Merrell recently introduced to the Philippine market their Barefoot Collection and I was lucky enough to win a pair of their segment for trails, the Trail Glove. At first glance it looks like a regular pair, but given its name with a matching Vibram name on its sole, it had got to be much more than that! And so the trails of Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna became the testing ground for this pair’s review.
Merrell Trail Glove is arguably one of the better looking trail shoes around—even the ladies like its look. To the untrained eye it merely looked like a regular pair of shoes, except when you flip it over and see the Vibram mark on its soles—looks like a mark of adventure! Other than that no one can really tell it’s a minimalist trail running shoe.
At first fitting you’d realize that the “Glove” in its name isn’t just for namesake: it really does fit like a glove! You feel its snug fit, particularly in the arch area, without feeling restricted, but at the same time are a bit wide at the front which could be good news for those whom are prone to dead toenails.
The Trail Glove has thicker soles than non-trail minimalist shoes that’s why it does not feel that minimalist, particularly when walking it around the pavement of the store. It does however make a lot of sense when you use it on trails (more on this later). With that you’ll have a hint that this shoe isn’t for the pavement but is really made for trails. And as far as weight is concerned, it’s one of the lightest minimalist shoes around at 6.2oz (175.8g).
Quick Road Test
As much as I would’ve loved to run on a trail to test it outright, I had to settle to testing it on regular roads during one of my long runs. For this initial quick test I picked a route with mixed asphalt and concrete. Being a minimalist shoe, I confidently wore it without socks on, but to my dismay it had scraped off some skin on my right toe after registering only about 3.5K. It would’ve been a great ride except for that minor mishap, but that’s something that socks could avoid. Lesson: don’t wear it without socks!
Trail Test: Valley Trail Challenge 50K
It took a while before I was able to test this shoe on trails as I looked for a fitting race to test it. On pavement, it’s a regular shoe, and that’s not exactly why people would buy these pair. And so when the first trail running event came, it had to be the place for my Trail Glove to stage its debut, regardless if it’s an ultramarathon distance!
They said never try on new pairs on races, but having an idea on how this shoe performs, I was confident, but I had a fallback of another reliable pair, and I wore socks!
The trails of Nuvali were hardly technical nor that challenging (except for the race’s 50K distance) but it does present a variety of terrain like concrete, asphalt, all sorts of dirt and mud, inclines and declines, sand, gravel, etc. so it was a perfect place to test a shoe, which at that point remained a stranger.
The race started on a beach volleyball area (sands) quickly followed by graveled dirt roads. When we were running onto those gravels I quickly realized that the Trail Glove’s soles were just right for the trails—it was thick enough to protect our feet from the sharp edges of the rocks and gravels on trails, while at the same time thin enough for you to feel the ground—just as expected from minimalist shoes. If it had been thicker it would lose the “minimalist” feeling, and had it been thinner it would’ve made for a more painful ride.
Over on the traction side, the Vibram logo assures you of a good grip as I forgot that I was running on different terrain—regardless if it was concrete or mud, dry or wet, the Trail Glove’s grip remained consistently good so you don’t need any extra effort when tackling those steep uphills or downhills. It does feel better though off road.
As per comfort, the Trail Glove is one of the most comfortable of any pair I’ve ever worn. It fits snugly so you don’t need to worry about it being left in the mud while at the same time the wide front allows my toes to move around without hitting any sides of the shoes, allowing me to run as I please. Its upper is also made of mesh so it’s “breathable.” I guess the only thing that would prevent me from wearing it regularly is that I can’t put it on and off just as easily as other shoe because of its snug fit, but in cases you don’t need to do that (like in a race) it’s not much of an issue.
Merrell Trail Glove
Upper / Lining
- 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
Midsole / Outsole
- 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
|Runner’s World Best Debut
Merrell Barefoot (Trail and Pace Glove) named Best Debut
by Runner’s World Magazine, April 2011.
Merrell Trail Glove is an excellent trail running shoe. It is lightweight, comfortable, provides good grip and protection, and is relatively cheap compared with competition. It looks great and it comes in various color options. Take note though that it is still a minimalist shoe so if your feet needs extra support, you may want to look elsewhere.
Overall, I highly recommend this shoe as it delivered me from my more than 50K of trails without any serious problems. (I did have a blister but it was because of being soaked in the water, not because of the shoe.) With that, I could say I’m looking forward to more adventures with my Trail Glove, and congratulations Merrell for doing a great job with this shoe!