Merrell Trail Glove 4 Reviewed for Performance and Quality

Barefoot trail running shoes grant runners a more natural stride than traditional running shoes. This shoes typically do not have any heel-to-toe drop. In contrast, conventional running shoes usually have a 10-12mm heel-to-toe drop. The former, though, is beneficial because it inhibits heel-first landings, and instead allows the runner to land first on the balls of their feet. As a result of this, the runner’s body is in better alignment, and they can worry less about placing undue stress on their knees and back. The Merrell Trail Glove 4 is comfortable and protective shoe for trail running. It can reasonably protect a runner traversing a trail, without bogging them down. It has also been designed to lend to its runner a great deal of ground sensitivity. 

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Holabird Sports Link
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Where to Buy
Holabird Sports Link
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Pros & Cons
  • In keeping with its namesake, truly does fit like a glove
  • Does not sacrifice responsivity, or natural feel for protection
  • Provides adequate protection for trail running
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible
  • Anatomically correct
  • Cons
    • Does poorly on long distance or fast runs
    • May not provide adequate arch support for some runners
    • Lacks ankle support
    • Key Features
      Italy’s award-winning manufacturer made the outsole of the Merrell Trail Glove 4, Vibram. Constructed of lightweight rubber, the outsole is both responsiveness, and durable. It also works to guard the runner’s feet against the rocks and different objects that may appear along with a trail.
      The Midsole of the Merrell Trail Glove 4 is constructed of EVA foam. The midsole is a minimal one. Some runners may insist that it doesn’t provide enough cushioning. It does, however, grant the shoe a lighter feel.
      The upper is constructed of a synthetic mesh, thermoplastic urethane to be exact. In order to maintain its responsivity, the shoe employs only light padding. There are TPU overlays that connect to the mid shoe.
      The men’s shoe weighs approximately 8 ounces, while the women’s shoes weigh about 6 ounces. It is not the lightest minimalist trail shoe on the market, but it certainly won’t weigh you down that much.
      Although there are no ventilation holes in the upper, the wearer is granted sufficient airflow. It is because of the breathable mesh in the upper. Standard with ventilation holes in the intake and lodging of debris. In this case, then, the absence of ventilation holes can be considered a plus. The mesh, itself, is made of absorbent material so that the runner’s feet never feel too wet.
      The Trail Glove 4 was crafted to be anatomically correct. It makes running in the shoe feel, decidedly, more natural. It’s snug fit also helps to prevent the uncomfortable jostling about the foot inside the shoe.

      The design of the shoe makes more a very comfortable short distance runs. When worn on longer journeys, though, it begins to falter. The shoes cushioning is essentially just a thin foam pad. While this may add to the lightweight feel, it does not make for comfortable running when traveling fast or far.
      The Merrell Trail Glove 4 has a very minimal aesthetic design. For securing the shoe, and adjusting the fit, bungee-style laces are employed. Many runners have argued that these shoes are more stylish than previous versions.

      The portion of the shoe that can and should be most lauded for its durability is the upper. It is not to imply that the rest of the shoe will fall apart on first wear. It is a finely crafted barefoot running shoe that sure withstands most of what’s thrown at it.

      Some runners, though, had noticed that the lugs on the outsole were rubbed away when the shoe was used on roads for extended periods. It may be concerning, but it is essential to remember that the shoe was designed to be worn when traversing natural terrain, not cityscapes or the like.

      Even so, the shoe can still function relatively well with these filed down lugs. Some runners assert that, in spite of worn away lugs, their shoes held up for hundreds of extra miles.
      The Trail Glove 4 provides a great deal of protection despite its minimalistic design. Wedged between the midsole and outsole, the TrailProtect™pad works well to prevent objects from making too deep an impact on the bottom of the runner’s feet. The Vibram outsole also works wonders.

      One must keep in mind, though, that this is a barefoot running shoe. While it offers more excellent protection than most other barefoot running shoes, it can only do so much before it sacrifices that lightweight feel. Its protective mechanisms work best for short to medium length runs on natural terrains.
      Some brands overstuff their shoes with cushioning and padding to guard their runners against debris and end up sacrificing responsivity in the process. Merrell, though, has found a way around this. As stated, incorporated into The Trail Glove 4 is the Vibram TC5+ outsole. This material allows the runner to feel the trail beneath their feet without incurring too much physical stress.

      Read also about merrell shoe reviews.

      The TrailProtect™ pad also provides underfoot support, but this shoe best serves those with medium to high arches. Those who need extra arch support may find the shoes lacking. The heel has a great deal of cushioning while the forefoot does not. Some runners may also find that the shoes do not reach high enough to give their ankles adequate support.
      The shoe is designed to function most efficiently on packed trails. Running along the hard surface of a city street or sidewalk in these shoes would bring too much physical stress to the feet.
      The Merrell Trail Glove 4 is set at about the average price for a barefoot running shoe. If you’re seeking a light-weight, responsive and snug barefoot shoe then this one is definitely worth the price. Some runners, though, have argued that the shoe should be priced somewhat lower because of what it lacks in versatility.
      On the forefoot, the lugs that make up the outsole are positioned backward. This grants the wearer better grip when ascending. The lugs featured on the rearfoot are positioned forwards, this is meant to give the wearer better grip while climbing down.

      An aggressive lug pattern appears on the outsole of the forefoot but is noticeably lacking on that of the rearfoot. Runners will also have difficulty on loose dirt and mud. It is typical of barefoot running shoes because to be considered “barefoot,” the shoe must not have too sizeable a sole or too grippy a tread.

      The Trail Glove 4 is more flexible than most competing shoes. This shoe was designed to feel like a sock on foot, and its incredible flexibility is a product of that. The outsole, though, has just enough rigidity to keep the shoe from feeling too slack.
      TPU overlays connect the upper to the mid shoe. The tongue is restricted to an opening on its outer side. It allows the shoe to provide more significant support to its medial side.
      The Merrell Trail Glove 4 follows in the tradition of its predecessors by not having any heel-to-toe drop.
      Key Features
      - TrailProtect™ pad
      - Vibram TC5+ outsole
      - EVA foam
      Bottom Line
      The Trail Glove 4 is one of the more protective barefoot shoes on the market. Its outsole and midsole work well to guard the feet against those dangerous objects one encounters while trail running what’s remarkable, though is that it has managed to add this protection without sacrificing responsivity. That’s a level of balance that most other brands just can’t lay claim to.

      This shoe derives its name from the way it is intended to fit: like a glove. On this front too, Merrell has succeeded. This shoe is snug. Not too mention its pretty lightweight. These, coupled with its employment of an anatomically correct design make it a great barefoot shoe.

      The barefoot quality of the shoe, though, maybe too realistic at times. Those without a high or medium arch may genuinely feel as though they are running without shoes on. That means taking on the stress and pains of such an activity.

      Others may be able to empathize with these runners when traversing long distances. The shoes do not hold up well for long stints. The pains of running barefoot might also be registered in the ankles of some runners.

      All in all, though, the Merrell Trail Glove 4 is good for those runners who do not need extra support. It's a lightweight, stylish, and comfortable shoe with enough ground sensitivity to please those looking to get that barefoot feel.
      Where to Buy
      Holabird Sports Link
      See Deal Link
      See Deal
      By Abbie Copeland
      Last updated:
      Where to buy
      Best offer on: Jul. 24. 2021

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