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July 28, 2023

Merrell Vapour Glove 6 vs. Xero Shoes 360 | Barefoot Shoe Comparison & Review

Inside this article:

Introduction 👟

Ever found yourself caught up in a mental tug of war between choosing the right barefoot shoe for trail running and cross-training? You're not alone! It's a common predicament when you've got brands like Merrell and Xero Shoes upping the barefoot game one shoe at a time. Today, we're putting two of their most impressive models under the microscope — Merrell's Vapor Glove 6 designed specifically for trail running fanatics and Xero Shoes' 360, hailed as the ultimate minimalist cross-training shoe.

Fear not, we're going to settle the dust by comparing these pairs on every front that matters to you. By the end of this article, you'll know which one outshines the other, whether it's hiking up a rocky trail or sweating it out in a high-intensity CrossFit session. Let the great barefoot shoe debate begin! Here's a refresher on what zero drop shoes are if you're new to the minimalist footwear world. 😊

Xero Shoes 360 Barefoot Shoes

Purpose and Versatility 🦶

Starting with the Vapor Glove 6, these shoes are purpose-built for trail running on light terrain. With an overall stack height of just 6mm, they deliver a barefoot-like feel that can really help you to stay connected with the earth during your run. But their versatility doesn't stop there. These shoes are also a sound choice for gym-based activities, particularly those that require a solid connection to the ground.

Merrell Vapour Glove 6 barefoot shoe

On the other hand, the 360 by Xero is a bona fide cross-training shoe designed for diverse activities from court sports, parkour, to CrossFit. The high-traction sole and rope-gripping rubber inlays provide all the grip you need for quick lateral movements, making them perfect for workouts that require speed and agility. In addition, these qualities make them a practical choice for obstacle courses and tough-mudder events.

A man wearing Xero Shoes 360 Barefoot Shoes

Both shoes, with their minimalist design, encourage a more natural foot movement. The Vapor Glove 6 and 360 deliver on flexibility and freedom of movement, making them suitable for a wide range of fitness activities and casual wear. Whether you’re performing deadlifts at the gym, going for a run in the park, or heading out for a leisurely walk with your dog, these shoes have got you covered.

Legs wearing Xero Shoes 360 Barefoot Shoes

For the barefoot enthusiasts seeking to strengthen their feet and improve foot health (Transitioning to Barefoot Shoes? 5 Exercises to Help Speed Up Your Transition), both the Vapor Glove 6 and 360 are excellent choices. Despite their different target activities, they each provide the comfort, versatility, and minimalist design that encourages the natural mechanics of foot movement.

Remember, transitioning to barefoot footwear is a journey, not a race. These shoes are a stepping stone in that journey, helping you reap the Benefits of Barefoot Shoes: A Beginner's Guide.

Design 😍

In the world of barefoot shoes, design does more than just turn heads; it influences functionality, durability, and of course, the level of minimalist feel.

Merrell Vapour Glove 6 barefoot shoe

Looking at the Vapor Glove 6 from Merrell, one aspect jumps out instantly - it's a full-on recycled materials fest! With 100% recycled breathable mesh for the upper, laces, and webbing, which serves to keep your feet cool and cozy. Speaking of upper, the shoe boasts a Merrell Barefoot 2 construction, designed to enhance foot positioning. The outsole incorporates 30% of recycled rubber - what we love to hear when we speak of being eco-friendly in your barefoot journey. The outsoles are Vibram® EcoStep, quite popular in the barefoot community for their grip and connection. An external rear sling locks your heel in to prevent any slip-ups.

Xero Shoes 360 Barefoot Shoes

The 360 from Xero Shoes. It's a vegan-friendly shoe, another way to make you feel good about your purchase. The 360 boasts an upper made of breathable mesh, key for those high-intensity workouts or long nature walks. The outsole is also of particular note. It uses a high-traction material, notably designed with rope-gripping rubbers to handle anything you throw at it. The design introduces Huarache-inspired tension straps to enhance functionality even further.

Merrell Vapour Glove 6 barefoot shoe

As for weight, the Vapor Glove 6 comes in at a mere 5.29oz per shoe, making them an ideal choice for those wanting a "barely there" experience. The Xero 360 is slightly heavier at 9.2oz (for a Men's size 9) but remains a lightweight contender for a cross-training shoe.

Xero Shoes 360 Barefoot Shoes sole

Both shoes definitely check the boxes for breathability and flexibility, but how 'barefoot' are they? The Vapor Glove 6 has a very low stack height of 6mm, reinforcing its minimalist creds. How much stack height is too much for a barefoot shoe? Well, that's a rabbit hole and a half, but you can diving into it with my blog post 'Barefoot Shoe Cushioning: How Much Do You Need?'.

Finally, let's touch on aesthetic appeal because, let's be honest, we all want a shoe that looks good. The Vapor Glove 6 has a sleek, sporty design suitable for the trails and beyond. The 360 opts for a more robust and stylish look with its chic design and Huarache-inspired straps, making it quite the head-turner in the gym, trails or wherever else your feet might take you.

Sizing and Fit Advice 📐

Sizing and fitting for barefoot shoes can feel like trying to solve a Rubik's cube blindfolded. Fret not, I've got your feet covered (pun entirely intended 😉).

Merrell Vapour Glove 6 barefoot shoe

Starting with the Vapour Glove 6, they're not your average run-of-the-mill shoe. It's a barefoot shoe built with a wider forefoot for a natural foot movement. This means that when compared to your regular Merrell shoe size, these run about ½ size larger.

a pair of Xero Shoes 360 Barefoot Shoes

When it comes to sizing with the 360, they keep it simple – order your usual size. Xero keeps it straight-forward allowing you the freedom to focus more on crushing your workout and less on if your shoe is going to slip off mid burpee. Let's face it, no one needs more stress during burpees.

If you're new to the land of minimalist footwear, checkout my complete guide on barefoot shoe sizing to help you on your adventure. Trust me, I know how intimidating it can be when you’re dipping your toes into the barefoot lifestyle for the first time, but remember – every great journey begins with a single step, or in this case, a single shoe size.

Price Comparison 💰

If you're like me, this is the section you've been waiting for. Because let's face it, the price of a pair of shoes can make or break the deal. Plus, we all love sneakily searching for a deal, don't we? 🕵️‍♂️

Merrell Vapour Glove 6 barefoot shoe

So, let's dive right in with the Vapor Glove 6. Priced at $90, it's positioned in the low to mid price range of barefoot shoes. Now, consider its lightweight nature, vegan materials, and a design built for trail running. Suddenly, that price tag might not seem quite so steep.

A pair f Xero Shoes 360 Barefoot Shoes

Looking at the 360 from Xero, these shoes are priced at $119.99 and are a bit pricier than the Merrell's. Although this might give pause to the budget-conscious among you, let's not forget it's vegan-friendly, durable, and is designed excellently for cross-training. Plus, they are praised for maintaining good posture and strengthening feet and legs, which can be a literal lifesaver for any athlete.

In the grand scheme of things, the price difference between these two shoe models isn't astronomical. But when it comes to the value for money, that's a personal judgement you have to make after considering the features of each model and your specific needs and priorities.

I always recommend checking out our sales page for any discount codes, you never known when you might stumble upon a cracking bargain.

About Merrell and Xero Shoes

When it comes to barefoot shoes, both the Vapour Glove 6 by Merrell and 360 by Xero Shoes are respected names in the industry. These shoe manufacturers have, over the years, been known for their dedication to crafting high-quality minimalist footwear that allows your feet to move naturally and freely while providing a sensitive connection to the ground.

Merrell, with its outdoor philosophy, has been a leading voice in the barefoot shoe category. The brand's commitment to sustainability is evident in their Vapor Glove 6 shoe, which features a Vibram® Ecostep recycled outsole and 100% recycled breathable mesh upper. By emphasizing recycled materials and minimal shoe design, Merrell continues to cater to the barefoot runners and minimalist enthusiasts searching for nature-friendly shoe alternatives.

Xero has established a reputation for itself by focusing on delivering the barefoot experience with their products. From just-enough protection to a 5,000-mile warranty, Xero Shoes promises not just comfort but also durability. What's more, with shoes made for a variety of activities, from walking to high-intensity training, Xero has made its 'barefoot shoes' proposition quite compelling. And let's not forget, Xero is a 100% vegan-friendly brand, aligning with the growing demand for cruelty-free and eco-conscious products in the footwear industry.

Both brands excel in their own particular ways. Merrell's leadership in the barefoot category brings minimalist trail running and training designs to the forefront. On the other hand, Xero's emphasis on lightweight performance shoes for quick lateral movements indicates their dedication to the functional aspect of barefoot shoes.

Returns & Customer Reviews 💬

Let's get the lowdown on how these shoes have been received by other barefoot enthusiasts, shall we? And while we're at it, let's take a peek at what these companies offer in terms of returns and warranties. ⏲️

First up, Merrell offers a 30-day return policy for unworn merchandise, which is handy if the Vapour Glove 6 isn't quite your Cinderella fit. Just remember, exchanges are always free with Merrell.

Overall the Vapour Glove gets a thumbs up for comfort 👍, but there is some concern about the durability of them.

Xero Shoes offers a 45-day return or exchange policy provided the shoes are unworn. They also throw in a 5,000-mile sole warranty and a 24-month manufacturing guarantee. Now that’s a warranty I can get behind! 🚀

The 360 - Men are widely appreciated for being versatile and comfortable. Their 'barefoot' feel and ability to aid in maintaining proper posture have been praised, especially for training and recovery exercises.

Final Thoughts ⭐

In the face-off between the Vapour Glove 6 by Merrell and 360 by Xero Shoes, the verdict hinges on your personal needs, lifestyle, and budget.

The Vapour Glove 6's barefoot constructuion and lightweight design, make it a solid pick for those who crave breathability and minimalism while hitting the trails. They've been crafted with a unique Ecostep recycled outsole designed to ensure a secure grip on varied trails surfaces. But do heed the community's feedback about durability. The shoe might require frequent replacements.

Conversely, the 360 from Xero Shoes is your go-to option if you're after an all-rounder cross-training shoe that won't retreat against high-demand activities. While higher priced, these Xeros offer rope-gripping rubber inlays that ensure stability during climbing sessions. But remember to size up for a comfy fit, especially if you've got wider feet.

In terms of eco-friendliness, both brands are stepping up their game. Merrell opts for recycled materials, while Xero Shoes treads the vegan-friendly path.

Before making the final call, don't forget to measure the value of your investment against your activity requirements, comfort needs, and not to mention, your budget. Check out our unique discount codes and subscribe to our newsletter for updates on sales and other offers.

At the end of the day, the best barefoot shoe is the one that makes you forget you’re wearing anything at all! Still can’t decide? Go back to the basics by revisting the 4 essential features of barefoot shoes. So, what are you waiting for? It's time lace up and hit the ground running! 💃

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