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Gear Review – Merrell Trail Glove

There are plenty of benefits to minimalist shoes including increased foot strength, bone density, and kenesthetic awareness of the foot upon ground contact. I personally wear minimalist shoes during strength sessions, drill sessions, and very short (3 or less mile) trail runs. Going minimal is not something you can do in a week, or a couple weeks. It is something that MUST be carefully progressed and weened onto. Otherwise, you are at a HUGE risk of injury. Personally, I never suggest taking the time to transition to barefoot to any of my athletes for a couple reasons. One, because of the long amount of time it takes to properly progress to running barefoot (also called minimalist) exclusively. And two, the faster you run, the greater the impact to the foot. Slow is fine, but no one ever out sprinted someone to the finish in bare feet. If you are bent on going minimal, save it for your off season, and be prepared to cut your running volume a good bit.

When I heard about the Trail Glove I was a little more than excited because my FiveFinger KSO’s were not doing it for me in the grass and on the trails. I was so excited in fact, I went and bought them the first day they were available and paid the crazy price tag of $100. I had done some research on them prior to making the purchase so I knew there was minimal support, just like the Fivefingers. Once I tried them on I noticed a slightly stiffer sole as compared to the Fivefingers. I applaud this because when running on the trails, I don’t want to feel every single stick and pebble under my foot. The soles are made by none other than Vibram, thus the interior of the shoe looks similar to the Fivefingers. I also like that you can wear any type of socks with them, if you so desire. As far as sizing goes, I ended up buying a half size smaller than normal.

One thing I am not real fond of is the lacing system. The laces pull on other straps that are attached to the tongue of the shoes. This is meant to make sure the shoes are snug, which is great when you lace them up tight to run. But when you want them loose, it’s hard to get the shoes to loosen up evenly. This could be me being picky.

Cutting to the chase, I set out for a run on the trails after a few days of wearing the shoes around. In true minimalist fashion, I opted for no socks on this adventure. I will say that these shoes are incredibly responsive on the trails. I felt very agile while I was bounding through the woods. At one point something got into the shoe which was pretty uncomfortable, but that was part my fault for not lacing them up tight enough. The one major issue I have with these shoes came around 40 min into my run (yes I got carried away and ran for around an hour). I started feeling a hot spot on the tops of both of my big toes. It quickly got worse and worse as I approached the end of my run. By the end of the run, I was in pain. It felt like my feet were on fire. After removing my shoes when I got back to my car, I noticed that there was no skin on the knuckle of my big toes. There is a seam within the shoe that is causing friction on the top of the foot. But, in an effort to add a positive, I didn’t get any other blisters on my feet, which is abnormal for me when running sockless.

Overall, I like the shoe but like the Fivefingers, they will be saved for walking around, skill sessions, and short runs. After the 2 weeks it took to heal the tops of my feet, I don’t plan to use them without socks ever again. I was actually hoping these shoes would be a good off road sprint triathlon shoe, but my feet are begging me to reconsider.

If you have any questions about these shoes, or would like to see a review of another minimalist or zero drop shoe, feel free to contact me.

Dale

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