After the first snow of the season this winter, I decided it would be a great final test for my Merrell Trail Gloves before I was ready to write my thoughts and impressions. I wanted to get a feel for these shoes in gravel, dirt, mud, snow, asphalt and anything else I could try out to make sure I really had a feel for how they perform.
I have heard a lot about Merrell's shoes, they are a very big name in the realm of running and seem to know a lot about what is wanted in a good barefoot shoe (is that an oxymoron?). These were my first real pair of minimalist shoes that I ever owned (not counting huaraches) so I was unsure of what to really expect and what to compare them to since, to this point, I had only run in traditional running shoes, barefoot and huaraches. Part of why this review has taken such a long time to write is because I wanted to make sure I tried out a few different shoes before I wrote anything to be sure and give good accurate feedback.
Initially I was a little apprehensive about running too far in these because I was so used to barefoot running at the time. I didn't want to feel constricted and protected and miss the feeling of the air between my toes. I didn't like how much it felt like a shoe and usually wouldn't make it more than a couple of miles before they were in my hands and I was yet again barefoot. I later learned that what I was feeling were normal barefoot withdrawals. No shoe will ever give you the feeling of being barefoot, so I needed to get rid of that idea and get used to wearing something on my feet once in a while and once I did, I was opened to a new world of running. I fell in love.
One of the things I really look for in a good barefoot/minimalist shoe is flexibility. I want my foot to be able to flex and move and I don't want to feel like it is held in place. I also want my toes to be able to wiggle around and move. As you can see, the Trail Glove passed the flexibility test with flying colors. I can practically tie the shoe in a knot. The shoe offers a very wide toe box as well that is like nothing I have ever had before in a shoe. I have a fairly wide foot and for my whole life have always felt like my toes couldn't move around as much as I have wanted them to. Until now. The wide toe box allows your toes to work while you run to grip the ground and work together propelling you forward. That is one MAJOR advantage that these have over anything else I have tried so far. I would venture to say that my toes felt almost as free as they do in my Fivefingers.
I was so impressed with how they held up. I still felt very stable and remarkably I stayed almost completely dry! Once the snow started to come up to my ankles I turned around and headed back home.
All in all, I am very happy with my Merrell Trail Gloves. Besides being extremely comfortable, durable, flexible and having great traction, they aren't a bad looking shoe either (in my opinion). If you want a good trail shoe, this could be exactly what you are looking for. If you are looking for a road shoe, I would check out the Merrell Road Glove or other alternatives only because the treading and other things will be more geared towards the asphalt rather than the rocky terrain.