Merrell Tough Glove Shoes

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Manufacturer Description

Voraciously versatile, this minimalist master mixes it up anywhere and with any adventure, stretching the realm of natural motion in the face of it all. With its simplicity and lightweight performance, it’s a barefoot experience tough not to love.


  • Full grain leather upper wraps the foot
  • Merrell Omni-Fit lacing system provides a precise, glove-like fit
  • Internal support construction secures the midfoot for optimal fit and support
  • Non-removable microfiber footbed treated with Aegis antimicrobial solution resists odor
  • 4mm compression molded EVA midsole cushions
  • 1mm forefoot shock absorption plate maintains forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure
  • 0mm ball to heel drop keeps you connected to your terrain
  • Vibram Trail Glove Sole/ Rubber Compound TC-1
  • Measured on Size 9
    • Weight – 205 g (7.2 oz) each
    • Stack Height – Heel (9.1 mm), Toe (8.1 mm), Drop (1 mm)
    • Forefoot Width – 100.6 mm
  • Retail – $120

YMMV Review

When I first heard about these I was realy excited. Not only was another company getting into the minimalist market but they were making a shoe that would get those puzzled looks you receive when wearing Vibram Five Fingers. If you have a pair you know what I mean. I really like my Five Fingers but I do not always fell appropriate wearing them around. Whether is is out and about or to work. This is where I thought these would ideally appeal to me and I am happy to say they do.

Design ★★★★½

The Merrell Tough Glove is made to be a minimalist shoe. First and foremost it is, there is zero drop from the heel of the shoe to the ball of the foot. Most modern day running shoes have about 12 mm of drop but this varies from shoe to shoe. The Tough Glove is similar to other Merrell barefoot offerings in many ways. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.

The Sole of the shoe is a Vibram sole, it is their TC-1 compound and is the same for all of the barefoot line. Another feature that is the same throughout the whole line is a 1 mm thick shock absorption plate that protects the foot and distributes pressure from objects.


There is 4mm of midsole cushioning to give a little shock absorbsion as well.

On the inside of the shoes there is a non-removable microfiber footbed which has been treated with Aegis antimicrobial solution to prevent that funk that can build up. Merrell has made thees shoes to be able to be worn barefoot (no socks). While I will address this in the fit section, this can lead to some stink. Merrell has also included the Omni-Fit lacing system into the Tough Glove. What it does is there are webbing straps that are connected to the tongue and route through the upper before connecting the the laces providing a more secure fit, glove-like they say. The upper is made of a full grain leather. Unlike the other models, there is no support in the back half of the shoe allowing it to be more pliable. With all these features, Merrell has still been able to keep the weight of these shoes to 7.2 oz each in my size 9. While this is just their first release in the barefoot line. It is obvious Merrell did their homework and produced a great product with many details thought out.

Fit ★★★★☆

The Merrell Tough Glove Shoes are supposed to fit like a glove. For the most part they do, except where they are not supposed to. One of the features that make these great is that they are a shoe, not having individual toe slots like the Vibram Five fingers or a glove.

I have tried on and even ran in all 3 of the Barefoot models by Merrell.

View from the Top

All three have a similar fit with a couple small details different.  The Tough Glove runs the largest of the three.  When putting them on the heel is slightly looser than the other two.  I did find that the fit through the midfoot though was similar in all three models.  It feels like the shoe is perfectly fit to your foot shape through the middle of the shoe.  So far up to this point the shoes are fitting like a glove.  Here is where we go off track by design. The toe box is made to be wide and let the toes splay out when walking, just like they do when you  are barefoot. These shoes definitely do that. All three models have a wider toe box that takes a bit to get used to when loking down on them.

The Merrell Tough Glove though runs slightly larger than the others in length. Where I felt the Trail glove was slightly short, the True Glove is right on, I feel like the Tough Glove is slightly long in length. While this is just fine for the purposes I am using them for, I am not sure if I would go down a size if I were to be using them as a running shoe.

Omni-Fit Lacing

The shoes itself is really flexable, even with the protection plate. The Tough Glove even moreso than the other I think. The leather upper is super soft and moves with your foot really well.  The lacing system works, it keeps the shoe snug, especially through the middle. My only issue I have had is since the webbing attatches to the tongue, you need to make sure the tongue is lined up straight to make sure your laces are even. Unless for some reason you want them laced to eitehr side which I don’t. The protection plate seems to work. It allows you to feel the ground when you are walking around but not keep feeling it when you are done. While the Tough Glove does not breathe as well as the other models, I am not using them for high output activities so I have needed teh extra breathability.

With Pants

Overall ★★★★☆

I have mainly been using the Tough Glove for wear around town and to work. While you can use it for on the trail as well as for running, I have other models I prefer for those activities.  My favorite part of these shoes is that they are minimalistic without looking crazy. I can get the benefits of a minimalistic shoe without all the looks and questions. I have worn them barefoot as well as with sock and must say I prefer a super thin sock most. They are super soft and comfortable and without reservation I would reccomend them.  I would mention that if you are between sizes I would size down on these. As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Minimalist but fashionable


  • Price
  • Take a bit longer to get into, not as long as VFF’s

About the Author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

5 Responses to “Merrell Tough Glove Shoes”

  1. Thanks for this review !
    I’d like to buy a pair of Tough Glove too, but I have a problem with the size : size 10 is just a bit too short because some of my toes (slightly) touch the end of the shoe ; with a 10,5 my toes have much more space but the other parts of the shoe (the heel for example) does not fit as well as 10 does – it’s (slightly) too large. So my question is : how does these shoes evolve with the time , and should I choose the “small” ones or the “big” ones ?
    Thank you very much !!

    • Julien,

      That is a tough one. I have found that since they are full leather they have stretched out a bit but normally this does not mean in length. If they are really close to being the right size you may get a little stretch in length. With the larger size they will always be big, with the smaller ones they may stretch to fit well. If you buy from Altrec which I link to on the page there is a 100% guarantee so if they do not stretch out over time you can return them even if worn. Thant is a n option if oyu want to give it a shot. Hope this helps.

  2. I have a similar question. They seem to fit my feet pretty well (but definitely on the smaller size). However when I run down hill my toes slam into the front of the shoe. It doesn’t feel natural. I am not sure if I went up a half size if I would still have this problem. Is this common with minimalist shoes? I feel like my New Balance Minimus do the same thing.

  3. bumping these questions again.
    I bought my shoes (specifically the Merrell Current water shoe) at a store without a 100% guarantee so I haven’t put them through the ringer off carpet. I sized down to 10 from 10.5 because the 10.5 had a thumb width of space between the top and big toe. One of my (wider) toes on my left slightly touches the top of the shoe (right foot perfect fit). Upon running and downhill, etc will this be pounding my toes into the front? First pair of minimalist shoes so I’ m unclear if they are supposed to fit close or not. My toes still splay out but there is a still bumping into the front (with only the left foot).


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