Trail Glove $140
Pace Glove $125
Since the ITU has mandated that athletes must wear shoes, running completely barefoot in a triathlon isn’t an option. That’s where shoes like Merrell’s Pace Glove or Trail Glove come into play. While Merrell does make road versions of these barefoot shoes, since we do so much of our training on trails we thought we’d give the Pace (women’s) and Trail Glove versions a shot.
Barefoot running is definitely not for everyone. Fans cite a lower prevalence of injuries in the ankle and lower leg, but critics point out that barefoot runners often find themselves dealing with pulled calf muscles, Achilles tendinitis and stress fractures, especially if they ramp up their barefoot running too soon.
Our two reviewers were careful to gradually work their way up to longer stints in the Pace and Trail Glove. As seems to be the case with the barefoot craze these days, the two had mixed results. Our male reviewer soon came to love his Trail Glove shoes, especially for speed efforts on grass. Our female reviewer didn’t find the shift to barefoot running as easy, but was happy to do shorter, easy runs in the shoes and loved them for the freedom and comfort they provided as a walking around shoe after workouts.
Both loved the feeling of the Merrell barefoot shoes. Extremely lightweight, the Vibram-soled shoes provide your feet with protection from rocks and rough terrain, while the breathable air mesh upper is extremely comfortable. There’s no point having a barefoot shoe that you need to wear socks with – you won’t need to worry about that here. There’s a nice, wide toe box to allow your toes to splay, while the lacing system provides a glove-like fit. The fused rubber to bumper helps make this shoe extremely durable. There is a bit of EVA midsole protection thanks to a series of 4 mm compression molded cushions.
Running in the Pace/ Trail Glove certainly gives you that barefoot feel, allowing your foot to move freely and unencumbered. It’s easy to get up on your toes and get up to speed for faster efforts on the grass or road, while it’s also easy to quickly maneuver between rocks and roots if you’re on rougher trails.
If you’ve managed to make the switch to barefoot running, or are looking for a shoe to try, you’ll definitely want to look at the Merrell Pace or Trail Glove. The combination of lightweight, comfort and just enough protection make this an excellent barefoot trail option. Thanks to the Vibram sole and the minimalist design, there’s really not a lot that will wear out quickly in this shoe, so you’re likely to get a lot of wear from them.-KM