Obviously, the big news with today’s post is that it features a giveaway of another sweet Merrell shoe. This time around, it’s the Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove, a model that my wife has been testing for a couple of months, and one that the company introduced last year as “designed specifically for women, by women.” So there’s definitely a strong Girl Power vibe around the website today; maybe this finally makes up for all those Britney Spears, Beyonce and Shakira photos I used to post here all the time back in the old days. (OK, maybe not … but it’s a start.)
The Pace Glove is one of three models in Merrell’s barefoot collection for women, and is the one best suited for trail running, making it the female equivalent to the men’s Trail Glove that I reviewed earlier this month. In fact, it’s so similar to the Trail Glove that I initially questioned what exactly the distinctions are that make the Pace Glove a more female-oriented shoe.
That’s not meant as a knock; the Trail Glove is an outstanding shoe, and the Pace Glove is equally remarkable. It’s just that when comparing the two models, there’s not a whole lot to distinguish the male from the female of the species. At 4.7 ounces, the Pace Glove is a bit lighter than the 6.2-oz Trail Glove – not unlike women and men in general, right? - but its overall structure and performance features are otherwise nearly equivalent.
Like the Trail Glove, the Pace Glove has an upper constructed of microfiber and breathable air mesh, which provides nice ventilation while still keeping the foot well-insulated in cold conditions (especially with socks) when necessary. Rubber toe bumpers in front improve the upper’s durability and offer protection in case of toe-stubbing.
Merrell’s Omni-fit lacing system, along with vertical TPU overlays hooked into the laces, wraps the entire midfoot to make the shoe fit like a glove (thus the name, I suppose). It has the same synthetic leather rearfoot sling to stabilize the ankle, and a grippy microfiber footbed that prevents your foot from sliding around on top of the midsole.
Since all of these features are also present on the Trail Glove, and since one of my observations about that model was how the snug fit caused slight difficulty getting my foot into the shoe, I specifically asked my wife about this (more than once, actually). She reported no difficulty getting the shoes on, and she wears socks with them every day. This might reflect the relative narrowness of women’s feet compared to men’s – or maybe it just indicates that I have fat feet; we’re only an experiment of two. At any rate, she reported that the Pace Gloves are extremely comfortable, even when wearing them for several hours.
Turned upside down, you can’t tell a difference between the male and female shoes; they both utilize the identical Vibram TC-1 rubber outsole that provides great traction in nearly all trail conditions, and has proven to be extremely durable after hundreds of trail miles (my model) and approximately 100 mixed road and trail miles (my wife’s). I had a couple of small quibbles with this outsole in my Trail Glove review, but I have to say that I’m very impressed by how the lugs have retained their thickness even after extensive use.
Predictably, the best way to distinguish the male from the female is to look at the tail end. Instead of the thin ankle collar with pull-up thumb loop on the Trail Glove, the Pace Glove has a more lady-like foot sling that is stretchable but sits securely around the ankle once the shoe is in place. I suspect that the wrinkled fabric of this collar might be a source of mild discomfort with sockless runners, but since my wife isn’t in that category, it posed no problems whatsoever for her.
The same structure and technology that Merrell uses through the midsole and outsole of its men’s barefoot models are present in the Pace Glove as well. It’s built with a completely flexible, true zero-drop platform to promote the biomechanics of natural running. Total “off the ground” height of the Pace Glove is approximately 12mm in the heel and forefoot, combining the outsole thickness with a 4mm compression molded EVA midsole, 1mm shock absorption plate in the forefoot, and the thin insole footbed.
The height of this shoe was probably the most interesting consideration for me in comparing my wife’s performance feedback with my own. When I first wore my Merrells, the 12mm spec seemed relatively high – probably due to the fact that I’ve been running barefoot or using true minimalist footwear for the better part of two years – and the Trail Gloves at first seemed a little too cushiony to be truly minimalist. However, my wife typically uses thicker zero-drop shoes like GoLite’s Micro Lite, and she could tell a big difference in reduced cushioning and increased ground feel once starting with the Pace Gloves. She even developed some soreness underneath her metatarsal heads after increasing her distance too quickly with the Merrells; while this wasn’t a positive development for her, it was proof to me that this line of footwear really does approximate barefoot running quite effectively.
At this point, my wife doesn’t want to go any thinner than her Pace Gloves, and I wouldn’t want to go any thicker than my Trail Gloves; however, we both love wearing our respective Merrells. This was the genesis of the premise in my Trail Glove review that Merrell’s Barefoot line is well-positioned to become the first mainstream barefoot shoe, equally attractive to dedicated minimalist users as well as recreational runners who want to go as light and low as possible without giving up modest comfort and protective features. Just as it did with the men’s version, Merrell’s women’s Pace Glove should appeal to a broad spectrum of runners, and I anticipate it will become a lot of people’s favorite shoe this year.
The Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove retails for $100 from TravelCountry.com – but for one lucky female reader, I’ll spare you the trouble of buying a pair. So here’s your chance, ladies: the giveaway contest for one pair of Pace Gloves is on.
We’ll use the same contest rules as the other Merrell giveaway: one entry for a lone comment, plus one additional entry for a Facebook or Twitter link to this contest page, and a third for a blog link to this page. Men are welcome to enter and perhaps become a Sugar Daddy for their lucky gal. When you leave a comment below, tell me how many entries you’ve earned. The winner will be announced next Sunday, May 8th.
Good luck to everyone, and very big thanks to Merrell for sponsoring this giveaway!
*Product provided by Merrell
**See other product reviews on sidebar at right. If you have a product you’d like reviewed, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get updates as soon as they're posted! Click here to subscribe to Running and Rambling.
Check out the Running Life book for a collection of our most popular columns.