Written by  
Last updated on:  
August 9, 2023

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

Inside this article:

Introduction 👟

Thinking of switching from more cushioned running shoes to barefoot running shoes? Maybe you're just looking to upgrade your running experience with a more natural, minimalist approach? You're at the right place! The transition to barefoot shoes can be quite a liberating change that's not easy at first but gets better with time, like drinking coffee.

Here, we're comparing the Merrell Vapor Glove 6 and the Xero HFS.

Merrell Vapour Glove barefoot shoes

The Vapour Glove 6 is a top-notch trail running shoe that screams minimalist design. With a breath of fresh air in its recycled breathable mesh upper and a Vibram® EcoStep outsole, these shoes bring maximum lightweight performance suiting the needs of runners who desire a modest, no-fuss design over fluff and vanity.

Xero Shoes HFS Barefoot Shoe

In the other corner, we have Xero's HFS, a road running shoe that takes a solid stance on barefoot freedom. With an upper that breathes effortlessly, a sole that takes its inspiration from tire tread, and a design that's all about comfort and lightweight, it's pretty clear why HFS might just stand for "Holy Fudging Shoe!" 😉

A man in boxing loves wearing Xero Shoes HFS | Barefoot Shoe

I'll break down both shoes across several key aspects: purpose and versatility, design, sizing, price, brand reputation, customer reviews, and return policies. So, strap in (or should I say 'strap on' since we're talking barefoot shoes 😉 ) and let's dive into the sole of the matter.

Remember, 'the shoe that fits one person, pinches another.', as Carl Jung would say.

Purpose and Versatility 🦶

Let's dive into what these shoes are made for and what they can do. Getting a barefoot shoe isn't about just buying a shoe, it’s about investing in your lifestyle. If a shoe can't match your versatile, unpredictable, and vibrant life, then is it really worth it? 🤔

Merrell Vapour Glove barefoot shoes

Starting off with the Vapour Glove 6, it is the go-to partner for trail running enthusiasts and those who prefer light trails. Made for optimal performance on trails, it allows your foot to move naturally, mimicking the feeling of running barefoot. If you're someone who gets a kick out of challenging varied terrains and aren't afraid of a bit of dirt and mud, then the Vapour Glove 6 is your friend. These shoes really are minimalist, which means they might be a bit light on the durability front, especially for the heavy-duty trail runners out there.

A coupl running with Xero Shoes HFS | Barefoot Shoe

The HFS - Lightweight Road Running Shoe, made for those who prefer to hit the road rather than dirt tracks. Lightweight and flexible, the HFS lets your feet move and bend naturally, optimizing your posture with a zero-drop design. Whether you're going for a brisk walk, a run, or pulling off a yoga pose on the road, the HFS offers the ground-feedback you need to move your body optimally. On top of that, they are also suitable for a variety of terrains including running tracks, asphalt, and even rocky hiking trails. However, for those heavy-duty tasks or long-distance runs, you might feel a lack of padding and find the soles a tad stiff. One thing that’s certain is it’s an option worth considering if you’re looking to versatile barefoot shoe to strengthen your feet and improve your foot health.

A mam sited with earphones on wearing Xero Shoes HFS | Barefoot Shoe

Take a couple of read-throughs of this Ultimate Guide to Barefoot Shoes might help you make a decision. Remember, the best shoe is the one that feels like an extension of your foot, not an hindrance.

Design 😍

Design, as we all know, is much more than just aesthetics when it comes to barefoot shoes. Performance, comfort, durability, and of course, the 'barefoot' factor are all driven by design.

Merrell Vapour Glove barefoot shoe

The Merrell Vapor Glove 6, true to Merrel's reputation, is built with breathability, flexibility, and durability in mind. It's designed with 100% recycled breathable mesh upper, laces, and webbing, making it a commendable eco-friendly option. One interesting feature is the bellows tongue to keep out debris; handy for when you're blazing down a dusty trail. The shoe is also built with a 30% recycled integrated EVA foam insole, Vibram® Ecostep recycled outsole, and the Merrell Barefoot 2 construction designed to keep the foot in a natural position, a nod towards authentic barefoot principles. But, just be aware that there are durability issues with the Vapor Gloves.

Xero Shoes HFS Barefoot Shoe upper side

The Xero HFS boasts a new lightweight, breathable mesh upper and a tire tread-inspired sole for that road grip. The true standout is the highly flexible sole that lets your foot move naturally, and a 5mm FeelTrue® rubber sole. Would you like a closer-to-barefoot experience? You can remove the 3.5mm insole for more ground-feedback.

Merrell Vapour Glove barefoot shoes

In a nutshell, the design of both shoes speaks volumes about their barefoot credentials. The difference comes down to their specific features and the day-to-day functionality they offer. If you're into recycled materials and keeping debris out of your shoes, the Vapor Glove 6 might be your go-to. But, if flexibility and having the option of a more barefoot feel appeal to you, you might lean towards the HFS. 🎯

Xero Shoes HFS Barefoot Shoe  sole

Sizing and Fit Advice 📐

This is often the tricky part about buying online, but don't sweat, I've got your back.

Merrell Vapour Glove barefoot shoes

For the Vapour Glove 6, it's all about embracing the spaciousness. It is a barefoot shoe that has been crafted with a full forefoot for that natural foot motion you crave. Interestingly, this model runs a ½ size larger than traditional Merrell sizing. So, if you want a similar fit to other Merrell styles, It's advisable to order a ½ size down than your usual size. A bit contrary to intuition, right?

Xero Shoes HFS Barefoot Shoe  side view

Now, as for the HFS, we're dealing with a different beast. These run small. Yes, you heard that right, small! So, get half a size larger than your normal size to achieve that desirable fit.

While we're on this topic, I'd also suggest checking out our helpful guide on barefoot shoe sizing for more insights on getting that perfect fit with your new kicks. Remember, a well-fitting shoe isn't just about comfort, it's vital for preventing blisters and improving your performance - especially when you're hitting the trails! 👟

Price Comparison 💰

Let's now get down to the nitty-gritty. How much do these bad boys on your feet cost?

Merrell Vapour Glove barefoot shoes

The Vapour Glove 6 ring in at a price of $90, is definitely a contender if you're looking for value for money within the barefoot shoe market. Keep your eyes peeled though, there could be a juicy Minimal-list discount code floating around here that could lighten the financial load. 👀

Xero Shoes HFS Barefoot Shoe

The Xero HFS shoes fetch a price tag of $119.99, a tad heftier than the Merrell. But remember, the value of a shoe isn't just in the price tag, the old saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is worth considering. The extra buck might be an investment in greater durability and versatility, especially considering the feedback on the Vapor Glove's durability.

In short, both shoes offer an authentic barefoot experience but at different price-points. Your final decision? It depends on your budget, the importance you place on certain features, and ultimately, your personal preference. As they say, sometimes it’s not about the destination (or the price tag), it’s about the journey (or the barefoot running experince).

About Merrell and Xero Shoes

Merrell is a brand that requires little introduction in the barefoot shoe arena. Merrell's prowess in crafting top-notch minimalist footwear is well-recognized, and they didn't disappoint with the Vapour Glove 6. Widely appreciated for their Vibram® EcoStep outsole and breathable mesh upper, these trailblazing shoes are the epitome of Merrell's commitment to versatile, sustainable design. Their notable use of recycled materials in crafting their Vapor Glove 6 shoes is a testament to their eco-friendly initiatives, which is a huge plus in today's increasingly environment-conscious society. Nevertheless, community feedback suggests that while Merrell's minimalist designs are comfortable, they might sacrifice a bit of durability for the sake of being lightweight.

Unlike Merrell, Xero Shoes might not have the same legacy, but they've created a substantial footprint nonetheless (pun intended). The HFS - their lightweight road running shoe, exemplifies their mission to provide a natural fit, motion, and feel. These highly flexible, user-friendly shoes have earned a space on the feet of people across 94 countries, used for everything from trail running to the type of endurance yoga that even I wouldn't dare attempt. Emphasizing barefoot-like freedom, Xero Shoes have a loyal following who swear by the benefits of their 5mm FeelTrue® rubber soles. Despite this, some users have pointed out minor design flaws such as short shoelaces and sliding insoles. However, it's worth noting that Xero offers a 5,000-mile sole warranty, which speaks volumes about their confidence in the shoe’s longevity.

For more recourse on transitioning to barefoot shoes, you might want to take a look at this article from our barefoot shoe trove at Minimal-list.

Returns & Customer Reviews 💬

Let's jog into the return policies and vibes resonating from the barefoot running community. Running shoes can be a pretty personal choice – as unique as the feet that wear them. So, having a return policy that takes the pressure off is vital. Good news, both of these companies seem to comprehend that.

Merrell provides a return period of 30 days, but only accepts unworn merchandise. So, make sure you test those Vapor Glove 6 shoes indoors before hitting the tracks. Check out their return policy for more details.

On the other hand, Xero takes its customer service a mile further. You can return or exchange the HFS shoe within 45 days as long as it's unworn. You've got a little more room to breathe here, isn't that nice? Get all the necessary info on their return policy page.

Now, on to community feedback. The Vapor Glove 6 has a mixed bag of reviews from the barefoot shoe community. Many runners found them comfortable, but had to replace them frequently due to issues with durability.

The HFS from Xero receives generally positive feedback. It's loved for the comfort it provides right out of the box and it’s versatility across a variety of terrains and activities. However, a few users noted minor issues like short shoelaces and sliding insoles. If you're planning on heavy-duty tasks or long-distance running though, some found the soles a bit thin. Overall, the shoe tends to run smaller and is advised to order a half size larger for a perfect fit.

Final Thoughts ⭐

Ah, decisions, decisions. So here's where we land. If your main game is trail running and you're all about that minimalist life, the Vapour Glove 6 could be your match. But remember, it might need an early substitution if durability starts to falter.

Now, if you're more about that high-intensity gym workout or just a casual cruise around town, I'd look at lacing up with the Xero HFS. You might wanna add a cushioning insole for those hardcore days, though.

At the end of the day, neither one's gonna trip you up. It really comes down to where you're headed, what you're doing, and your personal style. And hey, if all else fails, why not get both and give 'em a spin? Be sure to check out if these shoes are on any sale at our sales page.

Use the barefoot shoe finder to Find your perfect pair of minimalist shoes  👀

Barefoot Shoe Finder  →
#Open in new tab link converter # Xero Shoes Link Tracking