As the standard introduction, I will periodically be posting these reviews of various products and brands.
At the end of the summer I will publish all of the reviews in a PDF and make that available to anyone who wishes.
Note that I am reviewing products that I have done a good bit of research on First before including them in my list of products to review so I am anticipating most all of the products will receive favorable feedback (these are not 'blind' tests).
Also, all reviews will also be posted on my facebook page
MERRELL TRAIL GLOVE FROM PLANET SHOES
I was fairly eager to get my hands on a pair of these Merrells as I was very excited about the possibility of another great minimalist running shoe entering the market. They looked great (aesthetically speaking), seemed to have the right features in mind (zero drop, wide toe-box, 4mm sole,), they were featuring Vibram soles, and I loved that they partnered with Jason Robillard to promote, and educate, minimalist/barefoot running.
I was extremely fortunate to receive a pair from Planet Shoes to put through the paces.
First off, let me say that Merrell did not disappoint! They, unlike so many other would-be ‘minimalist’ shoe companies out there, are listening to minimalist minded people, paying attention to what’s important, enlisting the help of actual barefooters, and have produced an excellent shoe.
The particular flavor I am reviewing is the Trail Glove (I have not tried any of the others – but I will say that the pure glove made me a little nervous: when I held them in my hand they did not seem to be nearly as flexible and just didn’t…. ‘feel’ right). First impressions were great. The shoe looks great, and being in my favorite color scheme of red and black didn’t hurt either!
As I’ve said before, as a I am a minimalist shoe runner, the general rule has been if they’re ugly, they just might be good, but if they actually resemble a shoe, forget about it – these are a step in the direction to reversing that stigma by offering a great shoe that looks like any other shoe out on the market
• The Vibram sole is just what you would expect: bullet proof yet surprisingly flexible.
• Though I haven’t had the shoes for long, being that the sole is Vibram, I feel confident that the shoes will wear out long before the soles do!
• I have heard some people complain about the lace design, stating that they make the shoe too stiff. I actually didn’t mind the lacing at all and actually found the laces to be largely just for looks anyway: the shoe is made in such a way that you could actually pull the laces out and still run just fine in them. As such, I simply laced mine extremely loose and had no problems.
• The upper is very breathable and did not “sweat my feet” – which was both good and impressive as when I ran in them for the first time last week the heat index was 104 degrees!
• The Trail Glove does not have a removable insole (which I like)
• The Trail Glove has a 4mm midsole and a 1mm “forefoot shock absorption plate”. 4mm (and 5mm on the forefoot) is certainly a great thickness for a minimalist shoe and ground feel was good, however they do not provide as much ground feel as the original Sprint/KSO VFFs (there ground feel is similar to the new VFF Bikilas). Here’s a point I feel is worth making: the ground feel is still exists, but it is marginal. I feel this is important to mention because many people reading this will want to feel every pebble under their foot, and while this shoe allows about as good a ground feel as one can have in a shoe, it is not barefoot. However, there are those out there who simply do not want to feel every pebble and crack underfoot, and for them, the somewhat marginal ground feel will be a plus. I, personally, thought it was a good balance. I could feel the cracks in the sidewalk, feel rocks underfoot, but they were differences in terrain, but did not provide any sharp responses in my feet.
• The Merrell Trail Glove is a very light shoe, weighing in at about 6oz! To give some reference here, the Fivefingers range from around 5.6 oz to 6oz a piece, while an Asics Kayano tips the scales at just under 12 oz a Piece.
• Another + for this shoe is the fit. I like that it has a narrow “snug” heel and then it widens as it goes forward. The toe box is wide (all the way out to the end of the toes-not just where the toes join the foot) and allow for good toe splay. That being said, I had read many reviews talking about the “ridiculously huge ginormous 8ft ultra mega wide toebox!” and I found that simply not to be the case. They are wide enough to provide ample toe splay for an average runner, but are narrower then the VIVOBarefoot line of shoes. For me, the combination of narrow heel and wider toe box provided a perfect fit (for my size 8.5 foot).
• Also on the fit, I feel that they ran very close to “true-to-size” in length (if anything they may run ¼ of a size long).
Thank you again to Planet Shoes for the opportunity to review the shoes and for your support of The Barefoot Runners Society and minimalist runners.