Merrell Embark Glove GORE TEX

Discussion in 'Product Reviews' started by Product Review, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. Product Review

    Product Review
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    Barefooters

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    Reviewed by: Mattlock
    Date Product Reviewed: 01/01/2012
    Product Type: Footwear


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    Background
    Before “embarking” on my first shoe review of the Merrell Embark Glove GORE-TEX, I’d like to provide a little background on myself. Everything in life is relative so a little perspective on my “world-view” with regards to things running is key for any review to be meaningful to the reader.
    I have been running for 3 years. I am 45 years old, 6’0 and weigh 163lbs. I’ve run 2 marathons and now training for my first ultra, a 50k in Jan, 2012. I’ve been running barefoot/minimalist for 2 of the 3 years. When not barefoot, I run mostly in Zemgear 360s (2.5oz) and Altra Adams (< 5.0 oz) so I’m pretty used to very light footwear and definitely zero drop construction. I consider myself very sensitive to heel build-up. My foot size is 11.5 with a D width.
    Up until very recently, I have not been running on very technical trails except for a few instances and then I wore Merrell Trail Gloves which I absolutely love as a mild trail shoe and all around casual wear.


    Shoe Specs (from the Merrell Website)

    UPPER / LINING
    • Synthetic leather and mesh upper
    • GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort footwear lining protects feet and keeps them dry
    • Merrell Omni-Fit™ lacing System provides a precise, glove-like fit
    • Microfiber footbed treated with Aegis® antimicrobial solution resists odor
    • 4 mm compression molded EVA midsole cushions
    • GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort footwear lining protects feet and keeps them dry

    MIDSOLE / OUTSOLE
    • 1 mm forefoot shock absorption plate maintains forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure
    • 0mm ball to heel drop keeps you connected to your terrain
    • Vibram® Trail glove Sole/Rubber Compound TC-1
    Men’s Weight: 9.2 ozs (1/2 pair)

    Shoe Usage
    Prior to this review I put about 100 running miles on the shoes in 30-50 (F) degree weather and approximately 13 hiking miles in hilly mountainous terrain in 30-50 (F) degree weather. Ground conditions for both were above average technical conditions consisting of roots, rocks, and uneven surfaces.

    Fit
    The Embark fits very well to my foot. The shoe is snug enough in the heel area to prevent back and forth movement and the toe box provides sufficient room for my side D foot to splay. The upper is very comfortable without socks. I wear a 11.5 in the Trail Glove and Embark Glove. The Embark is a little tighter around the foot I believe due to added GORE-TEX construction material.

    Ground Feel
    The trade off to having a winter waterproof shoe is less ground feel. Given the goal of keeping the foot dry and warm in winter conditions I didn’t feel that the less than desirable ground feel was a real detriment. If you set expectations that this shoe has a bigger priority than ground feel you won’t be disappointed. The footplate does a good job of providing protection without giving up too much ground feel.

    Flexibility
    The shoe’s material results in a stiffer feel than the Trail Glove (TG) but given it’s real strength of keeping feet warm and dry, again, I don’t see this as a real criticism. I still enjoy wear this shoe in cold as a casual shoe.

    Traction
    The shoe provided plenty of traction in both my running and hiking experience. Some hiking sources say that trail running shoes are becoming the footwear of choice for serious hikers. Having just returned from a 13 mile hike, I can fully understand why and highly recommend this shoe for hiking as well as winter trail running. A nice feature of the Embark is the raised element in toe section of the sole. It helps with toe-offs in a big way.

    Versatility
    This shoe is best suited for trail running/hiking or casual wear during winter months. It would be too warm for milder seasons and not optimal for road running given the somewhat stiffer characteristics.

    Aesthetics
    Merrell has designed a very attractive shoe that can be worn in casual settings in addition to running and hiking. I rotate the Embark with the Trail Glove with casual wear depending on the climate.

    Conclusion
    I highly recommend the Embark Glove for anyone searching for a zero dropped, solid, weather proof and warm trail shoe. This shoe provides the protection needed to make winter running and hiking enjoyable without significantly reducing the features that minimalist shoe wearers desire in their footwear.

    Matt
     

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