So, if you’ve read my Tough Mudder training posts before, you know that I have been wearing the Vibram (VFF) FiveFingers Treksport shoes for my trail running. I still love my VFF and now I actually have 3 different pairs (KSO, Trek, Treksport). I wear VFF every day. But, there has been a nagging issue for my more aggressive uphill trail running: My smaller toes keep sliding out of the VFF toe pockets when I sprint uphill. Don’t tell me that I need a smaller size, because I can’t go any smaller. My big toe is already uncomfortably scrunched a bit. I know that I could go one size even smaller and then use a heat gun to heat and stretch the big toe. But, I already did that with this pair and I think it would probably destroy an even smaller pair. There is only so much you can stretch that toe!
So, about 3 weeks ago, I bought the Merrell Trail Glove Men’s Barefoot Trail Running Shoe. I read a great review about it on Barefoot Running University from a guy who does ultra-marathons and he loved them. Here is a takeaway quote from his review:
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.
I’ve used the Trail Gloves to run about 30 miles on rocky, muddy, steep trails and even do some jumping into a river and running with them wet. Here are the pros and cons that I have experienced.
- Very lightweight. Feels about the same as my VFF.
- A nice-looking shoe. Not as weird as VFF (if that bothers you).
- More breathable. The mesh toe box breathes really well.
- Drains water well. Again, the mesh toe box helps a lot here.
- More comfortable sockless than the VFF. They’ve done a nice job with the seamless lining.
- Decent traction. Almost as good as the VFF.
- Enough of a sole thickness to protect from rocks on the trail.
- Toes are not separated, so they don’t get caught or stubbed like they do in my VFF.
- Even though my feet aren’t that wide, they feel tighter than my VFF.
- I don’t find them as comfortable as my VFF for longer runs (e.g., some tenderness in my arches).
- On a related note, they feel way too tight when I wear them with socks.
- The laces tend to come untied, which isn’t an issue for my VFF at all (i.e., the VFF have velcro straps).
- With my VFF, I never twist my ankle on rocky trails. With the Trail Glove, they aren’t quite as sensitive to the terrain underfoot. So, I have occasionally turned my ankle when landing on larger rocks.
Some specs on the Trail Glove:
- 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
Men’s Weight: 6.2 ozs / 175.8 gm
You can check out the Merrell Trail Glove for yourself on the Finish Line store.