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Merrell Barefoot Running Shoes – Review Posted by Jason Robillard

I just received a review pair of the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove today. I ran in them tonight, but Merrell has requested that I hold off on a review until February, which is actually a good call since it will give me some time to put some miles on them (Update 2/27/2011: My review of the Merrell Trail Glove is now posted). In the meantime, I’d like to refer you to a glowing review of the Merrell Trail Glove posted over at the Barefoot Running University by Jason Robillard. Jason is working with Merrell to develop educational materials associated with the formal release of the Merrell Barefoot line (reported to be February 1), and if my first run was any indication, Jason’s review is quite accurate.

Here’s a quick teaser photo of the Trail Glove (note – these are true zero-drop shoes – I measured them with calipers):

Merrell Trail Glove - Side

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.


  1. Michalakocarkova says:

    What will be better, New balance minimus or Merrell??

    • Pete Larson says:

      If you like firm, flat shoes, Merrell, if you like a bit of cushion and heel
      lift, New Balance.


      • Winfinancial says:

        Hey Pete,
        How do these feel relative to our discussions about toe box? Are they roomy as you define close to the 100 mm width? I really like a lot of the features and I was getting ready to buy the FF but I may hold off and wait for these if they are roomy enough. Wonder what the difference is between the true glove and the trail glove in their new line?

        • Jason at Barefoot running university just posted about toe box width for a bunch of shoes he uses including the new trail glove. You should check that out. True glove is a multipurpose all around have fun jump around climb on rocks shoe. Trail glove is a trail running shoe. I believe they have the same sole along with the tough glove, but all have different uppers depending on their attended usage.

          • winfinancial says:

            Hey Charlie,
            So true glove is not intended for road running? I don’t run trails much so this Merrell shoe will be for road running and I am just trying to figure out the new lines and their purposes. Love the looks of the shoes. I saw that toe box width but some of them didn’t make sense and he did not include the mm measurements like Pete. I see the tape but I can’t make out the objective differences. I am looking for a real comfortable toe box with zero drop and very light weight. Looks like it meets all those criteria.

          • Here is how Merrell describes the true glove
            “Our minimalist all-terrain True Glove adventure shoe cuts bulk while keeping bare essentials to let your feet hike hassle-free. An uber-lightweight upper with a stabilizing rubber foot sling snugs into the Vibram® sole underfoot for pointy rock protection.”

            I think if you are looking to run in one of these even if it is on the roads you want the trail glove. There are also other options coming out like the Altra Adam that may fit your criteria.

            We will also find out how these things handle the roads from Pete when he has his full review.

          • betsig250 says:

            True Glove is a in-betweener of the Trail and Tough glove. The only difference is the uppers. I don’t think I would run on the road with the tough glove but I would definitely run in the True on the road.

        • Pete Larson says:

          The toe box is right at 100 mm – plenty of room for me. Feels bit like
          the NB MT 101 in terms of width. I’ve run 11.5 miles in them the past
          two days, all on roads and icy snow. No problems other than a few
          abrasion spots which usually work themselves out. like them a lot.


  2. I read on Jason’s review that he uses these shoes to run both trails and road. Do you see yourself using the Trail Gloves more than your Kinvaras? More than the VFF?

    Any idea how the Merrill’s will compare to the Altra’s?

    • Pete Larson says:

      Can’t comment on altra as I don’t have them yet. The Merrells work fine on
      roads – if you’re familiar with the Vibram Trek the feel is very similar.
      It’s hard to predict where I will be going forward. No intention to stop
      using my Kinvaras for ditance, but once the Hattori comes out that may


  3. Pete,

    I know you are dying to comment on the Merrell’s. Stay strong. Take your time and give us your standard excellent, thoughtful review.

    It will be interesting to see if your impressions differ from Jason’s, especially with regard to how the Merrell’s will function as road shoes. I also look forward to your comparison between these and the Minimus(es). Minimi?

    I hope to add a pair of these or the Minimus Road to my barefoot/Bikila/Kinvara arsenal.

  4. What about us girls?? The Merrill barefoot line (link in Jason’s review) shows an oh-so-cute girly shoe for women and NO trail running shoe at all! I’d love to know if they used a unisex last so I can buy the men’s version.

    Looking forward to your review of these with so many good minimalist shoes coming out in Feb/March to choose from!

    • Pete Larson says:

      The women’s running model is called the Pace Glove. Should be fine for both
      roads and trails.


      • Nschnupp says:

        Yes, but. But it has elastic at the back of the heel (very strange) and no pull tab. The lacing is not as adjustable on the women’s version: it doesn’t have the final two holes so you can do a heel-locking lace. And it doesn’t seem that they have made any effort to get them out to women runners to review or preview; only one of the review on Merrell’s website was a serious runner. I was excited about their “barefoot” shoe, but I’m going to hold off and see if they come out with something less watered down in my size.

  5. Whotrustedus says:

    I got an email from Merrell today. The Barefoot Trail can now be ordered from their web site.

  6. Whotrustedus says:

    My new Trails were delivered today. Among other things, I’m struck by the size of the toebox. It is much wider than the rest of the shoe. I know that a bigger toebox is needed to allow for the splay. but i was surprised at the differential . The shoe fits snugly at the heel & midfoot but has tons of room at the toe & ball. Is that expected?

    • Pete Larson says:

      Yes, that’s why I like them so much! My forefoot is actually comfortable in
      these shoes. Feel is very similar in the soon to be released New Balance
      Minimus line.


  7. edit

  8. Whotrustedus says:

    Should there be a transition to these shoes if one is already running in VFFs? Or can I just lace up & go?

  9. Can you (or anyone else) comment on the sizing. One review on the Merrell site is from and 11.5 and VFF 43 wearer, who had to downsize to a 10. Yet, another review I read suggests they fit similar with a size 12 wearer feeling good in a size 12.

    I wear a 10.5 Kinvara and 43 VFF and want to go ahead and order online since no stores nearby have them in stock. Should I get a 10 or just be patient and wait until they are in stores.

    Also curious if your pair is actually a blue color that is not available or if that is the black, but the photo makes it look blue.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Mine is the black shoe, and sizing is true for me. I wear a 10 in Trail
      Glove and just about every other shoe I have.


    • Whotrustedus says:

      I got the “Olympia” color from their web site. It is blue and matches what i saw on their web site.

      Despite those comments on their web site, i think they run true to size. I’m a 12 and I ordered a 12 and they seemed to fit fine. be forewarned about their fit. they are definitely snug around the midfoot but with a monster size toebox. All intentional and appropriate, I know, but different than other shoes I’ve worn.

  10. Whotrustedus says:

    First run today in the Trail glove. What an interesting shoe! The oversized toebox makes for a very different experience. It is way cool to have a good fit around the heel but still have room for the toes to do their thing. This one is a keeper!

    • Pete Larson says:

      I agree – I love the design. The Minimus and Altra shoes are similar in that


      • michael mainds says:

        Pete, are you posting a review of these on here soon?

        I’m curious as to how well they hold up in mud. VFFs just let it straight in at the toes, these look as though they may potentially do the trick

        • Pete Larson says:

          I will be reviewing very soon, and I like them a lot. Can’t say much about
          mud though – all ground has been frozen solid for months here in NH!


  11. Merrell is a great brand for running shoes. I also like to recommend for more information on how to make your own shoes.

  12. My Favorite Barefoot running shoes are by far New Balance. They have superior Quality and feel. I’ve been using mine for years and they have lasted some of the worst tests I have put them through. Currently I’m running with the MR10 ( http://www.newbalancevancouver… ) and I’d recommend them to everyone!!!

    • Pete Larson says:

      I don’t mind you plugging a link to your store once, but in four separate comments it’s a bit excessive…
      Sent from my iPad

      • TBH I didn’t realize I was on the same site, I’ve been reading about different shoes for the majority of the day! Apologies!

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