The Merrell Trail Glove 5 barefoot running shoes provides only what you need to confidently go fast with strong and steady footsteps on rugged technical trails. I must underscore however that the Trail Glove 5 is a better choice for minimalist runners who prefer moderate cushioning, not as cushioned as the Altra Escalante’s, but just enough underfoot protection to provide a nice soothing n’ smoothing of rocky, harsh, beat-up paths. With that mentioned, if you want more ground-feel for the trails, you may be more interested in the Merrell Vapor Gloves here!
Merrell has built an improved version of the previous Trail Glove as this update is lighter and much more flexible. But despite the shoes over thinness, the Trail Glove 5 has a noticeable amount of protection and durability that reliably stands up to heavy mileage on the trails.
More important, the Trail Glove 5 doesn’t give an obstructive fit, making it an excellent foot-strengthening tool! They also supply enough ground-feel to help you fuse a consistently stable connection with the trail at any pace. Essentially, its the combination of freedom of movement for the feet and good ground-feel clarity that’ll help you have a better handle on your forefoot strike that’s easier to maintain when running fast on any off-road terrain.
Many functional highlights of the Trail Glove 5 barefoot running shoes include an anatomically-correct design that perfectly matches the silhouette of the human foot and doesn’t interfere with toe-splay. Out of that comes increases in foot functional strength and renewing and improving your foots role in tightening balance when trail running.
In my view, the Merrell Trail Glove 5 barefoot running shoes really do have all the right elements that’ll give your feet a strength boost and your running form some polishing. Here’s more on why that is:
The Merrell Trail Glove 5’s stretchy mesh upper creates an excellent seal that’s expansive and perfectly wide throughout, especially at the front, allowing the foot to spread and engage, especially at the metatarsals and toes. This is essential because you’re better able to lock in more secured footstep stability, helping you lay down a more stable foundation when zipping over uneven terrain.
Overall, the Trail Glove 5’s upper scores more points than the previous models because of its lighter-weight, enhanced flexibility credit to the probiotic mesh fabric. All in all, flexibility should be a basic requirement of a good minimalist shoe and despite the Trail Glove 5’s added durability and protective support, flexibility is not compromised, in fact, its next level.
The entire upper twists and flexes freely and adapts with the natural movements of the foot, especially when making quick changes in direction and sharp decent when trail running.
The mesh upper also delivers enhanced breathability throughout, while the traditional lacing system faithfully secures the upper around the foot, providing a reassuringly snug fit without any pressure points.
The Trail Glove 5 barefoot running shoes are propped up on a zero-drop (completely level), 3-mm thin, toothy rubber Vibram outsole that has multi-directional flex cuts and indented grooves which provides further flexibility. The outsole’s long-lasting durabilty also makes the Trail Glove 5 an excellent choice for heavy mileage on more technical surfaces.
The underfoot is also armored with a TrailProtect™ rock plate which admirably protects the feet from stone bruising and contributes to a smooth, responsive ride when racing in the mountains.
Despite appearing more beefy in protection, the Trail Glove 5’s outsole really gives a fast, light and nimble feel that lets you feel the ground very well, helping keep your forefoot strike safely inline while running.
What’s the Shoe Good for?
Because of its robust durability, fluid flexibility, zero-drop profile and complete natural fit and feel, the Trail Glove 5 barefoot running shoes does a great job at giving you better leg swing and foot strike control while running at faster paces on a range of off-road terrain, such as twisty single-tracks, rugged mountains, crushed-gravel paths and hard-packed to dusty dirt, rooted trails.
Even better, the light, feathery-feel of the shoe makes it preferred for faster trail running efforts, too! However, the Merrell Trail Glove 5 is more than trail-specific! The shoes are also suited for shuffling in narrow creeks, power hiking, variable gym workouts and of course, they’re perfectly comfortable for casual, everyday wear!
Ultimately, in the trail minimalist running world, the Merrell Trail Glove 5 is a multi-terrain, multi-award deserving barefoot running shoe that can help clean up your running form, weaponize your feet and gets you prepared to go as far and fast as you want in dominating any serious trail!
If you’re interested in learning more and getting your paws on a pair of the Merrell Trail Glove 5’s, you can do so here!
If you’ve enjoyed this review, you’ll love my other reviews here on the barefoot-inspired running shoes necessary for form correction and foot strengthening. You can also check out my YouTube channel, here, why I talk more at length on forefoot strike vs heel strike running as well as barefoot vs shoes.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out my Run Forefoot Facebook page here! It’s a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I’m always happy to help!
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BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.