First Look: Merrell Trail Glove 5

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Specs:

  • Weight: 7.0oz men’s / 6.0oz women’s
  • Stack heights: 11.5mm heel/11.5mm toe
  • Heel-toe drop: 0mm
  • Lightweight mesh and TPU upper
  • Hyperlock TPU film heel counter
  • 3mm insole with antimicrobial treatment
  • TrailProtect forefoot rock plate
  • Vibram TC5+ outsole rubber with 3mm lugs

Merrell was early to embrace the Born to Run era barefoot craze, and they’re one of the only companies that has successfully integrated minimalist shoe options into a more traditional or mainstream product line. The Trail Glove has been around since the start of the barefoot movement and has demonstrated staying power with a loyal fan base in the ensuing years, even as the industry swung in the max-cushion direction.

The quick review here is to say, if you’ve enjoyed Trail Glove shoes in the past, you’ll love the Trail Glove 5. It provides the same sock-like fit and excellent ground feel, but has some key construction updates that improve its comfort and performance. One caveat for longtime Trail Glove users is that version 5 runs slightly larger than the previous version, so you may consider sizing down by a half size.

Primary updates are found in the midsole, which has a mildly contoured arch, and a new lateral stability zone of high density material that rides up higher through the midfoot area. Although these sound like anti-minimalist features, their net effect is to maintain good alignment and full foot contact, and engagement with the ground during rapid changes in movement when doing pickups or exploring irregular terrain. New responsive foam helps further amplify the foot’s reaction and transition with changes in speed or surface. A forefoot rock plate provides a small degree of protection for aggressive running, but the stack heights are still low enough that you’ll feel most bumps underfoot.

Increased lateral stability area in midfoot

The outsole pattern of the Trail Glove 5 is redesigned, but the changes seem more cosmetic than functional. Lugging is shallow to provide high surface area grip and stability, and the Vibram TC5+ compound holds well on mild to moderate trail conditions. However we experienced a bit of slipping while traversing slick stream crossings and gravel downhills. The outsole and midsole are completely flexible, allowing your foot to bend and move naturally, so it’s easier to quick-step your way through technical terrain with the Trail Glove than with heavier or bulkier shoes.

Updated outsole lugging pattern

Rounded toe box with TPU film overlay

Uppers on the Trail Glove 5 feature lightweight, breathable mesh with thin TPU overlays around the toe box that connect to the lacing system in the midfoot. The overlays provide nice durability without compromising breathability, and these shoes dried quickly after water immersions. The heel cup and the rest of the upper are soft and comfortable when moving with your foot’s natural motion.

The Merrell Trail Glove 5 is now available at www.merrell.com.

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About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, California native, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 25 years of experience in endurance sports. He was a collegiate rower at UCLA, then dabbled in marathons and Ironman-distance triathlons before falling in love with ultras in the early 2000s. His favorite locations to run include Marin County, CA, and the Sierra Nevada mountains, and he loves exploring America's National Parks. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

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