Overall Rating: 4/5
After receiving my Merrell Vapor Gloves and beginning my forefoot journey I discovered a problem. Whilst I really enjoyed the weight of the Vapor Glove it was contributing to some lower leg pain. This was not the fault of the shoe and very much the fault of my expanding girth during the early winter months. I began to look into a slightly more cushioned ride than the Vapor Gloves and stumbled across a number of reviews of the Trail Glove. A significant number of runners seemed to have taken these shoes on as their road shoes due to the additional cushioning. Compared to the Vapor Glove with it’s 6.5mm stack height (this refers to the forefoot and heel thicknesses of the sole, put simply the amount of material between your foot and the ground) the Trail Glove comes in at 11.5mm. This additional cushioning brings additional weight with the shoe weighing in at 230g compared to 172 for the Vapor Glove. As a zero drop shoe there is no difference between the stack height of the heel and the forefoot.
As I took to the road the difference in cushioning was immediately noticeable and whilst the reinforced upper had slightly less comfort than that of the Vapor Glove it was immediately comfortable to run in. The toe box was roomy and it still allowed for that barefoot feel which I enjoyed so much with the Vapor Glove.
The Vibram TC5+ outsole of the Trail Glove 4 is durable and flexible without compromising the minimalist feel of the shoe. The trail glove helps eliminate some of my one footed, swearing, dance moves that I perfected in the Vapor Glove as with the Trail Glove you don’t recieve a sharp jolt of pain when you inadvertanrtly place your foot on a small stone. This is due to the Trail Protect pad which is between the midsole and the outsole of the shoe. It’s “sole” purpose (get it?) is to provide underfoot protection from rough or sharp objects. It certainly has led to less f’in’ and jeffin’ from me!
The midsole is made from a compression molded EVA foam which is lightweight but adds a surprising amount of comfort. The Microfibre Footbed incorporates M-Select Fresh which is designed to keep your foot dry and odour free. My experience is that it’s not particularly effective as they stink like any other pair of trainers after extended use but it was worth a try Merrell!
The upper is synthetic mesh wish keeps the shoe light and it has some reinforcement to provide additional durability. It’s a comfortable upper with some flexibility and plenty of room for natural movement.
Disappointingly the comfort of the shoe lasted only about a week as one of the shoes features led to some issues. The trainer has an elasticated band inside to help keep the tongue of the shoe in place but this quickly became contorted and uncomfortable. The edges of the band curled and rubbed with every step. This negatively affected the overall rating of the comfort but could be easily resolved by Merrell or with scissors!
As the shoe isn’t specifically designed with the road in mind my testing on the moors gave the shoe a good trail workout. The traction was great on dry trails but should carry a health warning for wet rock or mud as the grip is not hugely quite so effective in the wet. That may seem obvious as it doesn’t have lugs of an X-Talon but it is a close to a minimalist feel in a trail shoe that you can get so if you’re not set on the most rugged or trail runs then this is perfect for more “pedestrian” routes.
Overall the shoe gets a four star rating and is a great option for any runner seeking a minimalist shoe that works on dry trails and the road lets just hope any future updated models remove the unnecessary band.