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Stack height: 11.5 mm
Drop: 0 mm
Weight: 6 ounces (1/2 pair women’s)
Best for: Shorter mileage on technical trails, workouts.
Best features: Light, nimble, comfortable, good groundfeel.
Room for improvement: Probably not suited for longer runs.
If you’re seeking a barefoot-style shoe to leave you hooting with stoke on your favorite trails this summer, you’ll want to check out Merrell’s updated Trail Glove. Redesigned for 2019, the new Trail Glove 5 (men’s here) is simply fun to run. This super nimble, lightweight trainer securely wraps the foot into a sleek zero-drop design that offers incredible ground-feel, responsiveness and stability on any terrain.
The updated Trail Glove 5 combines fun, funky colorways with high-quality, lightweight materials and technical prowess. Merrell leaves the bells and whistles behind to focus on essential features that keep your foot locked into the shoe and in touch with the trail. Stand-out features of the shoe’s construction are the thin but sticky Vibram sole, the redesigned midsole offering better arch support, the internal mesh sock liner and the breathable mesh/TPU upper.
With lugs included, the Trail Glove 5 outsole is only 4.5 mm thick, which means you get all the benefits of that sticky Vibram rubber without dampening any feel. Even with the forefoot rock plate, the foot still has freedom to move and flex naturally, so you can respond quickly when you’re picking through rocks, roots and other variable terrain. That said, the lug pattern doesn’t feel quite aggressive enough for truly wet and/or muddy conditions.
The shoe’s mid-sole arch support is a clutch feature that really kept my feet happy when testing the Trail Glove 5. It’s awesome to have the barefoot feel and responsiveness without sacrificing sufficient support for quick transitions on trail or workouts on roads. With this support for the mid-foot, I was as comfortable pushing hard strides on pavement in these shoes as I was keeping my foot fully engaged on twisty, technical single track.
The interior mesh liner (sock style) is also a stand-out feature that’s worth noting. With the shoe laced down, this liner helps wrap the foot into a truly glove-like fit and keeps the tongue from slipping during your run.
And finally, the mesh/TPU upper keeps the Trail Glove 5 light as a fairy slipper, with the TPU film laminated over the mesh in cool contrasting patterns that reinforce high-impact zones across the toes and sides of the shoe. This breathable mesh upper is really nice in hot weather, and dries quickly after workouts or water crossings. This breathability plus Merrell’s antimicrobial lining should keep the Trail Glove 5 running fresh for many miles.
Fit: The Trail Glove 5 fits, well, like a glove, feeling truly snug and stable. But despite being so snug and glove-like, there’s still plenty of room for the foot to spread in a generous toebox. The version 5 does seem to run a bit larger than the Trail Glove 4. I sized down ½ size and found the shoe to fit perfectly.
—Kelsey Brasseur is a mountain athlete, biologist and professional artist who firmly believes that every day is The Best Day Ever. As long as there are steep climbs and chocolate.