Running Shoe Review: Merrell Sonic Glove

They Say
“Move in sync with your natural stride over any terrain you choose wearing our supple Sonic Glove barefoot training shoe. A breathable, flexible softshell upper molds to your foot while pulling moisture out to keep it dry. The Vibram® sole and minimal cushioning underfoot give you close-to-the-ground protection and traction for unlimited access to any adventure.” – Merrell Barefoot USA
We Say
8.6/10
Trail running enthusiasts, the Merrell Sonic Glove offers more than just good protection for your feet, it also gives you a great barefoot ride.
Pros
- Snug and glove-like fit.
- Water-repelling upper
- Superb grip and traction.
- Excellent ground feedback.
- Great build quality

Cons
- Water repelling coating on upper affects foot ventilation.
- Steeper learning curve for those switching from conventional shoes.

The heel cup enhances the shoe's snug, glove-like fit.
The spacious toe cap allows the toes to be involved in the run.
Fit of the shoe

Snug and glove-like fit
The Sonic Glove features a heel-cup design, which fits very snugly around the heel and the Achilles. Though the upper, made of what Merrell calls a soft-shell material, feels stiff, we find that it gives the shoe a snug glove-like fit. The toe-box, on the other hand, is spacious enough to promote good barefoot-running form: It offers the toes space to be involved in the run – even if the Sonic Glove has no toe-pockets per se. Runners with more normal foot-width or who prefer a snugger fit at the toe-cap can tighten the fit of the shoe with the lacing system.

The sole of the shoe is only 4mm thick, similar to some Vibram FiveFingers models.
Sole

Only 4mm thick
The Merrell Sonic Glove features an outsole made of a tough, Vibram rubber compound. Like some of the Vibram FiveFingers (VFF) models, the shoe’s rubber sole is only 4mm thick. A 1mm thick shock-absorption plate has also been placed at the forefoot – the main impact point of mid- and forefoot-running.

More rigid and springy
Merrell has also customised the Vibram sole, making it slightly more rigid than those used in VFF models: This adds a touch of springiness to the footbed, while still allowing our feet to flex naturally. Still, with such minimal padding and support, as well as a 0mm heel-to-toe drop, there is a need to switch from heel-striking to midfoot running. Thankfully, we didn’t have too much difficulties doing so because the Sonic Glove felt more forgiving than competing models
The grooves at the forefoot area of the sole into four areas, mimicking toes.
The outsole lugs at the heel area of the shoe.
Grip/Traction

Trail-worthy lugs
The shoe may weigh a mere 184g, but it is in no way inferior to heavier models: The lugs offer superb traction on gravel, and even on muddy and wet areas. And while there are no toe-pockets, Merrell has divided the washboard-like grooves at the forefoot area of the sole into four areas – mimicking toes. We find that this improves toe-grip especially when running uphill. The thin and flexible sole also allows our feet to conform to the trail surface.

Watch where you land
The thin sole did pose slight problems on loose stones. Watch where your foot lands because you’ll definitely feel the sharp edges of these stones: And, like most trail shoes, traction suffered on wet, smooth rock surfaces.
Cover / Protection Offered To The Feet

Water-resistant
We also liked the shoe’s water-resistant properties: Puddles on the road or on trail will not be able to wet the shoe – or your feet. Don’t splash with abandon though – water is still able to seep in through the shoe tongue. But the water-repelling coating also resulted in a slight lack of ventilation for our feet.

A close-up of the tough, water-repelling upper.
Tough upper
We were impressed by the softshell upper: Not only was also not restrictive on the movement of our toes during our test run, it also did a good job of keeping trail debris out of the shoe. Though we didn’t have a chance to put its toughness to the test, the upper appears like it can more than withstand the bumps and nicks that come with trail running. Merrell has also incorporated a rubber toe-bumper at the front of the shoe. Still, to save yourself the pain, you will want to avoid kicking your feet on larger, mean-looking rocks during your run.
Feedback From The Ground

Maximum feedback
Excellent, given its 4mm-thick sole, and especially outstanding on trails. The feel from the ground even allows our feet to react to slightly slippery and wet uphill sections – which in turn made our run safer. However, on concrete, ground feedback bordered on being harsh. While we certainly won’t fault the shoe for that, you should remember to transit into these shoes progressively if you are coming from more conventional shoes or if you are primarily a heel-striker. For more experienced barefoot runners, these shoes are perfect for trail endurance events or shorter-distance road races.

Build And Durability

The sole is built to last. We hardly made an impression on it even after several long-distance runs on road and on trail. Ditto for the soft-shell upper.

Design/Aesthetics

A winner – thanks to its good looks and bright colours. Only available in the green colourway.

$169, available at all Royal Sporting House outlets.

If you've tried using the Merrell Sonic Glove, we'd love to find out what you think of the shoes! Write us your own review and post it in the comment box below this article or at our Facebook fan page.
 

 

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