Merrell has recently launched their new series of minimalist active and casual shoes called their Barefoot collection. I was fortunate enough to receive a pair of their off-road minimalist shoes called the Merrell Trail Glove.
I have had the Trail Gloves for about a month of periodic wear that has consisted of a full day of trail walking and a variety of shorter walks both in the dirt and on pavement. I haven’t done any running in them yet but plan to start gradually implementing short runs in them as a tool for general strengthening. I will say I already really, really enjoy walking in them off the pavement.
Lets keep this simple, we are talking about a minimalist trail shoe! 🙂
- Light – Well duh! 6.2 ounces.
- Flat – Zero mm drop.
- Feedback rich – 4 mm of midsole cushioning. Plenty of cross-talk between ground and feet.
- Feathery Forefoot Protection – 1 mm flexible forefoot absorption plate.
Bonus feature – foldable!
Minimal Trail Shoe – Significant Detail
For a simple shoe, there are quite a few details worth mentioning.
Snug Heel Through Midfoot Yet Wide Toebox
Sliding your feet into the Trail Glove and lacing them up, it becomes immediately apparent that the heel and midfoot areas of the foot…cough, cough…fit like a glove. 😉 I wouldn’t call it restrictive, simply comfortably snug.
Instead of a taper along the forefoot little piggies area, the toebox remains moderately wide to allow them little guys to dance around a bit if they want to.
You can check out the toebox difference as compared to a pair of cross country flats (Saucony Killkenny XC 3) I often wear when walking through the isles of Whole Foods.
Friction Free Heel Wrap
The thin and flexible faux leather lining around the heel/ankle provides a snug and comfortable fit with a sockless foot or if wearing a thin piece of foot clothing. No seams or stitching to dig into the skin.
The lacing system attaches to the shoe tongue which prevents a few undesirable words from leaving your mouth because the tongue has shifted on you. It is going nowhere once laced up.
A Dash of Medial Support
The Trail Glove does provide a bit of medial (inside) support as the below picture highlights. I wouldn’t call it a huge amount but when compared against my cross country racing flat, it was noticeable.
Tread That Purrs and Bites
The Vibram outsole (no big surprise here), has a low-profile tread design until you get near the point of your little piggies then the tread becomes more defined and aggressive. I can almost hear it growl. 😉 I could see these fangs being useful for climbing hills and steep grades.
Never Leave a Toe Behind – Piggy Protection
Suprisingly enough these minimalist trail shoes provide a fair amount of smashed piggy protection. The rubber outsole wraps up the front of the shoe and provides a fair amount of cuss protection. I am not saying INOV-8 Flyroc 310 protection but a mini-me version of it.
My Experience…So Far
First sizing…I wore a size 12 in the Trail Glove. Fit perfectly for me. I normally wear between a 11.5 and 12, although I have been going with size 12 more consistently.
I normally run in 8-10 ounce trail shoes that have 6-10 mm of heel-to-forefoot drop so I haven’t gone all run crazy with these shoes. As initially mentioned, I haven’t ran in them at all yet but have enjoyed the heck out of them walking on trails and grassy surfaces. After my Bandera 25 km adventure run in January, I wore the Trail Gloves for eight hours at the park while walking along the trail, cheering on other runners. Loved the simple barefoot-ish feel.
My feet are definitely not toughened to wearing shoes without socks so I noticed one potential hot-spot area at the base of the tongue (shoe not mouth), around the forefoot area. The extra tongue fabric would rub against the top of my foot just prior to the start of my little piggies. This would occur when the shoe is flexed in the forefoot area. If I wore a thin pair of socks, I had no issues.
With respect to cushioning, I would consider it…well…minimal. Comparing to my cross country flats, the Trail Gloves definitely provide more ground feedback.
As a running tool or to enjoy some family time at the park, the Trail Gloves are both functional and a heck of a lot of fun in an off-road environment. I look forward to enjoying many more miles of walking, hiking, and eventually a bit of running.
Back to School! – Merrell Style
To assist with the transition to what will be significantly less shoe than most people wear on a daily basis, Merrell has released an initial set (more to come) of videos with minimalist runner Jason Robillard and personal trainer Walt Reynolds. The videos are designed to help with the transition to less shoe and will include foot strengthening exercises, how much – how often, and running form tips.
You can purchase the Merrell Trail Glove or Pace Glove (womens) at Running Warehouse (Shoes, Packs, Clothes, Lights, and more…plus 2-day free shipping!).
Be active – Feel the buzz!
David – EnduranceBuzz.com
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Posted on 08 Feb 2011
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