The Shoe to replace the Vibram Five Fingers
As a minimalist runner I must admit I have been awaiting the Merrell Trail Glove release for quite some time. Not being one to buy shoes without trying them on first, I went to REI the only retailer I could find that I was sure would be carrying the Trail Glove. Apparently size 10 is very popular in the bay area. I was there the day after the release and REI was sold out of size ten. So I tried on the 9 1/2 and the 10 1/2, after about 20 laps around the store and a 15 minutes in the buyers dilemma as to whether or not I should just settle for the 10 1/2, I eventually opted to return home and order size ten directly from Merrell.com. This was a postponed my excitement for another week as I anxiously awaited the arrival of my shiny new Merrell Trail Gloves. This was ultimately the right decision, when I tried on the size ten they fit like a glove, pun intended.
I immediately began to compare the trail glove to the minimalist shoe checklist to ensure I had made the best decision.
- No raised heel
- Wide Toe Box
- Thin Flexible out sole
- No unnecessary support features
No Raised Heel
The Merrell Trail Glove performs excellently in this area. It is truly a Zero-drop shoe. This means that the heal to toe differential is 0mm, as opposed to the traditional 12 mm offered by most traditional running shoes. this is number one because I feel this is the most important quality to look for in a minimalist shoe. Grade A+
Wide Toe box
I don't have an unusually wide foot, so this toe box was very generously sized. this is important as a wide toe box will allow the toes to naturally splay upon striking the ground. The toe box was easily as wide as my old school traditional running shoes, and much wider than most racing flats I have encountered on the market. Grade A+
Thin Flexible sole
According to Merrell the sole is made from 4 mm Vibram material. With the exception a 1mm forefoot plate to more evenly distribute weight, there is really nothing else separating the foot from the ground. In my opinion this is exactly the right amout of protection. Now that I have had the oportunity to try them out on some trails, the trail glove makes it easy to travel over sharp rocks and sticks and acorns and poop, protecting the foot without actually altering running stride. Grade A+
No unnecessary support features
Upon trying on the Merrel Trail Glove for the first time I did notice that they hug the arch of my foot. this concerned me at first, however, the material hugging the arch is quite flexible providing protection from debris more so than unnecessary arch support. The upper is cut well below the ankle allowing the ankle full range of motion with no interference. Grade A
The men's Merrell Trail Glove weighs in at about 6.2 ounces. this is about half the weight of my last pair of traditional trainers, but about twice the weight of my Huaraches. I have seen many shoes that are much more lightweight, however, while examining the shoe, I couldn't devise any ways of making the shoe lighter, while maintaining full functionality. Grade B+
Very, I have only had these shoe for a week and the complements keep coming in. I did of course buy the Amazon colored Trail Glove directly from the Merrell website, (a color not available at REI.) Grade A
At 110 dollars the Merrell Trail Glove is the second most expensive pair of shoes I have ever purchased. I must admit the price mad me quite hesitant, however, I have never not gotten my money worth out of a running shoe. I hope as more truely minimalist shoes become available the price will come down to a more reasonable price, still at $110 they are only $20 more than Vibram FiveFingers, and come in $50 less than Terra Plana Evo, and in my opinion the Merrell Trail Glove is a much better shoe than either of those brands. Grade B-
Upon receiving my Merrell Trail Gloves in the mail I canceled my 25 mile tempo run and opted for a hilly muddy 12 mile trail run, ( I never like to try to go to far in my first run in new shoes lest I end up 15 miles out and hobbling home covered in blisters.) Instantly these shoes where amazing, they truly had a barefoot feel. One thing that I instantly noticed is the traction. The traction of the Merrell trail glove is far better than any other minimalist shoe I have ever worn. Along with the shoe not sliding around on the muddy trails, even when wet, my foot didn't slide around in the shoe, a common problem with my huaraches.
These shoes are designed to be worn with no socks. This fact combined with all synthetic materials makes a shoe that does not hold water. In other words, no heavy shoes from running through a puddle.
The only drawback that I have found is that somewhere in the inside of the upper lining of the my left shoe there was a seam that rubbed on my big toe. I didn't notice this until about mile 6, but by mile 10 it was very evident that something was amiss. When I finally removed my shoe, the rubbing had worn through the skin leaving a small hole on the top of my foot.
This is an easy fix with a little tape, of some scissors to give the offender a trim, however, I am in the class that believe you should not have to fix brand new $110 dollar shoes.
So far I only have 100 miles on these shoes, and so far they are holding together excellently, but before I declare these shoes durable they will need to see at least another 400 miles. I will try to follow up when they reach that point.
All in all this is the best shoe I have ever worn. It has all the features needed to make it a great minimalist shoe. But this greatness comes at a price, $110 if you want to put a price tag on it. The only problem is the rubbing on my left toe, I took care of this easily, but hopefully this is something that Merrell will take care of before releasing the Merrell Trail Glove 2.0. Hopefully this is the only thing the change on the Merrel Trail Glove 2.0, unless they can find a magical more light weight material.
Have you tried the Merrell Trail Glove? What did you think? Leave your comments below.