Are you into barefoot running/walking or are looking for a minimalist shoe? The Trail Glove from Merrell just may be ticket to what you are looking for. The Trail Glove is one of many trail running models in the “Glove” series for Men and Women. The shoe is lightweight and has some nice styling. There are more pluses to the shoe as well such it’s all around comfort and high breathability that keeps your feet cool when the temperature rises. However, there are a few things to watch out for with this shoe such as dirt penetrability, shoe smell, price and possible durability issues.
Weighing in at a scant 6.2 ozs / 175.8 gm (1/2 pair) according to the Merrell website, no one can argue that this shoe is a heavyweight. I can attest to this. It’s very nice to have a shoe that you barley notice sometimes.
The general styling of the Trail glove is also pleasing to the eyes. Compared to other minimalist shoes that definitely look more futuristic the Trail Glove stands apart. I know many running purists would say that it has nothing to do with styling and everything to do with fit and feel. This may be true for running only, but I will say that I use my shoes for more walking and around town activities rather than running and it’s nice to have a “normal” looking pair of shoes.
The Trail Glove is definitely comfortable. When I first started wearing them I was a little concerned about the arch area of the shoes. They seemed a little tight and I do have a slightly wide foot so I was starting to think this shoe was for medium to narrow feet only, but was pleasantly surprised after about a day of wear on them this issue seemed to go away. As with most minimalist shoes, there really isn’t an insole which gave great feel of the ground and the Vibram sole gives some great traction. The sole that these shoes offer is one of the best shoe inserts which is a big reason for their popularity. These soles add more comfort to your shoe that will ultimately help you with running and during workouts. I’ve worn the shoes in wet and dry conditions and haven’t had any kind of traction problems.
Breathability is definitely not an issue. I worn these shoe sin temps upwards of 100oF and humid. My feet stayed quite comfortable. The air mesh fabric does a great job at maintaining comfort level.
The air mesh fabric may do a good job at maintaining comfort, but it also does a pretty good job at letting fine sand and particles into the shoe as well. The penetrability of the fabric can be an issue of concern. This winds up not being too comfortable. I wore these shoes in a sand filled playground with my kids and wounds up doing serious shaking out of the shoes. It’s happened on other occasions as well far less sandy areas. Also It seems that When I wear shorts sand and gravel get trapped behind the heal in the shoes. I’ve discovered that without pants covering the back of the shoes that sand and gravel flings off the sole of one of the shoes and finds its way to the inside of the other shoe.
As with most footwear that is worn barefoot, the smells that can be generated can be far less than desirable. The shoes are treated with silver ions to deter bacteria, but this can only last for so long. I’ve found a couple of solutions to the problem. You can either the baking soda/foot deodorizer spray route or you can start wearing thin socks. I eventually went the sock route and haven’t lost any significant trail feel.
The Trail Glove retails for $110.00 USD and I’m not sure why exactly it costs this much. After all minimalist shoes contain a lot fewer material than traditional shoes for the same price. I suppose research and development costs a decent amount of money, but I’m just not seeing it here.
Finally, the durability of the shoe is somewhat in question here. I’ve owned this shoe for about two months now and the back yellow pull tab has already broken on one end. Not to pleasing since I use it every time I put the shoes on. Otherwise the shoes have held up, but I am a bit more cautious.
Despite the Trail Glove’s drawbacks I’m overall happy with shoes weight, styling, comfort and breathability. It’s dirt penetrability, smell, price and possible long term durability issues give me some reservations. I think there are some trade-off’s associated with minimalist shoes and the drawbacks stated previously may just be those trade-off’s.