Testing the Merrell Trail Glove Barefoot Shoe for Tough Mudder

Merrell Trail Glove ShoeSo, 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.


  1. […] So, I bought a pair of Merrell Trail Glove minimalist shoes and I am pretty happy with them (see my earlier review). They’re light, drain water well, and have good traction in mud. I did find that smaller […]

  2. Scott L Kuehn on September 24, 2011 at 4:22 am

    great article, Ive been an avid runner for about 4 yrs know and just recently (2 months) got into barefoot running, i was pretty skeptical at first, took me awhile to get the nerve to spend the money on a pair. i am very happy with the feel of these shoes (Merrel TG) no knee pain, no ankle pain like i had with my so called $120 running shoes. now im doing the tough mudder Virginia and really wanted to use the TG but wasn’t sure if i would ruin them. but i think im going to give it a try. thanks for the great article.

  3. Anonymous on September 24, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Cool! Good luck with the Tough Mudder. It’s a lot of fun. Hope the TGs work out well for you.

  4. tmg on March 16, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Look pretty promising. I’ve been using the New Balance Minimus. If I get another pair of shoes I’ll give these a shot.

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