12 best Merrell minimalist running shoes

Based on reviews from 44 experts and 9,086 users. Learn how our rankings work or see our guide to Merrell minimalist running shoes. Updated Oct 2019.

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Runners trust the global shoe brand, Merrell, when it comes to outdoor performance footwear, since its collection of shoes rank high in over 100, 00 shoe reviews. Professional runners love the protection and performance they get from Merrell minimalist shoes, while casual runners start going natural with these. If you need a pair of minimalist trainers for your trail and track adventures, consider Merrell.

What makes a pair of Merrell minimalist shoes versatile?

  • Minimalist shoes are either designed for the road or trail. Minimalist road shoes provide greater contact with the ground, but you can expect better shock attenuation and responsive cushioning to ensure a stable ride. On the other hand, minimalist trail shoes have more bulk in the midsole and outsole to protect the underfoot from debris and impact forces. However, trail runners can expect more ground contact and a high level of traction.
  • Versatility is present in some of the best Merrell minimalist shoes. These pairs could be used in mixed trail and track runs. Minimalist shoes have also fared well in performance training, speed workouts, racing, cross training, sports and casual wear.
  • Runners can expect a lighter platform and lower heel to toe drops from the best Merrell minimalist shoes. There will be fewer features in every pair, but protection, comfort and responsiveness are still guaranteed for better performance on the track or trail.
  • Those who want to pursue a natural running movement should try out the best Merrell minimalist shoes before investing in barefoot trainers. Cushioning in minimalist shoes is only present to provide protection, but the soles could already have a natural feel on the ground. In addition, using minimalist shoes improves the soles’ response and flexibility on varied terrain.

What are the defining features of the best Merrell minimalist shoes?

  • Heel to toe drop. The best Merrell minimalist shoes have varying heel to toe drops. According to measurements, these fall between zero drop profiles to 6 mm. Higher than that would already be considered as a neutral shoe, a more cushioned platform than minimalist trainers. If you are starting out on minimalist running, choosing higher drops is recommended. You still need cushioning to get used to the ground contact and flexibility. However, if you have been doing minimalist runs for months and felt comfortable in low drops, you can use a zero drop platform. Your level of running experience should dictate the right heel to toe differential for you.
  • Weight. Minimalist shoes are lightweight because of fewer technologies in their technical build. However, if you want to do well in speed workouts and racing, select the best Merrell minimalist shoes that weight lesser than 200 grams. The lightweight platform will not drag you down on the trail or track so you can improve your speed record eventually. However, if you still want cushioning in your minimalist shoes, consider race shoes from Merrell.
  • Flexibility. Minimalist shoes will encourage natural flexing for runners, which is why you need to prioritize a flexible platform. Flexibility would allow you to pursue a natural running movement and keep your foot comfortable during the heel to toe transition. The best Merrell minimalist shoes will provide a great balance of flexibility and support, thanks to technologies like the Uni-Fly midsole and Omni-Fit lacing system.

6 best Merrell minimalist running shoes

  1. Merrell Vapor Glove 3
  2. Merrell Vapor Glove 2
  3. Merrell Trail Glove 5
  4. Merrell Vapor Glove 4
  5. Merrell Bare Access Flex 2
  6. Merrell Vapor Glove 4 3D
Jens Jakob Andersen

Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.

This shoe has recently been added to RunRepeat. There are still not enough reviews for us to assign it a CoreScore.
A score from 1 to 100 that summarizes opinions from users and experts. The average CoreScore is 78. More...