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Customer Review

on April 7, 2011
I should start by saying I have not run in my Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves, at least not yet. I may one day. I am not an avid runner, more of a cyclist and occasional runner.

An aside about a separate product: I wore Nike Frees for about five years until very recently. I did run extensively in my last pair (as I was overseas and away from my bicycles) and they were great. I mostly wore them for casual and work (in an office with fairly lax dress code enforcement) use. I would not shut up about those shoes. I would evangelize about Nike Frees to anyone who would listen. Over five years, I probably went through six or seven pairs, none of which I really wore out, just upgraded or changed styles. My last pair were quite worn when I gave them away to a guy overseas. I decided to try a change, so I ordered a pair of these online, sight unseen.

Within about fifteen seconds of walking around my house in the Merrells, I knew my love affair with the Nike Free was over forever. THIS IS THE SHOE I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR MY WHOLE LIFE. I am way more excited about this shoe than any heterosexual male ought to be about any shoe, ever. But there you have it.

The sole is a perfect combination of firmness and flexibility. It feels much more like walking "barefoot" than any other "minimalist" shoe I have ever tried. Yet the side of the sole curves in to provide a certain measure of arch support. I do have fairly high arches, but my feet have always been strong enough that I haven't obsessed about finding great arch support. Those who have avoided "minimalist" shoes because of the arch support issue may want to give this model a serious look.

The liner is comfortable with or without socks. I usually go without -- almost always, in fact -- but the shoe has enough "give" that it's quite comfortable either way.

The large toe box is a major component of the shoe's comfort, but it must be said that it makes the shoe look just a wee bit dorky. If you can live with that in the name of comfort, go for it.

The only very slight drawback of this shoe is that it doesn't stretch the way my Frees did ... I actually have to loosen the top few rows of laces to get in or out of them, then tighten them back by hand to tie them up. I could treat my Frees as if they were almost slippers -- I don't think I'd tied or untied them in over a year by the time I got rid of my last pair -- but those days are over. Again, small price to pay, but it should be noted.

The online "professional" reviews (mostly running magazine sites and blogs) I consulted before picking these shoes were uniformly enthusiastic about them. They have exceeded the very high expectations created by those reviews. I am pleased to add my voice to the chorus of those who absolutely love these shoes.
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