Merrell is a leading brand in the minimalist running shoe market, and the highly anticipated men's Trail Glove (*Est. $110) and women's Pace Glove (*Est. $110) were released in February 2011. The barefoot-style trail-running shoe weighs just 6.2 ounces (4.7 ounces for women's) and sits a mere 4 mm off the ground. Rubber toe bumpers and forefoot shock-absorption plates help protect the foot along rocky, uneven trails. Even so, this shoe provides minimal protection, but reviewers deliver very positive feedback. The flexibility, light weight, fit and feel of the Trail Glove/Pace Glove make it an ideal choice for runners who prefer a very minimalist shoe or who are transitioning to a barefoot-style running regimen.
User reviews for the Trail Glove/Pace Glove are more mixed since the shoe has a very distinct fit and feel. Some reviewers adore the locked-in feel of the upper paired with the roomier toebox that allows the foot to spread. Others say the shoe rubs on the upper and that the toebox is too roomy. The same goes for the level of protection. Barefoot enthusiasts say this shoe isn't barefoot-style enough, and sits too far from the ground and has too much protection. Others say the shoe provides too little protection. For those seriously considering transitioning into a very minimalist trail-running shoe, this is by far the best-reviewed on the market. But buyers beware: This shoe does not provide much support or protection. It should be used as a training tool to strengthen the foot and efficiency of a runner and used alternatively with a more traditional, protective shoe.
The Merrell Trail Glove/Pace Glove has received major attention and praise from several of the industry's top publications and experts. Runner's World selected the shoe as a Best Debut in its April 2011 bi-annual trail-running shoe guide. National Geographic Adventure also provides good feedback for the shoe, calling it its favorite minimalist trail shoe of the year. Other top publications including Running Times, Shape, Fitness and Canadian Running magazines select the Trail Glove/Pace Glove as one of the best releases of 2011. It should be noted, however, that these reviews are relatively brief. Better-detailed evaluations by individual consumers can be found at Amazon.com, which features a collective 100 reviews from both men and women.
1. Runner's World
Runner's World's annual shoe guides are considered the gold standard in running shoe reviews, and Warren Greene and Martyn Shorten are largely viewed as two of the most well-versed experts in the market. Nine models are selected in the 2011 installment of trail shoes, and the Merrell Trail Glove/Pace Glove earns the distinction of Best Debut. Editors say the shoe is best used as a training tool for efficient runners. Wear-testers say the shoe is "lightweight and flexible with a bit more protection."
Review: Ground Breakers, Warren Greene and Martyn Shorten, April 2011
Running Times is a strong source for running shoe reviews. Here, 12 new trail shoes are divided into four categories: barefoot-style, minimally cushioned, lightweight cushioned and protective/durable. Shoes aren't ranked, but they are wear-tested. Editors say the Merrell Trail Glove/Pace Glove offers extreme flexibility, but offers scant cushioning and little protection on the trail.
Review: 12 New Trail Shoes Reviewed, Brian Metzler, June 2011
3. National Geographic Adventure
In this annual guide, Steve Casimiro selects the must-have adventure gear of the year. Here, three varying styles of trail-running shoes are selected as top buys. The Merrell Trail Glove is chosen for its minimalist style, and praised for its flexibility, comfort and thin yet protective sole.
Review: Gear of the Year 2011, Steve Casimiro, Spring/Summer 2011
Thirteen models are selected in Shape magazine's most recent annual guide to women's athletic shoes. Models are chosen based on a variety of categories such as "Best Walking Shoes" and "Best Shoes for Fitness Classes." Here, three trail-running shoes are named favorites in the following categories: "Best Trail-running Shoes for Speed," "Best Trail-running Shoes for Distance" and simply "Best Trail-running Shoes." The new Merrell Pace Glove takes the prize for the overall best trail-running shoe, with reviewers saying the shoe is light and flexible but provides "ample protection from brush and rocks."
Review: Shape's Shoe Guide 2011: Find the Best Athletic Shoes, Sarah Bowen Shea, March 2011
5. Men's Fitness
Editors of Men's Fitness select nine running shoes for their 2011 shoe guide. Shoes are chosen to address a variety of needs, ranging from speed to cushioning to agility. The Merrell Trail Glove is named the best off-roading minimalist shoe but editors say very little about it, only noting that the foot is close to the ground and the shoe offers a secure fit.
Review: Shoe Guide 2011, Editors of Men's Fitness, As of June 2011
6. Canadian Running
As in previous incarnations, Canadian Running magazine's annual trail-running shoe guide features numerous pairs of trail shoes, but there's no indication that they were tested. The Merrell Trail Glove/Pace Glove makes the list. Editors say it's an excellent training shoe, allowing runners to move quickly over rocky trails. Again, the review notes that the shoe is thin but offers enough protection for most trails.
Review: Making Tracks: Trail Shoe Review, Gus Alexandropoulos, April 1, 2011
More than 60 users provide feedback for the Merrell men's Trail Glove and almost as many weigh in on the women's version, the Pace Glove. Reviews are very positive, but like most nearly barefoot-style shoes, these are a polarizing footwear option. For barefoot enthusiasts, the Trail Glove/Pace Glove provides too much support and protection. Some reviewers note that it isn't a true barefoot shoe. For others, the shoe offers too little protection and stability. However, the majority of reviewers praise the shoe for its comfortable fit and minimalism.
Review: Men's Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of July 2011