Barefoot Runner Review: Merrell’s Trail Glove

In the past few weeks, I’ve been testing out Merrell’s new barefoot runner, the Training Glove. This review is not only a review of the shoe itself, but a conversation on my gateway into the newer style of running that’s sweeping the masses: barefoot running.

No, I’m not an expert on the subject. That’s why the previous paragraph is sort of a disclaimer. This disclaimer can be one of positivity for you though, as many of you, like me, are new to this activity and really want to see outside the box of technicalities and core shoe construction specifics. I can get that for you and will further into this post, but for now let’s concentrate on the overall comfort, sustainability, and behavior of the Trail Glove.

One of my first impressions was the look of the shoe. In contrast and even though Vibram worked with Merrell in designing the Trail Glove, it does not boast the “FiveFingers” as other Vibram models do. No, there are no toe outlets to fit your ten toes into. Instead the Trail Glove holds a wider feeling forefront with plenty of wiggle room, circulation, and splay.

Even when walking or running, the top front layer of the shoe allows for air and wind circulation. You really do feel as though you’re naked in certain aspects.

The sole is surprisingly grippy and padded for being so light. I say the word shoe here for lack of a better word because I have never had something on my foot so well balanced and proportional to so many aspects of my day. I’ve continually been wearing the Trail Glove, not only to the gym, but in everyday activities, like going to work and running errands. It’s to the point now that even my older thinner and regular soled shoes feel stiff and beefy on my feet. You can even coil it into a ball and let it pop back to shape (something I’ve been annoying everyone in my life with daily).

But there’s a definite adjustment period to this style of shoe, one that I’m still mastering daily. The first time running with the Trail Glove I lasted about 13 minutes. The second? About the same. The third? A few minutes more. But listen, it’s not about the length of my run for me right now, instead, it’s about redeveloping my lower leg muscles in order to get them strong enough to handle those lengthier runs when I’m ready.

Yes, you will be soar and struggle a little at first with mentally adjusting to the front arch placement of barefoot running, but I can see myself already getting stronger. It’s a completely new way of running and I’m more than happy with my first choice being the Trail Glove.

Now on to the Specifics

Below is an excerpt from Barefoot Running University on the Trail Glove. They have more experience with other similarly styled shoes and can give you a bit more insight into the functionality.

The Trail Glove is the best true minimalist trail shoe I have ever tested.  If there is a shoe that will become the “toeless” Five Fingers, this is it.  I commend Merrell for making a great shoe, and especially congratulate them for having the courage to make a zero-drop shoe.  I believe this shoe is a game-changer for the rest of the shoe industry.  It is direct evidence that the voices of barefoot runners are finally being heard.  Merrell hit a home run with this shoe, and I would expect the other manufacturers to use this as a gold standard to emulate.

If I were to deliver a single message to Merrell’s design team, it would be simple- DO NOT CHANGE THIS SHOE! The functional characteristics of this shoe are as close to perfect as a shoe can probably get.  I can live with the not-too-exciting appearance.  If I received word Merrell were planning on changing any aspect of this shoe, I would immediately buy 10 pairs.  That would likely carry me through my prime running years.

Trail Glove Features

  • Microfiber and breathable air mesh upper
  • Merrell Omni-Fit™ lacing system secured with welded TPU provides a precise, glove-like fit
  • Fused rubber toe bumper provides ultimate durability
  • Synthetic leather rear foot sling provides stability
  • Flexible plate in the forefoot protects the foot from stone bruises
  • Non-removable microfiber footbed treated with Aegis antimicrobial solution resists odor
  • 4mm compression molded EVA midsole cushions
  • 1mm 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
  • Wash as needed in cold water, gentle cycle and air dry
  • Vibram Trail Glove Sole/ Rubber Compound TC-1
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