Merrell Trail Glove vs. New Balance Minimus Trail Review

Two minimalist trail shoes simulating a barefoot running style are being released this winter to major hoopla (the Merrell Trail Glove in February and the New Balance Minimus Trail in March) and I was privileged enough to receive a pair of both. Rather than review these shoes separately, I thought it would benefit discriminating readers and potential purchasers to compare and contrast the shoes as well as their relative performance on the trail.

I should note that both shoes were tested on very soft trails that provided me with enough protection to test and enjoy these shoes to the fullest.  Also, both shoes are designed to be worn sockless and were tested in that manner.  I would recommend a deliberate and delicate transition to training in either of these shoes, and both manufacturers’ websites include warnings and training tips to incorporate barefoot style running into your regime. Merrell feels strongly enough about needing to educate runners about transitioning to barefoot running that it ask all media to hold off on publishing any reviews of the Merrell Trail Glove until the Merrell Barefoot website with extensive educational materials launched yesterday, while New Balance educates runners about Good Form Running.

Merrell Trail Glove

The Merrell Trail Glove features a Vibram outsole with a zero drop from heel-to-toe, which is sure to please many of the minimalist purists out there.  Weighing in at 6.2 oz (men’s size 9) the Trail Glove lives up to its name by being highly flexible and snug fitting throughout the heel and, especially, the midfoot area.  The toe box is very wide and allows the wearer to splay their toes at foot plan.

Merrell Trail Glove

Upper
The Trail Glove’s upper features a highly breathable microfiber fabric with synthetic overlays that connects to a traditional lacing system creating the aforementioned snug forefoot feel.  Because the Trail Glove is designed to be worn without socks, the ankle collar is snug and the inside of the shoe is smooth and plush to prevent rubbing and blistering.  If I were to wear shoes sockless at all times, I would look like the poster boy for moleskin. With that in mind, during my first four mile jaunt in the shoes I developed some rubbing on the medial (inside) of my forefoot right before my big toe metatarsal.  This happens to be where the toe overlay connects to the microfiber mesh.  Upon inspection I found that a piece of extra fabric from the interior of the shoe designed to prevent friction had come loose and caused the rubbing. The problem was alleviated simply by cutting the offending material out.

Merrell Trail Glove upper

Midsole
The surprising thing about the Trail Glove is that it does have a 1 mm forefoot shock absorption plate to protect from rocks.  This plate is not noticeable and does not hinder flexibility at all in the shoe.  The shoe’s very limited cushioning is provided by 4mm compressed EVA contained mostly in the heel of the shoe.

Outsole
Merrell teamed with Vibram to construct a rounded, foot conforming outsole that seems very durable and sticky. What the outsole lacks in lugs and traction devices it makes up for in its ability to allow the foot to flex around and over obstacles, such as rocks.

Merrell Trail Glove in motion

Merrell Trail Glove in motion

New Balance Minimus Trail

The Minimus Trail features a 4mm heel to toe drop and weighs in at 7.5 oz in a men’s size 9.

New Balance Minimus Trail

Upper
I wish I had a better way of putting it, but the Minimus Trail’s upper feels like a snug and running-ready Nike Aqua Sock.  C’mon, everyone had a pair of Aqua Socks, no?  Alright, I will embellish.  The upper features a mixture of stretchy underlays covered by a non-stretchy and durable mesh that, together, keep out debris while allowing the shoe to truly conform to the contours of your feet.  The upper also features synthetic leather overlays on the outside that lock the foot down to the shoe, especially in the midfoot area, and the toebox is wide and open.  I have not experienced any rubbing or blisters while running in this shoe.

New Balance Minimus Trail upper

Midsole
New Balance Minimus Trail in motionThe midsole of the Minimus Trail features a bit more cushioning than the Trail Glove. The midsole works seamlessly with the outsole to provide protection, some modicum of cushioning, and support.  The supportive aspect of the shoe comes almost entirely from the outsole’s arch support. This support was appreciated greatly during longer runs (8-10 miles) in the Minimus Trail.  I cannot find any evidence that the Minimus Trail has a rock plate and most of the protection/ support of the shoe is offered by the overlays and Vibram outsole.

Outsole
The Minimus Trail’s outsole is difficult to explain.  It is a thicker Vibram outsole than the Trail Glove and more protective, as well.  There is a very unique flush hexagonal pattern to the sole with very small spaces where you can see the midsole foam.  I did experience the unfortunate event of taking a sharp rock directly in one of those small gaps and it was not pleasant, but it was nothing that curtailed my run or left a lasting impression in my forefoot.

[iRunFar’s Bryon Powell previously published a review of the New Balance Minimus Trail.]

Performance Comparisons

The Merrell Trail Glove and New Balance Minimus Trail are two shoes aimed at the same niche-but-growing community of trail runners looking for shoes that allow their feet to function unimpeded, but with protection from the trail.  I truly enjoyed running in both shoes and I will continue to utilize them as a tool in my running, both to increase my foot and lower leg strength and for the sheer enjoyment of it.  I will, however, stick to soft trails when running in these shoes and would not attempt to take them on anything burly or rocky.  That’s just my personal preference.

The Trail Glove is the more flexible, but despite having a minimal rockplate, it was the less protective of the two shoes.  You can certainly feel its zero drop, which forces you right onto the ball of your foot.  The shoe also offers the most forefoot room for toe splay. I also think that the forefoot in this shoe is the most flexible and widest of any shoe running shoe I’ve ever worn.  This shoe allows the foot to be completely unimpeded while the thinner Vibram outsole flexes easily.  This flexibility may come with a price.  On my second run in the Trail Glove I hit a sharp rock that resulted in bothersome pain in the ball of my foot that lasted for several days.  This was on the smooth, soft trail, but all it took was one rock to cause me significant pain.

The Minimus Trail features a better designed shoe interior that did not cause any rubbing on my virgin feet.  It also fit more consistently throughout the shoe and felt like it locked my foot down better.  The shoe felt more structurally substantial as the midsole and Vibram outsole combine to provide a tinge of support.  I felt more protected in the Minimus Trail and the 4mm drop did not give me any calf tightness the following day.  While the Minimus Trail is not as flexible as the Trail Glove, it offers increased protection.  Now, this is nowhere near the protection offered by your typical minimalist/ racing trail shoe.  However, it gave me the confidence and protection to run over the same rocky area where I had bruised my foot in the Trail Glove.

I think both shoes are well made, fully idealized barefoot trail shoes into which both manufacturer’s invested much thought and passion.  I think the decision of which shoes to choose comes down to the reasons for which you want to incorporate this type of shoe into your training.  For runners fully indoctrinated in barefoot running or zero drop shoes, I would recommend the Trail Glove as a go-to trail shoe for non-technical trails.  For those hoping to break into this new world of barely there trail footwear or those running higher mileage on rockier trails, I would recommend the Minimus Trail to keep your feet feeling nearly bare, but protected.  Either way, running in trail shoes which simulate barefoot performance is freeing and exhilarating. I’ve definitely noticed benefits in my foot strength and injury prevention.  Just transition with caution!

Call for Comments
Which of the shoes are you looking forward to most? Which features of both stand out as positives or as negatives? Would you even consider running in shoes this minimal or is all that you’ll run in?

Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

There are 102 comments

  1. Jason Robillard

    "For runners fully indoctrinated in barefoot running or zero drop shoes, I would recommend the Trail Glove as a go-to trail shoe for non-technical trails. For those hoping to break into this new world of barely there trail footwear or those running higher mileage on rockier trails, I would recommend the Minimus Trail to keep your feet feeling nearly bare, but protected."

    Having run several hundred miles in both, I think this quote perfectly sums up the two shoes. As a barefoot runner, I preferred the Trail Gloves. Having said that, both shoes are miles ahead of every other minimalist shoe on the market. Good review, Tom!

    1. Bryon Powell

      Jason, Thanks for your comment, corroboration of Tom's review, and work with Merrell to put out educational materials for the Merrell Barefoot line. I'm so glad to see barefoot and minimalist shoe companies finally starting to take adequate steps to educate the the public on the proper use of and transition to such shoes.

  2. Tyro

    Thank you for this summary. Based on your & Jason's reviews, I am eager to buy one of these but I was having a hard time deciding which. I don't have the budget to buy both so am looking for something that I can use for training as well as some ultras. Here in Western Canada, the trails are pretty rough with a lot of sharp rocks so it looks like the Minimus is the way to go.

    I even wonder if the Minimus would offer enough protection for longer runs. My feet got bruised when I tried doing even short trail runs in my VFFs so either the soles of my feet are still tender & dainty or the trails are really rough but either way I'd like something to block the rocks.

  3. Tom Caughlan

    Peter,

    I did not wear socks in either shoe, which is not my usual practice.

    Jason,

    Glad to hear you feel the same way in the shoes as a seasoned barefoot style runner. Thanks for the kind words.

    Tyro,

    I think that you could do longer runs in the Minimus. I topped off at about 10 miles but I didn't really push it. Just know that you will be less protected than other minimalist type trail shoes. I will say that it is a different sensation to run in these shoes and it feels liberating.

  4. Mark

    Hi, Do you know if these shoes will be released in the UK

    Also, how do they compare to the MT101's (US version) interms of sizing and feel?

  5. Mike

    Tom (or Bryon),

    To follow-up a little on Mark's question: how do these shoes compare to the NB MT101 in terms of running feel, foot protection and everyday wear? I absolutely *love* the MT101 and I'm curious to hear how these two new models compare.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Both shoes have good running feel with the Minimus having more protection. Still, in very limited testing I found even the Minimus to be just enough for moderately rocky sections of trail up here in Park City…. but I my feet are NOT acclimated to barefoot-like or other minimal protection shoes. Personally, I find the MT101s to be at the bottom end of my comfort range for nearly every day wear. Ok, so I've not worn the MT101s every day, but I can see myself being able to do so.

      I've put more time in the Minimus (I received the Trail Glove after winter had set upon the mountains) and could see it being a training shoe I wear for one or two real training runs a week OR a shoe that I could wear for the lighter run of two-a-days, if i every get there.

  6. jared

    Great review – can't wait for the shoes. I did my trail running in Evos for a while and had to literally tip toe/run over sections of my rocky trails. Didn't take me long to realize how silly that was. I am excited for a true minimalist trail shoe.

    1. Tyro

      That was my experience with VFFs. I realize now that I'm far more interested in shoes which enable the mid/forefoot running style with low heel-drop rather than the other features of barefoot running like ground feel. On the trails around my house "feel" is just a code-word for bruised feet and a very slow pace. I can only imagine the damage I could do in an ultra when fatigue makes me a little sloppy, ouch.

  7. jared

    Point #2 – I am already ready for some minimal trail shoes with gore tex and decent lugs that I could be using this winter in the snow and the impending sloppy spring.

    1. Matt

      While they don't have Gore-Tex, the Inov-8 BareGrip 200 has very aggressive lugs that would do well in sloppy stuff. They have no midsole and a zero-drop profile. They will be out in the next month or so.

  8. Tarzan Sutton

    I did my first Ultra in a pair of Vibram Bikila. I did fine on the soft trail portion and roared thru mud puddles and everything else the trail threw at me…..the only bad part was the rocks! Once I thought I broke my foot and several other times I thought my feet were reduced to bloody stumps……thankfully niether happened and I finished. All this being said-I adopted the Bikila mode after several injuries and got back in shape for this event, the only thing I would of changed in the 50k was I would of worn better protection for my feet. I have a pair of New Balance 840's (AWESOME)…I'm going with the Minimus when it comes out….next 50k is in July!

    1. Todd

      I scooped a pair of the NB Minimus from Amazon 2 days ago! There were only three pairs left at that time. Looking forward to taking them out on the trails!

  9. Satisfied Keef

    Currently I´m using a salomon trail running shoe in size 8 1/2. As I want to wear the merrell without socks, I wondered if I should order them in a smaller size. I´m from austria so I don´t have the opportunity to put them on in a shop. Great review, thanks a lot!

  10. Stephen

    Thanks for the review. I was a huge fan of the MT100's and now the 101's. One cosmetic question: I was bummed they didn't release the 100's in the U.S. in orange…do you know if that will be the case with the Minimus?

  11. tim barnes

    I was fortunate enough to take a spin in Altra's Lone Peak last month, and I absolutely loved them. The thought that has gone into the design of this shoe is really spot on. The Lone Peak pretty much has you covered for any trail condition you may encounter, and yet it feels like an extension of your foot. During my whole run on snowy, wet front range trails, I never really thought about my shoes- I didn't have to. The best part, I think, is that it really can be a shoe for everyone. Zero drop, wide toe box, snug heel . . . can't wait.

  12. eric

    Any information on sizing of the Merrells?

    Should the fit be along the same lines as VFF? I bought a pair yesterday and went a size down from normal but they aren't the "skin tight" fit of the Vibrams.

    Thanks

  13. John Maurer

    It took about four – six months to get "use" to my Five Fingers (very minimalist shoe). I love going "natural"…but, take some time with these shoes to get the calves, tendons, and buttocks, up to speed. Since running in the Five Fingers I have noticed decreased knee pain (already had one surgery in my running career) and almost no back pain. I almost stopped running due to lower back pain. After reading "Born to Run" I realized my lower back was taking a pounding from running "conventional" style (heal strike). I plan on buying the Minimus for winter running and running on very rocky/sharp terrain (around Phoenix) otherwise I just run everywhere in the Five Fingers. Hope all this helps, have fun!

  14. Todd

    just got back from a run, with my nb minimus, and they were great! I only ran 4 miles in them, as my feet were feeling a bit worked. Luckily it was a loop, so i could switch out to my mt 101's for the remainder of the run. My initial thoughts on the minimus:1- they fit like a glove, and left no blisters or hot spots and I was running sockless. 2- really great ground feel, I could really feel the trail underneath me, it was indeed liberating! but were cushioned enough that I wan't worried about running over knarly terrain. 3- they were fairly grippy, but I did slip a few times when running downhill on wet leaf covered ground (I think any shoe would slip here!) I can see myself running in these for about 20-30% of my runs, but will really ease into the full runs slowly. I will still run in my mt 101's for my go to shoes, but the minimus is a great shoe to have in the quiver!

  15. Brad

    Glad to hear someone else out there still loves the NB 840s. Ugh, i wish they had never stopped making those. I have been doing all my new trail running here in Hawaii in the MT101's which I like quite a bit though the lugs are not quite as "grippy" as the 840s. Oh well, I guess I will have to make due. I wish they would hurry up with the Minimus.

    1. Anonymous

      I was wondering if anybody else out there wore the 840's. I love them and wish they still made them. I'm new to Ultras-one under my belt-doing a 50K in July. I just picked up the Minimus….can't wait for Spring to come to Wisconsin and the trails to open up!

  16. Tyro

    The New Balance store here in Vancouver got a shipment of the Minimus in on Thursday. I got my pair and took them out on a 22km trail run and I loved them! I haven't tried the Trail Gloves yet but the Minimus feel great. A couple sharp rocks jabbed up causing no bruises and no pain, just enough to remind you of the trail feel. I'd been having some shin and calf pains when running with my La Sportiva Crosslite's (about 11mm heel drop) and it all went away with the Minimus.

    So well done New Balance. I'm not happy that they made us wait so long but at least there here now!

  17. Glen Adkins Jr.

    Greetings,

    I don't have access to either of these shoes in Costa Rica, but am glad to see that others are taking to the minimalist approach. My last marathon (Nike Women's 2007, SF) was ran in Nike Free 3.0's and was my most pleasant of my four marathons. As of Saturday, February 26th, I am training for my first ultra (North Face Challenge, Tres Rios, Costa Rica), which will be a departure from asphalt courses and more of a muddy nightmare! I don't have alot of faith in the performance of my Nike Frees because the waffle construction of the sole is a magnet for pebbles, which can be a great annoyance. I bought three pair of the Nike Frees because Nike is notorious for discontinuing good shoes the moment they release them, in an effort to get people to buy the next thing.

    Are there any older model of shoes that take the minimalist approach that would be suitable for the type of muddy run that will include traversing two volcanoes?

    Thank you in advance,

    Glen

    1. Tyro

      The Inov-8 Bare Grip 200s look like they would be perfect for muddy, gnarly terrain. Since you're running in the Frees which have a sizeable heel-toe drop, you might check out some of the other Inov-8 shoes like the X-Talon if the Bare Grip isn't available in time for your race.

      I've ran with the La Sportiva Crosslites quite a bit and their grip is great especially when it gets wet or muddy. The heel-toe drop should be about the same as the Frees or the MT 101s (about 11mm) so they might work well for you.

    2. Dan

      I run in 3.0s and they have a pretty small drop, the standard Frees have a much more sizeable drop however. If you've been running in 3.0s for a while I don't think you would have much trouble running in some of the lighter Inov-8 models.

  18. MikeC

    I see the minimus on the new balance website today. Is there any difference in the soles between the orange and yellow version. The Yellow stripes on the bottom of the yellow version look wider than the same area of the orange version. Is this an optical illusion or is the yellow meant to be more flexible?

  19. Jack

    Dear New Balance Fanclub,

    I have been a member myself for a few years, now. I've owned 3 pairs of 100s, one pair of 101s, and right now I'm getting really really close to purchasing a pair of trail minimus. I have enjoyed all of these minimal NB shoes, I think they are some of the best shoes I have ever owned.

    I have narrower feet, so I was a little disappointed when NB widened the toebox in the 101. I found the 100s fit my feet a little better. The 101 seemed to be almost a half size bigger in my estimation. My question is this (to anyone who has tested out the minimus) do they have a more or less voluminous toebox? Do they fit more like the 100, or the 101?

    They look to be more like the 100 from photos, but I would be grateful to anyone with first hand knowledge of the relative fits of these shoes who could steer me in the right direction.

    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Jack

    1. Dan

      I haven't worn the 101s but the Min Trail are a pretty snug fit, more so than the 100s or the Trail Gloves I would say.

      1. Jack

        Cool. Thanks for the response, Dan. I already went ahead and bought a pair of minimi. I can't wait till they show up. I'll be pleased if they are on the snugger side, as you pointed out, also (ala 100s).

        Happy trails,

        Jack

  20. They are out!

    […] the Merrell Trail Glove. This is a pretty comprehensive comparison of the two that I found useful: Merrell Trail Glove vs. New Balance Minimus Trail Review Attachments Pending […]

  21. ejk

    just a general comment…

    I just bought my first pair of 101s a few months ago and I was incredibly excited about the minimus. I finally ran in the minimus today. But then i thought:

    -The 101 has a rock plate, the minimus doesn't (although it seems to protect pretty well)

    -The 101 only weights .7ozs more

    -The 101 is $25 cheaper

    So whats the point? Why do you need both? Why pay an extra $25?

  22. Tyro

    I just got back from a 50km trail race where I wore my new Minimus Trails and they performed marvellously. The grip was better than I expected, they drained water very quickly and had enough ground feel to make them fun even after five hours even after runs on harsh rocks and roots. Best of all, I don't have the sort of cramping and muscle pains that bothered me after long runs in my Sportiva Crosslites. Based on this, I have no hesitation in picking them as my go-to shoe for some upcoming 50 milers.

    If you have put in the time to build up your muscles & tendons to use a forefoot strike, the Minimus is an excellent shoe for ultras – I certainly wouldn't keep them as merely a training shoe.

    As always, pick what works best for you but don't dismiss these shoes out of hand, they're not just some toy.

  23. Brad

    I finally got my Minimus trail shoes as well and I have only managed to take them out on 2 2-mile runs. But my initial impressions are they feel really light and fast. I have MT101s as well but already I prefer the Minimus. The only comment I would say is that I feel most everything, even smaller rocks make a pronounced impression when I step on them. And I agree, they are grippier than I would have thought since they don't have blatant lugs like most other trail shoes.

  24. Adam

    I got the Trail Glove and immediately went for an 8 miler. I'm usually a barefooter, but am planning an Ultra in May on some rugged trail that I know I cannot handle without shoes. I have KSOs, but the grass and rocks between the toes thing isn't my favorite, so I thought I'd try the Trail Gloves.

    I have to say I am frustrated. First 4 miles were great, feeling fast and though it took some effort to groove on shod running again, I found it and was flowing. Then I felt what I thought was a thorn in my toe, but when I removed the shoe I saw it was actually a blister working on the outside of my pinky toe just behind the nail. Didn't think much of it, thought I'd just pay attention and try to reduce "wiggle" up there. About a mile later I noticed a slight rubbing directly under my arches, where my sweaty feet had created a slippery surface on which to flex. I know I have the right size, I could not go smaller/tighter at all. To me it's just the design of the shoe…the buly buildup around the midfoot makes it difficult for the shoe to flex naturally with my foot. My VFFs are much more pliable at this part of the shoe and don't give me any trouble.

    I'm going to try with a thin pair of cycling socks, but I'll admit I'm frustrated by having to wear socks at all.

  25. Viktor

    Hi Adam (and of course all others who've tried the Trail Glove),

    Tom said in his review:

    "The surprising thing about the Trail Glove is that it does have a 1 mm forefoot shock absorption plate to protect from rocks. This plate is not noticeable and does not hinder flexibility at all in the shoe."

    Did you have the same experience with the Trail Glove?

    Yesterday I went to a store to try on the Trail Glove myself, and after walking around for a few minutes I started noticing an uncomfortable pressure below the balls of my feet. I had the impression that the shock absorption plate sort of concentrated too much pressure on too small an area, not allowing me to properly distribute it over a wider area.

    I also felt that there was a "gap" between the forefoot and the toes, probably because there are no lugs on the outsole in this area. At least during the short time I tried them on this proved to be somewhat distracting, though this might improve with more time..

    Thanks,

    Viktor

    1. Adam

      Viktor,

      The part that didn't seem to flex as naturally to me was the mid-foot or under the arch. It wasn't actually noticeable while running, as my arch flexed naturally itself and the shoe simply didn't move with it, but it caused the blister.

      Regardless, I hear what you are saying. I remember feeling pretty funny about them on the hard floor of my kitchen when I first tried them on, but they were returnable (yay REI) so I figured I would give them a shot on trail first. Once on the trail they don't feel quite as funny, and after breaking in they feel significantly better. I have now done about 35 miles in them.

      Contrast it with this: My wife has the same length as foot as me, so she tried mine on (after 35 miles) and said she wanted a pair. I brought the new pair home just last night and when she tried them on and was horrified. Where mine had "flattened" underneath the toebox hers felt "lumpy" in all the wrong places. I tried to tell her that mine had 35 miles of running by a 190 lb man on Rocky Mountain trails, but she was still upset.

      If you intend to use these for road I would caution you away. The rugged sole makes them feel pretty odd to me on the road, and I MUCH prefer my Vibran KSOs for that (if wearing a shoe, which I rarely do). Because I use the Merrels only for trails, I don't feel the gap that you speak of, either, nor do I feel any unevenness in the sole at all anymore.

      The forefoot actually is pretty flexible for how protective it is, but it is stiffer than VFFs or, of course, barefoot. With the room in the toebox, though, I felt I could sufficiently dorsiflex my toes and move them all about. Overall they're nice shoes, and I will keep them for my long, Rocky Mountain trail runs. I'm hoping that some more breakin with socks and I will be able to wear them without socks.

      I still run barefoot 95% of the time because we don't have many trails, but on trails the Merrells will fit the bill.

      1. Viktor

        Hi Adam,

        Thanks for your quick reply and useful comments!

        I didn't notice any problems with the arch, but I just wore them for a few minutes and was more concentrated on that "lumpy" feeling underfoot.

        Your experience of the EVA under the midfoot flattening quite quickly sounds promising. It also matches what Jesse Scott wrote in his review:

        "The only negative points I can make about the fit is an issue that arises when the shoe is brand new. The EVA sole has slightly thicker portions in the midfoot that feel a bit…lumpy. The shoe feels just a little uneven when standing in them. This nearly disappears when running, and absolutely fades with some breaking in. After less than 100 miles, the shoes conformed to my feet and felt like a worn in pair of slippers." (http://jscott87.blogspot.com/2011/02/merrell-trail-glove-review.html)

        I did not notice the gap when stepping down, just while rolling off. However it was only slightly odd, rather than uncomfortable or anything, so I think I could get used to it. All in all I am considering giving the shoe a second chance.

        Just to clarify:

        I do not intend to run in these shoes, I'm just looking for a comfortable minimalist shoe for everyday use and traveling. I've been using a pair VFF Classics for the past two years and they were great for everyday use and as a second shoe while traveling around the UK and Nepal.

        However, while I will continue using them, I would also like to get another shoe more suitable for the colder and wetter periods of the year.

        Unfortunately, most of the minimalist shoes that are currently produced are quite hard to find here in Switzerland. If they are available somewhere, they are quite often ridiculously overpriced. For example, a pair of VFF classics costs about 175US$, while the Trail Glove at 150$ is at least closer to the actual exchange rate..

        1. Adam

          Egads that's expensive! Ok, so, if you are not running in them then I don't know. I'm a die-hard barefoot and minimal guy, though, so my impression is probably different than many others…that said, have you looked at the New Balance Minimus? I know the 4mm heel rise puts me off, but perhaps it's minimal enough for you? The other shoe I would look seriously at is the Vivo Barefoot Aqua. I have a couple of pairs of Vivo Barefoots (not the aqua) and seriously love them. In fact, Terra Plana shoes have some in their line that are not Vivos that are pretty minimalist as well. I would definitely check them out.

          My wife wanted the Merrells more for hiking than running, but I think she will be taking them back as she is so offput by the lumpiness that she can't get over it. Running is one thing, especially on trails, but walking around town is a whole other thing. I vastly prefer flip flops for all around town or my Vivo Barefoots for when I need a closed toe shoe. I don't think I would personally like the Merrells. They are too constricting and, yes, lumpy. It works on a trail and for running, but for walking notsomuch.

          Others might disagree, though, and some vehemently. This is just my, personal sentiment about these shoes.

          1. Viktor

            The problem with both the Minimus and the Terra Plana shoes is, that they are nowhere to be found here in Switzerland. I'd rather try the locally available alternatives before having to order from abroad, which would make an eventual return quite costly. I tried finding some Vivo Barefoots during my UK tour last summer, but couldn't find them anywhere.

            I used to walk barefoot quite a lot during the summer in school etc. and still enjoy doing so in my free time. I know a guy who walks around town barefoot the whole year, and neither snow, ice nor broken bottles seem to concern him in the least. I am not that hardcore however, and need some protection and especially insulation for the bigger part of the year.

            Occasionally, a less flashy shoe would also be welcome, it is kind of distracting when one's footwear (or the lack thereof) seems to be capturing more interest than the presentation slides.

            The Trail Gloves they had in store where basically brand new, so I think I will just go back there next week or so and try them on a bit longer, before making my decision.

            Like you said, running and walking around town are not the same thing, but there aren't too many casual / street-oriented options around in general and especially not around here. Considering the recent development and seemingly ever-increasing interest in this area of footwear, I am hoping this will change in the near future, though this doesn't help that much right now..

            Thanks again for your input!

  26. Kyle

    Well, I'm a barefoot kinda guy, but I'm using the Five Fingers for jagged trails. I tried the Minimus and the tread started coming off the sole at mile 10; not a strong enough shoe for rough terrain. I got four miles in on my Gloves before dark tonight and impressions are grand, but we'll see how they endure tomorrow.

  27. Cory Birdsong

    Loved the review! Has helped me in deciding my next pair of trail shoes. I currently run in the NB Minimus Road for street use, but upon reading both this review and the NB MT101 review, I think the 101 is gonna give me a bit more protection on the trail than the minimus while still being a light shoe.

    Cory

  28. Carl Peterson

    The unevenness of the soles is a big problem for me. I run in Vibram Flows, Asics Piranhas, and Brooks Green Silence. All of these shoes permit a pure toe strike. The Trail Glove has extra padding just behind the ball of the foot, so when I try to strike with my toes, that padding hits first and changes my stride. It ends up causing knee pain. I'm 140 lbs and don't typically have knee pain, but these shoes caused it in just 10 miles.

  29. Heppa

    My husband tried both Merrel Glove and NB Minimus Trail. He has been running in 5 Fingers or totally barefoot, alternating with traditional sneakers. He found the Minimus much more barefoot like, did not even care to go on a long run in the Merrels.

    I have been jogging (on asphalt roads) in the Minimus for 2 months alternating with FFingers and Feelmax Osmas and really like the Minimus a lot. I just tried a pair of the Merrils in the store and did not like how the arch was narrow and shaped, it bothered me.

  30. Leslie Ann

    If you would not recommend either of these shoes for trails with rocks, what would u recommend for rocky trails? I'm trying to find a good lightweight trail shoe that can take rocky trails, like a nice compromise between vibrams FF and regular shoes. I thought these would be that perfect compromise, but not if they can't stand up to rocks!

    (I hope you will still respond to this comment!!)

    1. Bryon Powell

      It depends what you're looking for. Are you mostly looking for lightweight or are you looking for a minimal structure/low drop shoe? If you don't mind something a bit more akin to a normal shoe, the New Balance MT101 is a great compromise. It's light, rather flexible, and has a rock plate for rock protection.

      1. Mike Place

        I second Bryon's opinion. The MT101 is an absolutely brilliant shoe and a total blast to run in. You'll certainly feel the rocks but they don't hurt all that much. (At least, I don't think so.)

            1. Tim Barnes

              The next notch up would definitely be the 101(and a fantastic choice), perhaps an Inov-8 190. If you go up just a little bit more in weight and shoe volume, the options open up to things like Montrail's Rogue Racer, Pearl's Peak II, and the soon to be released Lone Peak from Altra. Then if yr talking just lightweight . . . hop on that Bondi B.

              run quietly my friends

              P.S. Two days ago, my right foot had the pleasure of putting on a sample of the NB 110. It savored the moment. So sweet. 6 month count down starts now.

            2. Leslie Ann

              you guys are just full of great recommendations! here's a tough one: I know alot of these shoes are made just for men… are any of them available in women's versions/sizes?

  31. Tim Barnes

    The 101, Rogue Racer, Peak II, and Lone Peak come in women specific fits.

    I am not sure about the Bondi B. Most Inov-8 are unisex.

    1. BRad

      Is there a place I can see some pics of the NB 110 you are referring to in your previous post? If not, what is this shoe? I have not heard of nor seen any info regarding it.

      Thanks,

      BRad

      1. Tim Barnes

        No pics, sorry. The 110 is the new overhaul of the 101 that will hit at the beginning of 2012, along with a new range of shoes called minimus zero (zero drop). The 110 will shock and blow some minds!

  32. Travis Lewis

    I have the Merrell Trail Glove, and my preference is to run in them with no-show socks. I have tried sock-less, and was able to do a 10k trail run without blisters, but I didn't like how the material felt against my skin. JMHO

  33. CH

    The biggest difference in the Minimus trail and the 101's is rockstop. The 101's have the rockstop which protects the feet more but also makes the shoe a tad bit heavier. For someone running on really, really jagged trails I would recommend the 101's simply because they have the rockstop in them. I still love my Minimus trail though :)

  34. Casey

    i just completed my first warrior dash mud run and absolutely loved it. i wore a really olf pair of traditional running shoes that became very heavy when wet/muddy. they were completely ruined after the race so i tossed them. i'm planning to do more adventure mud runs in the future. i had a few friends run in VFFs and they swear by them. they said they washed them and they were good as new. i read several reviewers say that the VFFs are not real durable and some have broken toes due to the separation. can you recommend a good shoe for mud runs? something that won't absorb water, can handle various terrain (mud, rock, roots, etc…), and can be cleaned up and reused after the race. i've read a lot about the mt10, mt101, and still considering the VFF treksport.

    thanks for your help,

  35. Andy

    I live in the UK, and I reviewed the trail glove, nb minimus and VFF so help uk buyers choose a shoe that suits our trails. http://www.caveman-clarke.blogspot.com
    I found the trail gloves to be the best, they are amazing. Grip and price let vibrams down a little. But all the shoes are excellent in their own right.

    Brilliant review, it convinced me to try them in the first place and I now have the best pair of shoes I have ever owned.

    Cheers:-)
    CavemanClarke

  36. Chip

    I ran the living history farms off road race in urbandale Iowa (7 mile crosscountry/offroad with creek crossings and varying surfaces). I ran it in a two year old pair of VFF KSO's. They performed great, except for some of the slippery uphill areas after a creek crossings. These KSO's have the most minimal of soles, not the soles like the trek sports with the more substantial traction soles. Anyway your friends were right… I hosed the VFF's off to get the bulk of the dirt/mud off prior to washing (cold water wash, air dry) and good as new.

    They're great shoes for sure. I also run regularly on pavement and just now are these shoes showing signs of real wear and getting thin spots on the soles at the balls of my feet (just shy of two years old).

    anyway good luck.

    junyr73 at G mail. c o m

    Chip

  37. Outi

    I have given up on My New Balance minimus trail ones and don't run in them any more. They hurt now. I am so happy with my VVF Bikila's that I don't want to run in anything else. I am going to snow country next week and am at loss what to wear for running. My Feelmax boots' sole is coming apart and won't hold water out anymore and I really don't want ANY elevation of the heel nor ANY kind of shaping for the arch, just something thin to keep the water our and some protection for rocks etc but warm enough to run in snow?

  38. Tony Escalona

    I have a pair of the Merrell Trail Glove shoes that I run in here Afghanistan. Ran the Army 10 Miler shadow runs, and a Half Marathon in them with no issues even with the rocks here, these shoes are great. I recommended them to my Soldiers that were having problems running. Great product!

  39. Bob Bates

    I've got both shoes and have enjoyed them. The New Balance offer a little more protection for sure but for some reason, I feel like I have less achilles issues with the Trail Gloves. Go figure. Seems backwards. BTW – I ran the Tough Mudder in Squaw Valley this year (13 mi), lot's of rocks and the Trail Gloves were awesome. Some little sore spots on the feet but the rocks were pretty intense so overall, it seemed reasonable. For Tough Mudder type races, where you are wet the entire time, these kind of shoes seemed perfect.

  40. Caesar

    Hi there, I have a question.

    I normally wear 10.5 sized shoes. While my VFF are 41 and of course there is no space at all. Say I want to get the new balance minimus trail either the mt10 or mt20 as a trail shoe where I dont trust my VFF. How should I select the size?

    Thanks in advance for your reply(ies)

    1. Andy Clarke

      I think new balance come up very small so you have to buy a whole size larger than normally you would wear. I'm a UK 9 in VFF, 10 in trail gloves and 11 in Minimus. Remember the new zero Minimus is now out. I have a pair and they are awesome, maybe try them if you want minimal, they are lighter than most VFF.

      CavemanClarke

      1. Caesar

        Thanks for replying,

        I was originally looking at the MT10 or MT20, I am starting to train for a marathon in october, it will be my fisrt ever. Currently I am transitioning to VFFs (Komodos ls sized 41) but I dont trust my self to run in them in the trails around here, so I need something that can be good on trails and road (cant afford two pairs right now) although since I dont think I can run a marathon on th VFF, I was considering later on the year to get the NB minimus road.

        I was running with Nike´s lunarglide (first version, and yes they are confortable but after 3 weeks on the VFF my knee pain is gone, tried to run in the Nikes last week, pains got back and it didnt feel right).

        Problem with New Balance is that they dont offer any customer support on their website, for example VFF offer the sizing table. While in NB they offer them in at least 2 types D or 2EE, but there are no tips or sizing charts or anything.

        what do you think?? can you give me your opinion on this?

        Thanks in advance!

  41. Andy Clarke

    Hi Caesar

    I live in the UK and we don't have the width options here, so I have them in D width, both the MT10 and the MT00. I may be able to drop a half size if they were wider (2E) but that is only speculation. I find them very comfortable in D even though I have a perfect fit in the VFF's so thought wider would be better, I don't know. It leaves room for swelling on longer runs without having your toe at the end of the shoe.

    As for MT20, they never came to the UK and I have heard mixed opinions. Many main shoe reviewers didn't even bother reviewing them for some reason. I think they are a half way house towards the MT00 that NB have been working on for a while, to try out the new materials etc. My instincts say to go for the popular and trail proven MT10 or the new MT00 and leave out the MT20's as they seem less popular, with some reviewing them as not a great shoe in comparison to other models.

    If you are road running then get the roads, although they are heavier and I haven't tried them – I run 90% trails so don't need road shoes. Also, the MT10 have had a few road miles on them and they were excellent so if its a mixture, get the trails not the roads.

    NB will exchange if you get the wrong size and don't wear them outside, so I would go up 1 size from trail gloves and if they are slightly too big/small, exchange for next size up/down.

    Hope this helps? Let me know

    CavemanClarke

  42. Andrew

    I have a similar question to Leslie Ann above. The trails I run on are very hardpacked dirt littered with lots of small sharp volcanic rocks. I try using my VFFs but my feet hurt like hell – there is just no way to avoid them all. The thing is, New Balance are not releasing the MT110 here in New Zealand!!! (nor did they the MT101). So for me, I think it is between the Merrell Trail Glove or the NB MT10, both of which we can get. Or maybe something else that is more akin to the MT110?

    Any advice?

    1. Bryon Powell

      Andrew, I'd say the MT110 is more protective and more substantial than either the MTG or MT10. Aside from the rockplate, the lugs end up enhancing the protection. The only issue might be the volcanic rocks ripping the heck out of the exposed EVA in the midfoot. That'll wear whatever the terrain, but it might be excessive on exposed volcanic rock.

      1. Andrew

        Thanks for the reply Bryon. The 110s are the ones I would like, however they are not being released here in NZ :(

        So it is Trail Gloves or Minimus for me. But different people above have said different ones offer more protection. Or perhaps that just means the two are so similar so I should get the one that feels most comfy in the shop.

        I should also mention that I am not an ultra runner (yet). My runs are between 45mins – 1.5 hours

  43. Paul Jones

    Thanks for the excellent review!

    I've been running in Vibram FF KSOs and Bikila's for the road for two years now, with Komodo Sports in the gym, and have completed 10 5k – 10k obstacle races (Spartan, Warrior Dash etc). I'm not unfamiliar with zero drop shoes.

    My last race though, I slipped coming down a hill in my KSOs and nearly broke my toe on a tree stump – so I'm looking to wear something with a little more structure for my future races (I still love the Vibram FFs for road and gym use).

    I bought the Inov-8s Roclite 285's (the bright red ones), but the toe box was too narrow for me and my big toe rubbed – they are being returned and I'm shopping for new, trail, minimalist shoes to wear to Tough Mudder.

    Do you recommend the trail gloves or the minimus range for someone in my position? I'm leaning towards the wider, zero drop trail gloves.

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