Our verdict


The sixth iteration of the Vapor Glove returns with a touch more protection to go with its barefoot feel. Though originally intended for the trails, reviewers found this Merrell minimalist runner to be just as incredible on the road and in the gym. Its $90 price tag may give off notions of entry-levelness, but its comfort, grip, and ride all scream high-performance through and through.


  • Insanely breathable
  • Wide feet-friendly
  • Outstanding ground feel
  • Offers some underfoot protection
  • Responsive and agile
  • Very flexible
  • Grippy even on wet surfaces
  • Comfy for sockless wear
  • Doesn’t stink easily
  • Best for light, non-rocky trails
  • Also great for road runs and workouts


  • Too roomy for narrow feet
  • Questionable upper durability
  • Cushioned insole prevents it from being truly ‘barefoot’

Who should buy the Vapor Glove 6

Get the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 if you:

  • Want a barefoot-style runner that can take on roads and light trails.
  • Need some level of protection from your minimalist trainers.
  • Are looking for a rugged barefoot shoe for cross-training.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 merrell-vapor-glove-6-upper-heel-logo

Who should not buy it

If you’re looking for a minimalist runner with a more snug, sock-like fit, check out the Trail Glove 5. For a more durable barefoot shoe, try the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 merrell-vapor-glove-6-upper-overlay

Feels like you’re wearing nothing

The Vapor Glove 6 features a mesh upper that’s thicker and softer than its predecessor’s. The abundance of perforations along its length, however, gives it incredible breathability, and allows it to drain and dry quickly.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 merrell-vapor-glove-6-upper-midfoot

The light material also makes the shoe a comfortable pick when opting to go sockless. Additionally, because it’s treated with an odor-control compound, one reviewer said that he’s “yet to have major issues with odor in this model.”

Avoid rubbing your feet against each other

One shoe tester noted that the v6 did not have the TPU overlays normally present on the medial-side midfoot of previous Vapor Gloves. Though this allows for more stretch, it does bring up concerns about the upper’s durability—especially considering that it’s a high-wear area.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 merrell-vapor-glove-6-upper-medial

The Vapor Glove 6 can take in wide feet

According to testers, the VG6 now offers a more welcoming fit:

  • “With or without socks I felt I had adequate room to splay”
  • “Spacious but it doesn’t feel like it’s too much”
  • “Plenty of room in the toe box, while not slipping around the heel & ankle.”

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 merrell-vapor-glove-6-toebox-top

However, one narrow-footed reviewer was dismayed that his Vapor Glove no longer lived up to its name, writing: “The toe box is a little too wide (it doesn’t fit like a glove).”

Punches above its weight class in terms of cushioning

The v6’s low stack gives it “outstanding sensitivity” and “a nice level of ground feedback,” reported critics.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 merrell-vapor-glove-6-midsole-midfoot

What sets it apart from previous VGs, though, is its built-in insole. The mild level of cushioning this offers equates to a bit more support and protection underfoot, and prevents the shoe from feeling too thin on paved roads.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 merrell-vapor-glove-6-insole

Barefoot purists, however, may want to consider stripping these off “for a truly flat insole/instep.”

The Vapor Glove 6 will keep you stable

Underneath the VG6 is a layer of Vibram rubber with 2-mm lugs. Although a bit thin, its aggressive tread pattern provides “great grip in wet and muddy conditions,” shared one reviewer.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 merrell-vapor-glove-6-outsole

Moreover, the fact that the outsole also wraps over the toe box and heel “adds a nice degree of traction, protection, and durability” to the shoe.

The Vaporfly isn’t the only fast ‘Vapor’ in town

Its thin overall stack affords the Vapor Glove 6 “a nice level of sole articulation” and makes it “so ridiculously flexible,” according to experts. 

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 merrell-vapor-glove-6-toebox-side

This flexibility—combined with its light weight and good road feel—makes for a fast and responsive ride. One runner (who has been running in minimalist shoes for 15 years) even shared that his “workout paces in the V.G.s are routinely faster.”

Gym rats love it, too

Though it is most suitable for running trails, plenty of users found that the Vapor Glove 6 also performed quite well on roads.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 merrell-vapor-glove-6-rearfoot

And because of its barefoot style, some gym-goers have taken to using the VG6s for workouts that need a good amount of proprioception and articulation such as deadlifts, lunges, split squats, and active foot exercises.