Anyone who read my recent blog about barefoot running will know that my shoe of choice over the past few months has been the Merrell Trail Glove. The Trail Glove is, as its name suggests, a lightweight, snug fitting shoe designed for pounding through forests and parks – and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
You expect a barefoot running shoe to be light and flexible, but the Trail Glove really does excel in both areas. When you put these shoes on for the first time you’ll be amazed at how light they feel, making you want to head straight for the trails.
The “glove” moniker becomes clearly apparent when you lace the Trail Gloves up. Pulling the laces tight literally moulds the shoe around your foot, making it feel like an extension of yourself – it’s a million miles away from a traditional running shoe with a thick, cushioned sole.
That extensive flexibility also makes itself known the minute you start to flex your foot – it’s genuinely uncanny how this shoe allows complete freedom of movement. That means that whatever your style of barefoot running, wherever your perfect strike point may be, the Trail Glove will adapt.
As you’d expect from a shoe marketed for barefoot running, there’s no drop between the heel and toe section, which, coupled with that incredible flexibility, makes keeping your form in check easy.
The flexibility isn’t really surprising when you realise that the sole is manufactured by Vibram, the company behind the FiveFingers barefoot shoes. But while FiveFingers shoes mould around each of your toes and require sockless running, the Trail Glove offers a compromise of a more traditional look and feel, coupled with the Vibram sole technology.
The sole is also more rugged than what you’ll find on FiveFingers shoes, making it clear that the Trail Glove is intent on living up to its name. Merrell has also implemented a protection plate in the front of the shoe, to try and reduce the chance of pain and injury when landing on sharp stones or roots.
While on the subject of protection, there’s also a hard toe bumper wrapping around the front of the shoe, which should help avoid any toe damage if you happen to stub your foot on anything sticking out of the trail. The rest of the upper, however, is super-soft and incredibly breathable. No matter how far I run wearing the Trail Gloves, my feet never become sweaty, and I’ve not once encountered a blister.
Last year I moved house, and now when I step out of my door I find myself at the start of a 150-acre country park – I really do have trails right on my doorstep. I can therefore be found pounding my local trails whenever I have the time to do so, and have been giving the Trail Gloves a very thorough workout.
My local trails are quite sandy and loose, but the relatively rugged soles on the Trail Gloves cope admirably, inspiring confidence on climbs and more importantly, on steep descents. That thin, flexible sole ensures that you can feel exactly what’s going on under your feet, allowing for split second adjustments should your foot start to slide, or the surface start to give way.
But, being able to feel every aspect of the trail isn’t always a good thing – landing on a sharp stone or root is painful to say the least, and can result in a bruised foot. Over time, though, a couple of things happen. First, you start to be far more careful with your running line in order to avoid any nasty surprises. And second, your feet just become tougher – I’m not saying that it doesn’t hurt when you land on a sharp stone, but as time goes on, it becomes less painful.
Although the Trail Gove has obviously been designed for trail running, I’ve been using it for all my running activity, whether on the road or on a treadmill. The Trail Gloves performed equally well regardless of environment, and although I was a little nervous about running on the road with no cushioning, I wouldn’t go back now.
The Merrell Trail Gloves will set you back £90, which is pretty reasonable when you consider the design and technology that has gone into them. And if you’re worried about the durability of such a lightweight shoe, don’t be – I’ve been running regularly in the Trail Gloves for the past six months, and they’re showing very few signs of wear and tear.
Whether you’re a seasoned barefoot runner or just considering the switch, the Merrell Trail Gloves are definitely with considering. These lightweight, flexible shoes provide masses of feedback on the trails, and really do fit like a glove.
- Incredibly light and flexible
- Fits like a second skin
- Rugged sole provides great grip and traction
- You can feel the trail beneath your feet
- Just as effective on the road or in the gym
- Breathable upper stops feet sweating
- Reasonable price
- Sharp stones and roots can be painful
Supplier: Cotswold Outdoor