Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove 2 ReviewMay 10, 2013
- Nice aesthetic upgrade from original version
- Softer, more comfortable upper and interior lining
- Thin, flexible forefoot plate provides protection impact without compromising flexibility
- Midfoot arch contour may be too narrow for some users
Best for dedicated trail runners, through-hikers, or minimalist outdoor enthusiasts looking for a low ride with modest cushioning and protective features for high-demand off-road activity. If you were a fan of the original Trail Glove, you’re sure to love the Trail Glove 2 as well.
To their credit, Merrell recognized that it had a good thing going with the Trail Glove – and instead of making changes just for novelty’s sake, limited their modifications of the Trail Glove 2 to subtle changes, mostly in material construction of the upper.
At 6.2 oz, the Trail Glove 2 is about as light as a shoe with a rock plate, moderate midsole, protective toe caps, and durable outsole rubber is going to get.
Fit and Comfort
The Trail Glove 2 uses the same last as the original, which is cut fairly narrow through the arch and midfoot area, which could be problematic for wide feet. The arch area maintains contact against the foot without adding unwanted structure or support.
This year’s Trail Glove 2 utilizes seamless construction throughout the upper, and the interior lining is comfortably soft against bare skin. Merrell’s OmniFit lacing system allows a great deal of customization through the midfoot area, and the toe box is well-proportioned to allow natural foot splay without feeling excessively wide or roomy. The microfiber mesh upper breathes quite well and drains water efficiently after water immersion.
For a shoe with a rock plate and distinct midsole, the Trail Glove 2 maintains nearly full flexibility through the forefoot, with slightly less flexibility in the rear foot. The rock plate has flex grooves that allow a natural heel-to-toe motion even on irregular terrain, and the Trail Glove 2 is noticeably more pliable in the forefoot than its predecessor.
Total stack height is 12mm in the heel and toe: 4mm is midsole EVA, along with a 2mm insole, 1mm rock plate, and the remainder being outsole rubber. Ground feel isn’t quite in the Vibram FiveFingers category, but the Trail Glove 2 still allows a solid connection to the ground with each step. You can sense all the bumps on the trail, but there’s no discomfort if you stub your toes or bang your foot into an unseen root or rock.
Outsole design and composition is identical to the original Trail Glove. Vibram’s TC-1 rubber outsole has medium-depth knobs and lugs that provide dependable grip on wet, dry, or irregular trail surfaces. Traction is reliably stable on wet rocks during stream crossings.
Based on prior experience, the Trail Glove should prove to be a true workhorse for outdoor activity. The previous version was good for several hundred miles without signs of wear or deterioration, and the Trail Glove 2 has demonstrated similar toughness through nearly 100 miles.
Although the outsole lugging is definitely more trail-specific than asphalt-ready, it’s not a problem to run a couple of road miles on your way to and from the trailhead. As previously mentioned, the original Trail Gloves also became popular with minimalist hikers, and the new version is just as suitable.