Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review
The Trail Glove is my favorite all-round Minimalist shoe. It's not as light as the Mizuno Wave Universe, but it's a little more comfortable and lasts a lot longer. The fourth version has larger changes than the earlier Merrell Trail Glove 3, which was only a cosmetic change. If you're looking for a shoe that minimalist, but offers more protection and a little more cushioning than a true barefoot shoe like the excellent Merrell Vapor Glove, I think this should be on your shopping list. While this is the Trail version, I find it's ideal for Road use as the outsole is not aggressive, and I prefer it over the Merrell Road Glove. If you're after a more barefoot running shoe, then check out its sibling, the Merrell Vapor Glove. I wear the trail glove and vapor glove for most of my walking training, even when wearing a heavy pack. I only swap to hiking boots when I need to keep my feet dry for extended periods, or when I'm over really gnarly ground. The Trail Glove is also a nice shoe for casual driving, though I prefer the Vapor Glove (neither are fire retardant for competitive driving.) (I use The Science of Running Shoes as the basis of how I test running shoes and what you should look for in a running shoe.)
1 Cushioning, Running Economy, & Performance
There is scientific evidence that a little cushioning can improve Running Economy, which means it takes less effort to run at the same pace. The Trail Glove shoe does not offer enough cushioning to provide that increase in, so you'll probably be slower than you would be in a slightly more cushioned shoe.
- Mizuno Wave Universe, but rather more robust. I generally prefer a little more cushioning than this for efficient running, but occasionally I'll use this shoe to train my biomechanics. . There is almost no cushioning on the Trail Glove. There is a tiny bit of foam, and the outsole will give a little, but this is a true minimalist shoe. It's a similar level of cushioning to the incredibly light
- . The Trail Glove is zero-drop, as you'd expect (but don't always get) from a Minimalist shoe.
- . Because there's no cushioning, there's no scope for multiple densities of foam. The Trail Glove wraps the arch area, but doesn't provide any "arch support" to cause problems.
- . The Trail Glove is very flexible when compared to most other shoes but it's outsole does mean there is some slight resistance to flex.
- RMAT outsole, but that's an unusual material. . There is harder rubber over the entire contact patch of the Trail Glove. While this is marketed as a trail shoe, the outsole has only slight lugs and limited grip in soft or muddy trails. I've found the rubber is hard wearing and provides sufficient stickiness. I have found that it's not as grippy on slick or slimy rock has a Hoka with
- cut open the toe box. . The Trail Glove is nicely shaped, and one of the few shoes where I don't have to
- . The upper is a little thicker than many shoes, but breaths acceptably well. There is no padding in the upper, but few seams and overall, I've found the Trail Glove to be quite comfortable. The fourth version has a little more padding around the ankle opening than its predecessor, but it's a fairly minor change.
- . The tongue is probably the area of greatest change with this version of the Trail Glove. It's a little unusual in that the tongue is a continuation of the upper on the inside of the shoe, rather than a separate tongue. There is a small elasticated ribbon that ties the outside (lateral) side of the tongue to the edge of the insole. This holds everything in place without any intrusion. I've found this works rather well, having seen it, I wonder why other shoes made like this.
- . The laces are flat, traditional laces, the work a little better than the previous versions slightly rounded laces.
- . Thankfully, there's not a traditional heel counter, just a thing strip of reinforcement that doesn't do much.
This review was made possible by readers like you buying products via my links. I buy all the products I review through normal retail channels, which allows me to create unbiased reviews free from the influence of reciprocity, or the need to keep vendors happy. It also ensures I don't get "reviewer specials" that are better than the retail versions.
3 Trail Glove Evolution
For those that are curious, is a visual comparison of all four generations of the trail glove.
4 A Comparison with other Recommended Shoes
If you're looking for "the best of the best" running shoe, here are my top picks. Of course, the answer will depend a little on what you're looking for, so I have recommendations for various categories.
For a more detailed on running shoes see the Recommendations for Best Running Shoes. This table lists the key attributes of What to Look for in Running Shoes. For more detailed information, on the shoes see detailed shoe comparison.
|Saucony Type A Review||Saucony||A/A7||Recommended||$100||6.0||6.7||12.1||19||22||1||4.1||7|
|Saucony Type A6 Review||Saucony||A6||Highly Recommended||$100||7.7||6.1||9.5||17||21||4||4.7||7|
|Saucony Type A8 Review||Saucony||A8||Highly Recommended||$90||7.1||6.2||9.7||19||20||-1||4.4||7|
|Adidas Adios Boost 2 Review||Adidas||Adios||Worth considering||$140||4.4||8.6||13.4||17||27||11||3.8||6|
|Hoka Bondi 5 Review||Hoka||Bondi||Recommended||$150||5.7||11.6||18.1||38||42||5||6.7||2|
|Hoka Clayton 2 Review||Hoka||Clayton2||Highly Recommended||$150||8.6||8.3||12.9||23||28||1||7.1||5|
|Hoka Clifton 4 Review||Hoka||Clifton4||Worth considering||$130||7.2||9.3||14.5||30||35||10||6.7||3|
|ON Cloudflash Review||On Cloud||Cloudflash||Worth considering||$180||4.2||8.3||14.6||19||26||7||3.5||6|
|On Cloudracer Review||On Cloud||Cloudracer||Worth considering||$130||5.4||8.2||12.8||19||27||5||4.4||7|
|ON Cloud X Review||On Cloud||CloudX||Not recommended||$140||4.3||8.3||16.3||21||27||7||3.6||7|
|Mizuno Wave Cruise Review||Mizuno||Cruise||Worth considering||$120||6.3||5.9||12.5||17||20||7||3.7||6|
|Newton Distance IV Review||Newton||Distance||Worth considering||$155||7.1||9.1||14.2||26||31||3||6.4||5|
|Asics Gel DS Racer 10 Review||Asics||DS Racer||Worth considering||$110||7.8||7.0||10.9||21||26||6||5.4||5|
|Altra Duo Review||Altra||Duo||Recommended||$130||5.6||8.4||13.1||29||29||1||4.7||5|
|Mizuno Wave Ekiden 8 Review||Mizuno||Ekiden||Worth considering||$115||5.3||5.7||14.6||13||18||6||3.0||8|
|Saucony Endorphin 2 Review||Saucony||Endorphin 2||Worth considering||$115||7.5||5.1||9.6||15||13||-1||3.8||8|
|Adidas Energy Boost Review||Adidas||Energy||Worth considering||$160||6.8||10.0||15.6||20||30||7||6.8||5|
|Altra Escalante Review||Altra||Escalante||Best of the Best||$130||8.6||8.7||13.5||28||25||-1||7.5||6|
|Saucony Fastwitch Review||Saucony||Fastwitch||Highly Recommended||$90||9.0||7.1||11.1||20||22||4||6.4||7|
|Topo Fli-Lyte 2 Review||Topo||Fli-Lyte2||Highly Recommended||$100||6.4||9.1||14.2||24||26||3||5.8||5|
|Reebok Floatride Run Review||Reebok||Floatride||Worth considering||$150||7.2||9.6||14.9||28||34||10||7.0||5|
|Saucony Freedom Review||Saucony||Freedom||Recommended||$160||5.1||10.7||16.6||25||29||3||5.4||6|
|Skechers GORun 4 Review||Skechers||GORun||Not recommended||$100||5.7||7.5||11.7||15||23||3||4.3||7|
|Skechers GOrun Ultra 2 Review||Skechers||GRU||Worth considering||$90||7.1||10.0||15.6||28||34||8||7.1||4|
|Asics GT 2000 Review||Asics||GT 2000||Not recommended||$120||4.5||11.2||17.4||28||35||5||5.1||2|
|New Balance Hanzo S Review||New Balance||Hanzo||Worth considering||$110||7.1||6.9||10.7||21||19||2||4.9||5|
|Hoka Hupana Review||Hoka||Hupana||Recommended||$115||5.7||8.9||13.9||31||36||7||5.1||4|
|Asics Gel Hyper Speed 7 Review||Asics||Hyper Speed||Highly Recommended||$75||10.2||6.3||9.8||22||26||5||6.4||6|
|Altra Instinct 4.0 Review||Altra||Instinct 4.0||Worth considering||$120||5.7||9.8||15.3||29||25||-1||5.6||5|
|Asics Tarther Kainos 3 Review||Asics||Kainos||Worth considering||$130||9.4||6.9||10.7||17||27||9||6.4||6|
|Altra King MT 1.5 Review||Altra||King MT||Recommended||$140||4.1||10.7||20.8||19||21||-1||4.4||5|
|Saucony Kinvara 8 Review||Saucony||Kinvara 8||Best of the Best||$110||8.8||8.6||13.4||26||31||3||7.5||5|
|Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Review||Altra||Lone Peak||Highly Recommended||$120||4.9||11.4||17.7||23||25||-2||5.6||4|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 3 Review||Nike||LT3||Best of the Best||$80||8.3||5.4||8.4||16||21||4||4.5||5|
|Nike Zoom Streak LT 4 Review||Nike||LT4||Recommended||$90||9.2||5.5||8.5||15||21||5||5.0||7|
|Nike LunarSpider R5 Review||Nike||LunarSpider||Recommended||$125||6.5||6.7||10.4||17||21||3||4.3||6|
|Hoka Mafate Speed Review||Hoka||Mafate||Highly Recommended||$170||7.1||11.9||18.5||39||40||4||8.5||1|
|Pearl Izumi EM Road N0 v2 Review||Pearl||N0||Highly Recommended||$100||7.5||6.5||10.1||14||20||4||4.9||8|
|Saucony Nomad Review||Saucony||Nomad||Worth considering||$110||4.1||10.5||17.2||25||27||2||4.3||4|
|Hoka Odyssey Review||Hoka||Odyssey||Highly Recommended||$130||8.0||9.4||14.6||37||45||5||7.5||3|
|Altra Olympus 2.5 Review||Altra||Olympus||Highly Recommended||$150||6.9||11.8||18.4||34||34||2||8.2||3|
|Altra One 3.0 Review||Altra||One||Recommended||$100||5.8||8.8||13.7||23||23||0||5.1||6|
|Altra Paradigm 4.0 Review||Altra||Paradigm||Highly Recommended||$150||3.6||11.0||17.1||28||30||3||4.0||9|
|Asics Piranha SP 5 Review||Asics||Piranha||Recommended||$100||13.1||4.2||6.5||11||15||5||5.5||8|
|Brooks PureFlow 5 Review||Brooks||PureFlow||Worth considering||$110||4.3||9.7||15.1||26||29||4||4.2||6|
|Salming Race Review||Salming||Race||Worth considering||$130||7.1||6.5||10.1||16||19||5||4.6||8|
|Altra Escalante Racer Review||Altra||Racer||Highly Recommended||$140||7.1||7.6||11.8||24||26||6||5.4||7|
|New Balance RC1600 v2 Review||New Balance||RC1600||Highly Recommended||$110||8.4||5.6||8.7||15||21||6||4.7||8|
|New Balance RC5000v2 Review||New Balance||RC5000v2||Best of the Best||$125||17.6||4.0||6.2||13||21||4||7.0||7|
|Skechers GoRun Ride 3 Review||Skechers||Ride||Worth considering||$85||4.6||8.5||18.9||18||28||3||3.9||8|
|Nike RN Distance 2 Review||Nike||RNDist2||Worth considering||$120||8.7||9.2||14.3||25||28||3||8.0||4|
|Inov-8 RoadXTreme 220 Review||Inov-8||RXT-220||Worth considering||$120||6.6||8.0||12.5||14||17||1||5.3||6|
|Salomon Sense Ride Review||Salomon||Sense||Worth considering||$120||5.7||10.0||15.6||24||29||0||5.7||7|
|Altra Solstice Review||Altra||Solstice||Highly Recommended||$90||9.9||8.1||12.5||23||25||6||8.0||0|
|Topo ST-2 Review||Topo||ST-2||Highly Recommended||$90||7.3||7.3||11.4||20||18||0||5.4||5|
|Hoka Stinson Lite Review||Hoka||Stinson||Highly Recommended||$160||4.1||11.6||18.1||35||40||4||4.8||5|
|Altra Superior||Altra||Superior||Highly Recommended||$110||6.3||9.9||15.5||22||25||2||6.2||3|
|Adidas Takumi Sen 3 Review||Adidas||Takumi Sen 3||Highly Recommended||$160||7.9||6.6||10.2||17||21||-1||5.2||4|
|Topo Terraventure||Topo||Terraventure||Review Pending||$110||4.6||10.8||16.8||24||24||2||5.0||5|
|Altra Timp Review||Altra||Timp||Best of the Best||$130||2.3||11.6||28.8||30||31||0||2.7||10|
|Altra Torin 2.0 Review||Altra||Torin||Worth considering||$125||4.2||9.6||14.9||31||25||-1||4.1||6|
|Hoka Tracer Review||Hoka||Tracer||Recommended||$130||4.2||7.4||17.3||22||24||1||3.1||9|
|Merrell Trail Glove 4 Review||Merrell||Trail Glove 4||Best of the Best||$100||6.0||8.4||13.1||13||13||0||5.1||8|
|Topo Tribute Review||Topo||Tribute||Recommended||$100||1.7||7.3||29.5||20||18||0||1.2||10|
|Mizuno Wave Universe 5 Review||Mizuno||Universe||Highly Recommended||$125||22.9||3.1||4.8||9||12||8||7.1||2|
|Altra Vanish-R Review||Altra||Vanish-R||Recommended||$100||9.2||5.3||8.2||19||21||6||4.9||5|
|Merrell Vapor Glove 3 Review||Merrell||Vapor Glove 3||Highly Recommended||$85||10.6||6.1||9.5||6||5||9||6.4||6|
|Nike Vaporfly 4% Review||Nike||Vaporfly||Best of the Best||$250||11.1||7.2||11.2||25||37||4||8.0||6|
|New Balance Vazee Pace Review||New Balance||Vazee Pace||Worth considering||$110||7.9||8.6||0.0||18||24||8||6.8||3|
|Asics TartherZeal 3 Review||Asics||Zeal||Worth considering||$140||10.3||6.3||0.0||17||27||1||6.4||5|
|Saucony Zealot 3 Review||Saucony||Zealot3||Recommended||$130||6.0||9.5||0.0||29||32||0||5.7||7|
|Nike Zoom Fly Review||Nike||Zoom Fly||Worth considering||$150||6.6||8.7||0.0||29||36||-1||5.7||7|
It's not a running shoe, but I love the Hoka Tor Ultra hiking boot and I've tested the Altra Lone Peak Boot, the Hoka Tor Speed 2, and the Inov-8 Roclite 325 hiking boots
Older shoe reviews: Saucony Hattori Review, Mizuno Cursoris Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, Hoka Clifton Review, Saucony Virrata 2 Review, Brooks PureCadence 3 Review, Brooks PureConnect 3 Review, Brooks PureFlow 3 Review, Skechers GO Bionic 2 Review, New Balance 980 Review, Brooks Transcend 2 Review, Hoka Huaka Review, Patagonia EVERlong Review, Asics 33-DFA Review, Hoka Conquest Review, Saucony Cortana Review, Puma Faas 100 R Review, Saucony Fastwitch Review, Nike Free Review, Asics Gel Lyte 33 Review, Skechers GOmeb Speed Review, Skechers GOrun Ultra Road Review, Nike LunaRacer Review, Altra Paradigm Review.