Merrell Trail Glove 2 Review

Steve AnkneyGeneral, Reviews, Shoe Reviews1 Comment

Merrell Trail Glove 2 5

Before I start my review of the Trail Glove 2, I want to mention that when we are testing a shoe, we typically try to log between 30 and 50 miles on a pair before we write up our thoughts on it. I also want to admit that this has not been the case with the Trail Glove 2. In truth, these shoes have now been my close companions for over 100 miles of roads and trails. The only other shoe to get such a treatment was my Skora Forms. The problem (if you can call it that) is that I enjoy running in the Trail Glove 2s so much that I’ve had trouble taking them off to make time for my other shoes!  Of course, this is all for good reason. The Trail Glove 2 is a great shoe and has got to be one of the most talked about models in the minimalist market. Although I admit to not having any solid numbers or figures to back my previous statement up, I will note that nearly every minimalist runner I speak to who mentions the shoes they are running in brings up the Trail Glove (or Road Glove), either because they already own a pair or are interested in owning a pair, which clearly speaks to its popularity and quality. With that said, let’s start the review!


Specifications

Brand: Merrell

Name: Trail Glove 2

Color Options: Men Only – Online Lime (pictured), Black/Silver, Black/Tanga, Crimson, Zest/Skylab

Weight: 7 oz per shoe (14 oz per pair)

Drop: Omm

Stack Height: 9.5MM

Price: $100


Performance

In terms of performance, the Trail Glove is almost difficult for me to write about, because so much is done right that I have little to criticize or say beyond “It’s great!” (turns out bad reviews are often the easier ones to write!).  I’ll admit that I’m not the world’s most avid trail runner, but I did my best when running this “spring” (which, in Wisconsin, really just seems like a short transition before our blistering hot summer) to hit the puddles, run through the mud, and kick up some dust on the dirt trails at the local arboretum. What I found was that I had great traction, along with a ton of control, even when deep in the mud.  My foot was kept in place so well inside the shoe that I rarely encountered any slippage.  This is great for running on a course that involves going up and down a lot of hills, when slippage can lead to blisters on the bottom of the foot and the ends or sides of the toes.  The Trail Glove 2 is able to prevent this slippage because of the glove-like fit that develops the more you wear them.  I’ll get into this more later, but for the sake of performance, it is important to understand that these shoes offer a great natural running experience that allows for a natural stride, while keeping a snug, anatomical fit. They perform well in every environment (including concrete) and have great traction, although, if you’re like me, they might make you too confident in icy conditions (my poor iPhone paid the price for that mistake).

Aesthetics

Although simple, and very similar to many of its brothers in the M-Connect line, the Trail Glove 2 has an attitude all its own. The green and black go well together and provide a neutral look that goes well with both casual wear and almost any running color scheme you can come up with (unless you’re suffering from what I like to call the red and black disease of men’s running clothes).

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Comfort/Barefoot Feel

The lightweight nature and small amount of of cushioning makes this shoe all-around perfect for someone looking for a middle-of-the-road minimalist running shoe. One day I plan to add a rating system for minimalist shoes to our site to explain what I mean by middle-of-the-road, but, for now, you can picture it like this: Imagine Sockwas, RunAmocs, and Invisible Shoes are on one end of a scale representing the “Ultra-Minimalist or Barefoot” end member, while SKORA, Brooks, and Nike Frees are on the other end, representing the “Transitional, Mid-foot, cushioned minimalist shoes.”   The Trail Glove 2 would land pretty much in the dead center of these two categories, and be on par with shoes like the New Balance M10s or Vibram FFS Spyridon. It follows then, that the Trail Glove 2s are essentially middle-of-the-road when it comes to ground feel. Their sole enables you to easily distinguish things like cracks in the road, and allows you to feel when the ground below your feet is shifting because of loose gravel, sand, mud, or snow, but these aren’t the types of shoes that will make you cringe when you come across a stretch of gravel.

My main complaint with the Trail Glove 2 is that, like most of the M-Connect line from Merrell, the arch contouring takes some time to get used to. Although it is not really “arch support”, the contouring was still a major turn off for me when I put them on for the first time, because it is so dramatic.  The idea is that you will wear the arch down until it is fitted to your foot, but those first few runs can be pretty uncomfortable. That said, once you get past this minor annoyance, the real magic begins to happen.  As the arch contouring breaks down, the shoe begins to take on the “glove-like” feel I mentioned earlier.  My only other complaint is in regard to the sizing.  Given a second chance to pick my Trail Glove 2s, I might have gone with a half size larger, because, after training for and running our second half-marathon, I’ve noticed some calluses building up on the tips of my 2nd toes (I have Morton’s toe, which means that my 2nd toe is slightly longer than my big toe).  It seems I am encountering some light rubbing on the tips of those toes, which is causing them to blister and callus. Unfortunately, the Trail Glove 2 does not come a size 12.5 (or any other half sizes above size 12), so I’ll just have to deal with it for now.

Pros

  • Neutral aesthetics make them acceptable for sport and casual wear, and they match almost any running outfit.
  • Tons of traction control and stability in mud, gravel, and snow.
  • Works for any terrain, including concrete.
  • Offers an anatomical, glove-like fit while still allowing your toes to splay out in a natural way.

Cons

  • A slightly longer break-in time due to uncomfortable arch contouring.

Summary

All in all, I’ve come to realize why so many people flock to the Trail Glove 2 as their weapon of choice to hit the trails (or roads).  It is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the minimalist shoe world.  I rarely wrap up a review with only one con, but that’s just how it is when so much about a shoe is just right.  If you’re looking for a barefoot or minimalist shoe that is incredibly versatile, then the Trail Glove 2 might be the perfect choice for you.

Steve is an Executive Recruiter at Robert Half Executive Search in Madison, WI with a business degree in Information Systems and E-Commerce from the University of Toledo. Steve loves spending his time away from work; running, gaming, watching movies, checking out new social networking tools/sites/start-ups and blogging.