Because why not: Let’s talk about Merrell Trail Gloves

posted in Running on Aug 23, 2011

Sometimes you have to work at a place that won’t let you wear your great VFFs but will still let you wear sneakers. You are upset at having to leave your favorite shoes at home, and for a couple of days you go in to work wearing some old basketball shoes from the Dark Ages you find in your closet. They feel like crap, and your once liberated feet can’t handle being suffocated like that. What is one to do when they want a minimalist feel but need it in a more traditional shoe? These Merrell Trail Gloves are an option.

First, some stats from the product page:

• 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 (1/2 pair)

All of that business is fine and dandy, but what about how they feel? Pretty good, to be sure. What isn’t listed above is the fact that these shoes have a super-wide toe box. You have the ability to stretch and flex quite a bit, and coming from VFFs that makes me happy. The constriction you would otherwise feel in regular shoes is much less of a factor here, at least in the upper portion of the shoe. From the midsole back, you have the option, of course, of tightening the hell out the shoe as you please, so that’s up to you. I have found that there is a bit more arch support than you might feel in a VFF due to the way the sole is made, but it’s not unlike a pair of Bikila LS’s, though, which have a similar feel.

Sizing, at least for me, was larger than what I have been used to with other minimalist shoes. I had to get one size smaller than what I would normally, so keep that in mind if you are ordering online. I think the large toe box has something to do about that because you have a bit of room to wiggle around. When the size is too big with these, you absolutely know because it feels like you are wearing clown shoes.

As a running shoe, it works, but I wouldn’t say it’s any better or worse than any other shoe I have run in. Coming from VFF/barefoot running, the relatively flat toe box feels weird, but I can assure you that’s probably just me in that criticism. I simply prefer my toes be able to wrap around stuffs. The sole is made by Vibram and has the same amount of flexibility as Bikilas of the same thickness, but I prefer the separated toes in the end. I will say, though, that I would probably prefer these for a weekend on the trails because of the extra grippies on the bottom in addition to being able to wear big, thick socks if need be.

From an every day standpoint, these are great shoes. They are comfy, have the same perks as VFFs for the most part, and you get the overall “barefoot” shoe feel without having to answer questions about them every five minutes at the grocery store. For a lot of people that will be worth the price of admission alone.

Speaking of the price, these puppies will set you back $110. And while that will seem like a lot, it’s just as much as what everyone else is charging for minimalist shoes right now. They have been great shoes so far for me, and if you are on the fence about VFFs because they are “too ugly” but still want to try this minimalist thing, then these are a great start.

For more info about Merrell’s barefoot stuffs, check out this site.