toe to heel cushioning – an ideal feature for longer distances, harder surfaces or transitioning to barefoot running. Its breathable upper adds to your foot freedom with its feather-light construction.

Upper/Lining

  • Mesh and synthetic upper
  • Molded eyelets for secure lacing
  • Fused rubber toe bumper provides durability and protection
  • External heel stability arm
  • M-Select FRESH naturally prevents odor before it starts for fresh smelling feet
  • Reflective details for increased visibility in low light

Midsole/Outsole

  • 0mm Drop / 8mm Cush / 13.5mm Stack Height
  • Vibram® outsole

Men’s Sizes: 7-12,13,14,15 Men’s Weight: 7oz (1/2 pair)

Barefoot Run 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.

Upper/Lining

  • Breathable mesh upper
  • External TPU heel sling for contoured support
  • M-Select FRESH naturally prevents odor before it starts for fresh smelling feet
  • Mesh footbed
  • Reflective details for increased visibility in low light
  • Wash as needed in cold water (gentle cycle). Air dry

Midsole/Outsole

  • 0mm Drop / 0mm Cush / 5.5mm Stack Height
  • Vibram® outsole

Men’s Sizes: 7-12,13,14,15 Men’s Weight: 5oz (1/2 pair)

Trainer Transitions

Someone recently queried my trainer preferences and it is right enough that I have undergone some transitions on the footwear front these past 12-14 months. My footwear requirements are essentially two fold:

  • I require minimalist trainers for both running and everyday use
  • I require trainers suited to both training for and racing in ultramarathons

Of late, these two requirements have converged and I have found myself looking for a minimalist, ultra capable shoe.

When it comes to footwear I am on a journey of discovery, trying to ascertain what works best for a given situation, terrain and/or mileage. Given that the range of shoes on offer is constantly evolving, it is only natural that my preferences similarly evolve.

For a while I couldn’t see past Inov8 Roclite 305s, my favourite trainer for a long, long time and, by the time Inov8 stopped producing these (why, why, why???), I had gone through 5 pairs!

This time last year, my focus was very much on completing 7 ultramarathons and, in particular, on getting to the finish line of my first ever West Highland Way Race, a 95 mile race with 14,760 feet of ascent. As a larger runner, I was looking for a shoe that fulfilled all of the typical requirements of a trail shoe but, also, that might assist me in getting my bulk from point A, at the start in Milngavie, to point B, at the finish in Fort William.

To this effect, I began training and racing in Hoka One One shoes, to many people the antithesis of minimal running and yet a shoe that is both super lightweight and with only a 4mm heel to toe drop. As such, it shares many similarities with your typical minimalist shoe. This ends with the rather distinctive midsole that contains 2.5 times the usual midsole EVA, leading many to christen them ‘clown shoes’ and/or ‘platforms’.

I received my first pair of Hokas to try out in November 2011, the Hoka One One Mafate and, after some initial success, I purchased a pair of Stinson Evos in time for the 2012 ultra season, breaking them in at the D33, the inaugural race of 2012.

Aesthetically, the shoes may not be to everyone’s liking and I did find that opinion was generally quite polarised. Fair enough, not every shoe is to everyone’s liking. What did surprise me, however, was just how vocal some of the haters were, with some going so far as to even accuse Hoka wearers of ‘cheating’! Despite the anti Hoka backlash, their popularity has grown and they can now commonly be seen at ultras and other events.

At the same time as I was training in Hokas, I was also embracing minimalism in my running. You might not think that the two could sit together easily but, as mentioned previously, the Hokas had only a 4mm drop. The Hokas were worn for all my long slow runs and I spent pretty much the remainder of my time in minimalist shoes, more often than not Merrell Trail Gloves. This extended not just to shorter runs but also to daily life.

I have well documented my finish at the West Highland Way Race in apocalyptic weather conditions and with the additional complications of stomach ‘issues’ and projectile vomit. However, I did it. I got to the end. It wasn’t fast and it certainly wasn’t pretty but I crossed that finish line in Fort William and joined the West Highland Way ‘family’ – and I did it in Hokas.

I finished the race with what looked like the start of trench foot. Given the weather conditions I don’t think any footwear really fared well that weekend. If anything, I possibly benefited from the slightly raised sole of the Hoka. I also finished the race with acute pain in my hip which was diagnosed as ITB at the post race massage. I didn’t think too much about this at the time. In all honesty, I was just relieved to find that I hadn’t somehow cracked the joint as this was what was going through my mind at the time!

At the following race, the Clyde Stride, one of my Hokas split, resulting in some nasty blistering where my foot was attempting to break out from under the constraints of the shoe. I retired the Hokas as I waited for a replacement to arrive which, due to high demand, meant that I didn’t have them for the Devil O’ The Highlands or the Speyside Way Races. What I did find at both of these races was that I finished the events without the by now usual tightness in my ITB.

I decided to test the theory that the Hokas were in some way aggravating my ITB issues and kept running in more conventional trainers. The lack of continued ITB issues led me to permanently retire them and to add to my 2013 goals – Not only was the intention to complete the 2013 West Highland Way Race with a new PB. I now wanted to do it in more minimalist shoes.

One thing in particular stands out. It was great to once again feel more connected to the terrain. I had to revert to picking my line again rather than running roughshod over whatever lay beneath me but there was something preferable about once again having that level of connection.

Inov8 315s were the initial replacement but, in the last few months of 2012, I was fortunate enough to receive Merrell Mix Master Aeroblocks and then Merrell Mix Master Tuffs to test, both of which really impressed me. The Mix Master Tuffs are currently my go-to trail shoe for any distance of run and there’s a high chance that these will be the shoe that I toe the line in at the 2013 West Highland Way Race.

When it comes to minimalist running and every day use I am spoilt for choice. I still spend a lot of time in the Merrell Trail Glove and I am looking forward to seeing what the new Bare Access and Vapor Gloves have to offer. I have also taken to the Skechers GObionic and Vibram Five Fingers Spyridon shoes and am fortunate enough to have recently  been selected as part of the Mizuno EVO UK test team. These zero drop shoes are getting a lot of really positive reviews so it will be interesting to see how I fare with them.

So, that’s the story of my transition and takes us up to the current stage of my aforementioned ‘journey’. What works for me might not necessarily be suitable for someone else and I know a number of other runners who are, for example, running in Hokas without any issues whatsoever. It’s all just a question of seeing what works best for you as an individual.

2013 is going to be as exciting as ever with all the various running and non running challenges that I am going to face and, with a bit of luck, I will be able to add another West Highland Way Race goblet to the collection, albeit this time in a more minimalist shoe.