Friday, March 8, 2013

March Madness Redux! Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove vs. Trail Glove 2.0 Review!

Ok, if you remember back to last March, I ran a March Madness post comparing the Merrell Trail Glove and Road Glove.  There were a lot of debates about those shoes, and you can read that head to head match up by clicking here.   And, I also wrote a review of the original Trail Glove here. 

Trail Glove 2.0

Original Trail Glove 

So... for this year's March Madness, its the original Trail Glove vs. the Trail Glove 2.0 from Merrell's new M Connect Series.

Hopefully this review will provide some feedback for those of you who have the original Trail Glove and are in need of replacing them.  Also, I'll do my best to relay my impressions of the Trail Glove 2.0 by itself, for those of you in the market for a first pair of minimalist trail runners.

First of all some good news!  After running in the 2.0's, I have to say that Merrell kept all the great things in the Trail Glove the same, and improved the shoe in several areas.  Before I get into my detailed comparison, take a quick look at this video from Outdoor Retailer 2013 that highlights some of the changes:

 My only issue, if you could even call it that, was the fact that the original Trail Gloves had kind of a tight or squeezing feel across my midfoot, especially when compared to the Road Glove or my other minimalist shoes.  It wasn't necessarily a bad thing, just different. As noted in the video (and noticed by me right away) is that the fact that the toe box and upper has a more comfortable and less constricting feel as compared to the original. The 2.0 feels a bit more like the original Road Glove.  Also, I noticed that besides being just a bit more roomy and comfortable, the sole is slightly more flexible which is great.

Yes.. I did take this shot on the washing machine... epic I know.. 
As you can see above, the sole is basically the same on each shoe. I didn't discern any differences in the tread etc BUT.. there is a noticeable change in the flexibility of the flexible rock plate beneath the mid-foot.  The plate (which you can see through the 3 slits in the mid-foot) is a bit more flexible in the 2.0.  When I bend the shoe, the original trail glove remains a little flat, but on the 2.0 it curves a bit more and makes the shoe more flexible.

The most noticeable change on the upper is the reduction of the "Omni-Fit" lacing system from 8 eyelets down to just the top 4 eyelets.  This may partially contribute to a slightly roomier and less constricting feel (at least in my mind).  I do like this system however because it provides a nice snug fit which is great for trail running.  So, keeping the system in place for the upper eyelets maintains this solid fit in the 2.0.  Also, the upper feels lighter and may breathe a little better.   BUT.. to be sure, in Barefoot Inclined style, I ran several runs wearing one of each shoe (and yes, I swapped out which one each time... this is science!).  And if you are wondering, yes, I did get a number of funny looks!

So, I took off on my favorite local trail for several runs to get a feel for any differences in the shoes.  Being that it is still winter, I could feel a bit more breeze through the 2.0's, so they do breathe a little better.  And they certainly had a slightly more flexible feel, which was surprising considering my Trail Gloves are a year old, and the 2.0's don't have near the miles on them.  The good news is that I felt the same protection on the chunky trail in both shoes, so there was no trade-off of protection for flexibility.

The final verdict?  The Trail Glove 2.0 is winner!  BUT... that rather than considering it a competition, look at it more as an improved offspring of the original Trail Glove. They are both great shoes, both on and off the trail.  While the design and construction performs great on trails, the Trail Glove is just as happy to take you on the road, or to the store.   Nice job Merrell!!

And, stay tuned for an upcoming review of a totally rad shoe from the M-Connect Series... the Vapor Glove... a minimalist dream brought to reality...    seriously.. :-)

Once again, thanks for tuning in.  And as always, any questions/feedback/rants/raves accepted via comments below.

Happy Trails!



  1. I love Merrell shoes in general, but strangely haven't tried their running shoes. Thanks for the review--you've encouraged me to check these out!

  2. i'm eager to read about your take on the vapor glove. thanks for this jeff!

  3. Judging from the pictures, it seems that the TG2 has a less roomy toe box (they have less of a "clownish" look to them). Would you say that is the case? You mention that the toe box seems less constricting than the original TG, however; so this left me a bit confusing. Could you clarify? Thanks!

    1. Hey Brenno.. I think much of that is just the nature of the distinct coloring of the TG's I have. The black toe really pops out compared to the white. The TG2 colors blend better, so I think they look less clownish? Also, if you note the TG2 doesn't have the "omni fit" lacing all the way down, but only on the top 4 eyelets. This certainly contributes to a less constricting feel, primarily across the front portion of the mid-foot. I certainly noticed the more relaxed feel when wearing one of each shoe. For me, the TG2 is more roomier on my toes. Hope that helps!


  4. Cheers for that. Good to see some analytics (different shoe on each foot). :)

  5. Are these suitable for long road runs?

    1. I would say yes... the tread is not aggressive, so would work good on pavement... how long you can run would really depend on whether you like a cushy shoe or not... the stack height is not super minimalist, but not cushioned either..


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