Monday, June 13, 2011

Merrell Trail Glove Shoe Review

I have had the Merrell Trail Gloves for a few months now and was waiting to review them until I had done a Tempo run, a recovery run, and a longer run on the road and on trails.  The Trial Glove has exceeded my expectations on every run. 

Fit and Feel

As far as sizing is concerned, the shoe fits about a half size large.  I was unsure of what size to get so I ordered three different sizes, 9.5, 10, and 10.5.  I ended up going with the 10.  In the 9.5, my toes were touch the end of the toe box (not good when running down hill).  The 10.5 felt too large.  The 10 seemed to fit very nicely.  For reference, I wear a 42 in VFF Bikilas and KSOs.

Many blogs and reviews mention that the Trail Gloves are very snug through the midfoot and they consider this a negative.  While it is true that the Trail Glove is snug through the midfoot, I believe this to be a positive.  The snug midfoot holds the foot in place while allowing  the large toe box to not feel sloppy.  It takes a bit getting used to but when you are out on the trail with this shoe, flying around you will truly begin to appreciate the overall feel of this shoe.  

The Trail Glove is also zero drop.  Meaning that there is no height difference between the heel and the forefoot.  It sits on a completely flat plane.  There are only a handful of other shoe companies that have taken the lead and produced a zero drop shoe.  It is also extremely light weight and flexible which is also a must for a minimalist shoe.

Since there are already several reviews out for the Merrell Trail Glove, I wanted to go a little different route on how the Trail Glove performed  on several different types of runs. 

Recovery run (slower shorter)

I did a recovery run in the Trail Gloves after a hard tempo run and my longest barefoot run to that point.  This is probably my least favorite type of run for this shoe.  That is only because when I have this shoe on, I want to go fast.  The zero drop, light weight, racing flat feel of this shoe encourages me to pick of the pace.  This shoe lets you land on your forefoot effortlessly but also gives enough protection to allow a faster pace.  I really struggled keeping my speed to where is should be for a recovery run.  I think this shoe could be a good recovery run shoe but it will take some discipline to run at a slower pace.  The next two types of runs is where the Trail Glove really shines.


Tempo run

I did what I consider to be a short tempo run in the Trail Glove.  This was actually my first run in the this particular shoe and I didn't want to go too fast for too long.  That being said, I absolutely could have gone on a much longer temp run in these shoes.  As I stated previously these shoes really promote a forefoot strike and feel like a racing flat but with better ground feel.  At higher speeds the shoe feels really smooth and my gait felt really natural.  I never felt like I was pushing myself but my pace would indicate otherwise.  Obviously a shoe can not make you fast if you are not in any kind of shape but a good tempo racing shoe should not inhibit your uptempo running gait.  This shoe really allows you to have quick turnover. I ran a 5k in this shoe and had a huge PR in the race.  It really performed well but I probably would not do a longer road race in this shoe. I will explain that in a minute.


Long slow run (trail and road)

I recently took the Trail Glove out for a long run that consisted of many different terrains.  I encountered  everything from very rocky trail, to hard packed dirt, to several miles on the road.  The trail is what this shoe was designed for and thus performs the best on.  The Vibram outsole is extremely durable and has great grip on all running surfaces.  My Trail Gloves show no signs of wear on them with close to 100 miles on them.  I expect to get at least 500 miles out of them.  If there is any negative of this shoe, is that it is not a great road shoe.  At least not for me.  The aggressive outsole is not very forgiving on the the hard rode but again this shoe was designed for the trail.  Merrel will be coming out with a road version for men and women called  The Road Glove and Dash Glove respectively,  in the coming months.  Stay tuned.

Summary

The Merrel Trail Glove is by far one of my favorite running shoes.  It performs great in just about all conditions.  Right now it is my top choice for an upcoming 50k this fall.  I have no doubts this shoe will perform beautifully.

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