serious running: trail running, races, shoe reviews
 

Archive for the ‘Shoes’ Category

New Balance Warrior Prequel Running Shoe Review

Friday, October 11th, 2013

photo 1.JPG

New Balance gave me the chance to check out the new Warrior Prequel Running Shoes and I couldn’t wait to lace these babies up and take them for a spin around town. The Warrior Prequel is the first in it’s series and is a shoe built from the ground up without any creative constraints.

photo 4.JPG

The first thing I noticed when putting on the shoe was the molded tongue for a tight fit in the upper part of the shoe. I personally haven’t run in any shoes with this kind of support in the tongue and I was pleasantly surprised at how it cradled my entire foot. The upper is seamlessly welded for unmatched fit in any type of runner. This also lends itself for high performance for all types of foot shapes and sizes. The Warrior Prequel combines comfort, stability, and is ultra-light speed all in one package.

photo 3.JPG

The external stability cradle maintains the foot positioning in the center heel which helps all types of athletes. New Balance was also able to add rev-light material in the heel which is 33% lighter than other shoes with the same amount of cushioning.

I ran in these shoes but New Balance wants you to know these shoes are perfect for anyone playing team sports, crossfit, or anybody. New Balance tested them with recreational athletes and professional athletes to show it can work for anyone. I think they are great all around shoes but if you are looking for a running specific shoe you may want to try another New Balance running shoes.

Check out this video on how they designed the shoe.

 

FILA Skeletoes Minimalist Running Shoes Review

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

fila-skeletoes-minimalist-running-shoe-review-soles

Several months ago I acquired a pair of Skeletoes running shoes from FILA. If you would like to skip all of the details of the review below, I will cut to the chase: I have thoroughly enjoyed using these shoes for running, hiking, walking, playing basketball with my children, skateboarding, and a number of other activities. They have been an excellent minimalist shoe for trail running and cold-weather running, although my preference would be for a thinner and more uniform sole (such as the Soft Star RunAmoc). However, the thicker sole has allowed me to use them for a greater variety of activities.

Description of the FILA Skeletos shoe:

This is a toe shoe, with many similarities to the Vibram FiveFingers. Their distinguishing feature (aside from the cool tread which looks like foot bones) is that they only have four toe pockets instead of five. No, this shoe is not made for a mutant sub-population with only four toes – the fourth toe pocket is designed to accommodate the last two toes of the feet. The intent is to facilitate the process of putting the shoe on the foot. The sole of the shoe is similar to a Five Finger sole, in that it conforms to the contours of the foot, and is quite minimal. The upper is made of a neoprene-like material that expands well and conforms to the foot. A single velcro strap at the top of the foot secures the shoe, with an additional velcro strap at the heal to adjust the overall fit.

About me:

Until a few months ago, I was running between 30 and 60 miles a week (I had to quit running at the end of 2011 while I finished my doctoral degree and searched for a job). Since 2007, I have been a barefoot purist, running without anything on my feet and disliking the way many have used ‘barefoot running’ as a substitute for ‘minimalist running’. This, of course, has made winter running a bit difficult, as I’ve always been too proud to cover my feet, even when temperatures are sub-freezing (the two exceptions being for December marathons with start temperatures in the 20s). Aside from the two winter marathons that I ran in Land’s End slippers (similar to leather-bottom moccasins), I have run one marathon barefoot, as wells as some 5k and 10k races. I also enjoy summer all-comers track meets, and typically compete in the 1500/mile. To keep myself fit for track racing, my weekly running typically incorporates short intervals at the track (400m) and tempo runs. The majority of my running over the past few years has been done in Durham, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia, but I have also run barefoot (in a variety of conditions) as I’ve traveled within the U.S. and abroad.

fila-skeletoes-minimalist-running-shoe-reviewBenefits of the FILA Skeletoes:

1. Foremost, these shoes have enabled me to begin trail running. Although I love to mountain bike, I didn’t realize how exhilarating trail-running would be. As I’ve increased trail running, these shoes have performed excellently.

2. The four-toe design of the shoe greatly facilitates putting them on the foot. Although I have never run in Vibram FiveFingers shoes, I have put them on my feet a number of times, and always had great difficulty (because of the final toe). I’ve been told by friends who use FiveFingers that this process gets much easier as the shoes break in, but putting the shoes on my feet was never an issue with the FILA Skeletoes. The four-toe design was an excellent concept.

3. The shoes have performed quite well on trails and in wet conditions. The tread didn’t cause problems, even when hiking over wet logs.

4. The upper material is dense and is excellent in cold-weather conditions – my feet have always felt quite warm while using the shoes in low temperatures.

5. In my opinion the shoe is pretty cool looking.

Review of FILA Skeletoes:

1. When it comes to running, my preference is for an extremely minimalist sole (such as that of the Soft Star RunAmoc). The sole of the Skeletoes has some structural reinforcement and additional material around the heel, ball and toes. Have said that, they don’t have more structure than the Vibram Five Fingers, and are much more minimal that almost every other minimalist running shoe on the market.

2. After several months of use, the upper material has started to separate from the sole at the side of one of my toes (see last photo). This hasn’t affect the functionality of the shoe (I have still been able to use them without even noticing the separation), but I am now self-conscious while running in them because I have a toe sticking out of the shoe (yes, I’m a very proud person). This is also indicative that their durability may be sub-standard.

3. While the dense upper is good in cold weather, it isn’t good in warm/hot weather. Despite the fact that my feet rarely sweat, I have found them to be hot and sweaty after using the Skeletoes in warm weather.

In conclusion, I have really enjoyed my Skeletoes. While I don’t consider them my ideal running shoe (since I prefer an extremely minimal sole for trail running), the additional structure that they have built into the sole has made them ideal for a greater variety of activities than would have been possible with a more minimal sole. Aside from trail running and cold-weather road running, I have used them for running errands, hiking, playing basketball with my kids, and skateboarding. I would highly recommend them for an individual transitioning to minimalist trail running as well as an individual who is looking for a minimalist shoe that would be well suited for a wide range of activities.

Soft Star RunAmoc Minimalist Trail Running Shoe Review

Monday, February 27th, 2012

soft-star-runamoc-minimalist-trail-running-shoe-picture

Several months ago I acquired a pair of RunAmoc trail running shoes/moccasins from Soft Star shoes. If you would like to skip all of the details of the review below, I will cut to the chase: I highly recommend these shoes. If you are a barefoot road runner who wants to transition to trails, these would be an ideal choice. If you are a minimalist runner, and want a truly minimal shoe for road or trails, these probably trump any other product on the market when it comes to minimalism.

The sole of the shoe is a composite produced by Vibram, with a very light tread. The thickness is completely uniform and only about 3mm thick. Soft Star also makes a version of the RunAmoc with a thicker sole and aggressive tread, but given my bias towards absolute minimalism (bare), I ordered their ‘street’ shoe. The upper is 100% leather and is perforated throughout for great ventilation. A simple drawstring around the ankle allows the shoe to be secured at the front with a typical knot.

Until a few months ago, I was running between 30 and 60 miles a week (I had to quit running at the end of 2011 while I finished my doctoral degree and searched for a job). Since 2007, I have been a barefoot purist, running without anything on my feet and disliking the way many have used ‘barefoot running’ as a substitute for ‘minimalist running‘. This, of course, has made winter running a bit difficult, as I’ve always been too proud to cover my feet, even when temperatures are sub-freezing (the two exceptions being for December marathons with start temperatures in the 20s). Aside from the two winter marathons that I ran in Land’s End slippers (similar to leather-bottom moccasins), I have run one marathon barefoot, as wells as some 5k and 10k races. I also enjoy summer all-comers track meets, and typically compete in the 1500/mile. To keep myself fit for track racing, my weekly running typically incorporates short intervals at the track (400m) and tempo runs. The majority of my running over the past few years has been done in Durham, North Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia, but I have also run barefoot as I’ve traveled within the U.S. and abroad.

Benefits of the shoe:soft-star-runamoc-minimalist-trail-running-shoe-review

1. Foremost, these shoes have enabled me to begin trail running. Although I love to mountain bike, I didn’t realize how exhilarating trail-running would be. I’ve used the shoes both for casual runs and for one 15k trail run. In all cases, they performed excellently.

2. The sole of the shoe is truly minimalist. Unlike other minimalist running shoes on the market, the sole of this shoe has a uniform thickness and is quite thin. Even Vibram FiverFingers or Fila Skeletoes add additional material in certain areas around the heel, ball, and toes. The sole uniformity is beneficial because it ensures that the shoe will be less likely to cause problems in a proper barefoot stride, meaning that moving back and forth between barefoot running and RunAmoc running will be as seamless as possible. For me, this means that I can easily interchange days running barefoot on the road and using RunAmocs on the trail, or wearing RunAmocs on cold days and running barefoot on warmer days.

3. The shoes are very lightweight and durable. After a few months of running, they have shown very little wear.

4. The perforated upper makes the shoe very breathable (as well as contributing to the lack of weight). With plenty of air gliding across your foot, you really don’t feel like you’re wearing a shoe.

5. The shoe is quite wide at the ball of the foot, and is not restrictive around the foot – it allows plenty of room for the foot to expand naturally while contacting the ground. Despite this, the shoe never felt too loose while trail running. It always maintained contact with the foot without shifting.

Downsides of the shoe:

1. The shoes left a black residue on my feet during the first few weeks of running. This was not a major problem – just an annoyance.

2. In my personal opinion, the shoes aren’t nearly as cool looking as other products on the market. Soft Star has partly rectified this issue, as they have introduced a number of new moccasins in the latter part of 2011.

3. Given their light weight, and the perforated upper, these shoes are not ideal for very low temperatures (low, of course, is a subjective assessment). They are definitely much better than running completely barefoot on cold pavement, but other shoes on the market would provide more warmth.

I should emphasize one aspect of these shoes: I have found these shoes ideal for trail running, but for many other runners, the sole would be too thin. In particular, if you are a barefoot road runner, seeking to transition to trails, these shoes would probably suit you perfectly. If you are simply looking for a minimalist road running shoe (whether or not you have any experience with minimalist running) these shoes would also probably suit you perfectly. However, if you are looking for a minimalist trail running shoe and don’t have any experience with barefoot running, I believe the RunAmoc with thicker ‘trail’ sole would be better.

In conclusion, I absolutely love my RunAmocs. They have performed well in a variety of conditions and are the most minimal shoe that I have put on my foot. There is no doubt that I will be a long-time Soft Star customer as I will continue to use their products off-road and in cold weather.

Outdoor Retailer: Trail Running Gear from Pearl Izumi

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Ok, so trail running isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Pearl Izumi but at Outdoor Retailer I got a chance to check out their latest running gear and came away suitably impressed. With products ranging from footwear to outerwear and tights, Pearl Izumi offers a full line to outfit trail runners for extreme conditions.

Footwear

peak_ii_pearl_izumi

Pearl Izumi is offering several trail-specific shoes in 2012 but the one that caught my eye was the Peak II. The shoe felt incredibly light in my hand while featuring a decent amount of cushioning. The Peak II promises great protection against rock strike, both in the toe and forefoot, yet I found the sole to be fairly flexible. The inside sock liner felt extremely luxurious and I really appreciate the subtle nod to the state of Colorado on the tongue ribbon. Pearl Izumi calls this a “minimalist trail running shoe” but fortunately the Peak II doesn’t use the minimalist concept to sacrifice quality or comfort like other shoes on the market.

Pearl Izumi also offers shoes oriented toward road running and I could definitely see myself wearing something like the Syncro Fuel RD on urban runs that incorporate off-road detours along the way.

Outerwear

pearl_izumi_jacket

The Ultra Barrier WxB Jacket from Pearl Izumi features Cocona fabric technology, a waterproof-breathable treatment that many companies from the North Face to Isis are using in their clothing these days. The upshot: you’ll stay warm and dry without soaking yourself from the inside with sweat on your next trail run. Of course if you’re like me you’ll probably need to reserve this jacket for only the coldest and wettest trail runs of the season.

The Ultra Barrier WxB can be completely folded and stored in its integrated pouch and features a hood as well. This jacket should retail for around $180 MSRP.

Running tights

pearl_izumi_pants

Apparently we’re not the only ones who think fuel belts look ridiculous on runners (the fanny pack of this generation!). Pearl Izumi has integrated mesh bottle holders into tights like the ones pictured above to position bottles for maximum comfort and agility on the trail.

Pearl Izumi’s US operations are based outside Boulder, CO, a hotbed for trail running and outdoor activities and the company’s understanding of runners’ needs is clear in the 2012 line. We can’t wait to see how these products perform on the trail!

Hoka One One’s new Combo XT and Bondi B trail running shoes

Friday, February 18th, 2011

hoka-bondi-b-1-trail-running-shoesThe Hoka One One movement is still rolling down the hill.  These trail running shoes are the antithesis of minimalist trail running shoes, they’re the antimalist (I just trademarked that term).  Hoka One One was invented by Nicolas Mermoud and Jean Luc Diard of France, who had previously worked at Salomon, so they do know something about running shoes.  From an adventure race in Sicily was born a love for running over mountains and on trails.  Nicolas and Jean wanted a trail running shoe that allowed them to fly downhills even if they were heel striking, again, the antithesis of minimalist trail running.

The Hoka One One soles are 2.5 times larger than traditional trail running shoes which makes them look a bit like Jimmy’s strength shoes from Seinfeld.  Hoka claims the foam gives a 30% softer ride (how do you measure and quantify softness of a ride?) and is able to dissipate 80% of the impact of a heel strike.  Even though the shoes look bulky, they are relatively light, 15% lighter than traditional trail running shoes.

With the success of their initial release Hoka One One has set two new versions of trail runners to be released in February: the Combo XT and the Bondi B.  The Combo XT is a hybrid running shoe intended for roads and on trails.  Hoka One One says they developed the Combo XT because they have been seeing a rise in runners who want a shoe that is adaptable for both surfaces.  The Bondi B is named after the beach in Sydney, Australia, which also happens to be the place I saw real life boobs for the first time, just thought I’d share that.  The Bondi B has a reduced level of cushioning by about 10%.  It has an oversized outsole to improve responsiveness on hard surfaces and is lighter for road running.  The rocker sole seems more pronounced in the Bondi B than previous Hoka One One trail runners; however, the lugs are less pronounced which gives it more of a road running feel.

The Hoka One One shoes have a 13 cm rocking profile at the toe which provides a spring in your step when running on flat or uphill terrain.  The low ramps angle also allow for tremendous confidence running downhill, engaging the gluteus and lower back, as opposed to isolating the quads like traditional downhill trail running.  The bottom of the shoe has 50% more surface area so you run straight over rocks and roots without feeling anything or changing your stride.  Like a mountain bike barreling down a hill, rolling over every obstacle in its path rather than avoiding them.  The Hoka One One was invented so trail runners could run fast over any surface and any terrain.

Check out the newest improvements in the evolution of the Hoka One One trail running shoes and let us know what you think.  Could this be another new movement in running shoes in the opposite direction of minimalist?

Does the Military allow Minimalist Running Shoes for PT?

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

army-platoonI began my trail running days in the sandhills of Ft. Bragg, NC and have been running off road ever since.  I also began deteriorating my knees by jumping out of airplanes at Ft. Bragg, NC, which has lead me to only running in minimalist shoes today.  Since minimalist running has kept me trail running with less pain I wondered if others in the military, specifically those who are Airborne qualified and have some of the same knee issues as I do, had begun minimalist running.

I know the largest organization in the United States is slow to change, but I found that some soldiers were finding ways around the regulations to wear Vibram Five Fingers and other minimalist running shoes while others were being told flat out that they could not PT (physical training) wearing them.  FM 20-21 states that soldiers must wear white ankle socks with no logos while conducting PT.  The first loophole some soldiers point to is that the FM doesn’t state that soldiers must wear socks, just that if they do, the socks must cover their ankles and have no logo.  Since most commanders will not honor loopholes, some soldiers have been wearing Injinji socks which fit in Vibram FiveFingers to cover their ankles.  Another part of PT regulation states that soldiers may not wear athletic shoes that are “trendy” or “faddish.”  For this reason many base commanders have banned Vibram FiveFingers and other minimalist running shoes completely.  I somewhat understand the reasoning because sometimes if you give soldiers an inch they will take a mile; and being in the correct uniform is important for building unit cohesion.  However, making a regulation based on “trendiness” may be constraining soldiers who legitimately need to wear minimalist running shoes to avoid injury.  According to the Army Times, even Lt. Cmdr. John Mahoney, a Navy doctor and physical therapist says, “Vibram FiveFingers are the best thing out there for rehabilitating lower extremity injuries.”

In a typical flip floppy manner, the Army has also banned minimalist running shoes on the PT test because they believe the shoes may be “unfair.”  So if they are deemed unfair then they must help soldiers run better in training, right?!  Then why not let soldiers wear them?  This may be a case in which the military must make a blanket policy to cover the well-being of the whole instead of allowing Commanders make their own SOPs (standard operating procedures).  The same Army Times article quotes Dr. Steven Pribut, a podiatrist and sports medicine expert in Washington, DC, who specializes in working with runners saying, “I’m seeing a lot more injuries from people wearing them.  It’s not a problem with the shoes themselves; it’s mostly a function of people doing too much too soon.”  Military personnel are definitely susceptible to over doing it because they are all taught to push their bodies to the limit and to ignore pain.  It looks like the Army is pulling the trigger and making a blanket ban on Vibram FiveFingers and other minimalist shoes in a policy released through BirthdayShoes.com today.  The new policy amends the current policy which states that Commanders “may authorize the wear of commercial running shoes,” as it goes on to say, “Commercial running shoes do not include minimalist shoes, lightweight track/road running flats, racing spikes, toe shoes, or shoes that simulate barefoot running.”  This is coming from the same organization that makes it’s soldiers run and walk 10s of miles in combat boots.  Oh well, there you have it, Army personal are now not authorized to wear minimalist running shoes during PT.

I believe because of the rapid growth in popularity of minimalist running the Army is making a rash decision without doing their research.  They even have a Marine study that was done 6 months ago which studied fitting recruits with motion control, stability, or support running shoes would have an effect on injuries.  The study assigned a control group, of 432 Men and 257 Women, with only stability running shoes.  They then formed an experimental group, of 408 Men and 314 Women, who were fitted with the correct running shoe based on plantar shape.  The study said the incidence of injury after the 12 weeks of basic training had no difference between the two groups.  If types of traditional running shoes don’t increase injuries, then why do they believe minimalist running shoes will?  I understand that soldiers are the military’s greatest assets, but banning something that may decrease injuries is absurd.  Maybe the military should start by developing an “Army issued” minimalist running shoe based on their doctors’ recommendations.  This would most likely increase the available fighting force while allowing soldiers to train as their body needs them too.  The Army ruined my knees, the least they can do is try to prevent that from happening to the rest of the Men and Women serving our county.  I guess for now, just like everything else in the military, you simply have to play the game, whether you agree or not.  Thank you all for your continued service.

Merrell’s Women’s Minimalist Trail Running Shoes: Pace Glove, Power Glove, Pure Glove

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Last year I went to Outdoor Retailer and saw Merrell’s new minimalist trail running shoe collection, well “glove” collection.  Each shoe is called a “glove” because they fit, “like a glove.”  The Men’s minimalist trail running shoes in Merrell’s collection are the Trail Glove, True Glove, and Tough Glove.  One of the coolest things the Merrell rep told me was that each pair of minimalist running shoes sold will include instructions on minimalist running techniques.  I know too many people who have tried minimalist running to help with an injury, without changing their running style, and end up injurying themselves more.  Most new minimalist runners don’t know that they need to change their style.  Well, the ones who buy the Merrell shoes womens-merrell-pace-glove-minimalist-trail-running-shoewill…

The first women’s minimalist trail running shoe in the Merrell collection is the Pace Glove.  The Merrell representative told me that the Pace Glove is the “medium” of their three shoes in the Women’s collection.  It is made for runners who haven’t yet made the transition to minimalist running and want a shoe that gives them the same feeling without sacrificing protection.  The upper is made with an air mesh.  They have a lacing system called Omni-Fit which is the reason the shoes feel like a glove.  This is also important because the toe box is a bit wider than normal; in order to give your feet the feeling of running barefoot.  The heel cup is same as the lacing system, made of a synthetic leather to keeps your foot tight in the shoes.  There is a fused rubber at the front which is really sturdy and protects well against roots and rocks.  The sole is made from a rubber compound by Vibram for protection as well.

The next shoe in he collection is the Power Glove.  The Power Glove is more of a hiking shoe than a trail running shoe, but womens-merrel-minimalist-trail-running-power-glovecould be used for both, kind of like a road to trail shoe; a hike to trail running shoe.  It’s a little bulkier than the others so if you aren’t sure about minimalist trail running this may be the shoe you want to try first.  The upper is made of soft leather for the tight fit around the ankle.  The lacing is different though, using the Double Merrell Easy Z-Rap Closure System.  These are kind of like the Velco shoes you used to wear as a kid.  They make for a tight fit around your foot and ankle; good for those who have problems rolling their ankles, and allow you to never have to learn how to tie your shoes!

womans-merrells-pure-glove-minimalist-trail-running-shoePure Glove is the lightest in the collection.  They call it “pure” glove because it is the closet to natural, they let your feet go free while giving them the protection and traction your bare feet just don’t have.  It has a lycra mesh in the upper which makes it super light.  It also only has on strap in the front, giving your foot freedom of movement and the feeling of running barefoot.  This shoe is for runner who want to go barefoot running, without going barefoot running.  Trails can be tough!

All of the shoes also have a microfiber footbed treated with Aegis antimicrobial solution.  The Merrell rep told me this was to resist odor but I’m not sure why they put it in the Women’s shoes.  Women’s feet smell like flowers.  I mean, not roses, but lilies at least.

Merrell’s True Glove Minimalist Trail Running Shoe Review

Friday, January 21st, 2011

merrells-mens-true-glove-minimalist-trail-running-shoeThis past year I went to Outdoor Retailer and got a sneak peek at Merrell’s new minimalist trail running collection from one of their representatives.  If you like what you read here about the True Glove then you may want to check out what I found out about the other new minimalist trail running shoes in Merrell’s collection:  Trail Glove and Tough Glove for Men; and Pace Glove, Power Glove, and Pure Glove for Women.  Find which one best fits you your running style…like a glove!

The Merrell Barefoot collection is made to allow minimalist runners’ feet to follow their natural instincts.  They are uniquely designed to engage the feet efficiently, avoid injury, and strengthen your body’s core.  The collection is the best minimalist trail running shoes I’ve seen and the True Glove is my favorite shoe in the collection.  The True Glove upper is made of a sheepskin leather.  Sheepskin makes true glove feel so much better, and safer!  The sheepskin is the reason that the true glove is the lightest in Merrell’s minimalist trail running collection.  Even though it is light, the upper wraps well around the foot because of Merrell’s Omni-Fit lacing system, pretty much the reason these shoes can be called gloves.  The True Glove supposedly also has a footbed treated with Merrell’s antimicrobial solution which I was told resists odor but that’s hard to believe in a minimalist trail running shoe; one that usually is run in without socks through water, mud, and everything else.

The midsole and outsole has a 4 mm cushioning in it, just enough for a semi-soft landing while still allowing for the minimalist trail running feel.  The part I like most about the sole is the 1 mm forefoot shock absorption plant which helps maintain forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure.  The True Glove is the first minimalist trail running shoe I’ve seen that has taken into account that minimalist runners run on their toes.  In fact, Merrell also told me that they would be providing instructions on minimalist running techniques with every pair they sell of their minimalist trail running shoe collection; like a manual for a car.  I think this is a great idea because I’ve heard of too many injured runners throwing on minimalist running shoes without changing their technique and further injuring themselves.  The sole is made of a rubber compound TC-1.  What does that mean exactly?  I don’t know, but I trust any sole made by Vibram.

Check them out in February of 2011.

Merrell’s Tough Glove Minimalist Trail Running Shoe Reveiw

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

merrell-mens-tough-glove-minimalist-trail-running-shoesThis past year I went to Outdoor Retailer and got a sneak peek at Merrell’s new minimalist trail running collection from one of their representatives.  If you like what you read here about the Tough Glove then you may want to check out what I found out about the other new minimalist trail running shoes in Merrell’s collection:  Trail Glove and True Glove for Men; and Pace Glove, Power Glove, and Pure Glove for Women.  Find which one best fits you your running style…like a glove!

Merrell’s Tough Glove is somewhat similar to the other minimalist trail running shoes in the collection.  It is made so your feet and legs can follow their natural instincts, giving them the room to flow.  The Tough Glove is the heaviest shoe in the collection.  It does have an uber-lightweight upper with a stabilizing rubber foot sling from Vibram which protects your underfoot from pointy rocks; however, it doesn’t have the toe protection that Merrell’s other minimalist trail running shoes do.  Maybe that’s why they call it Tough Glove…

The upper is made of a synthetic leather and air mesh which gives a looser feel than the other shoes in the collection.  This shoe is for runners who absolutely want to give their feet the freedom of movement when trail running.  The Omni-Fit lacing system that Merrell owns still makes the shoe fit snug enough to be considered a “glove.”  It does have a toe bumper for some durability, but it’s not as heavy duty as the other Merrell minimalist shoes.  There is rubber in the rear of the shoe too, but this is more for easily slipping them on, while giving your heel a tight feeling, rather than for protection.  The Tough Glove supposedly also has a footbed treated with Merrell’s antimicrobial solution which I was told resists odor but that’s hard to believe in a minimalist trail running shoe; one that usually is run in without socks through water, mud, and everything else.

The Vibram midsole and outsole are the same on all of Merrell’s minimalist trail running shoe collection but in case this is your first read:

The midsole and outsole has a 4 mm cushioning in it, just enough for a semi-soft landing while still allowing for the minimalist trail running feel.  The part I like most about the sole is the 1 mm forefoot shock absorption plant which helps maintain forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure.  The Trail Glove is the first minimalist trail running shoe I’ve seen that has taken into account that minimalist runners run on their toes.  In fact, Merrell also told me that they would be providing instructions on minimalist running techniques with every pair they sell of their minimalist trail running shoe collection; like a manual for a car.  I think this is a great idea because I’ve heard of too many injured runners throwing on minimalist running shoes without changing their technique and further injuring themselves.  The sole is made of a rubber compound TC-1.  What does that mean exactly?  I don’t know, but I trust any sole made by Vibram.

Yeah, I do feel weird quoting myself but you never know who your audience is on the Internet.  The Tough Glove is perfect for runners who want the closest thing to the barefoot running feel without baring it all.  It is also a great shoe for minimalist runners who run 90% road and 10% trail and want a hybrid shoe.  So for the Glove of God, check out Merrell’s new collection which comes out in February 2011, we’d love to hear what everyone else thinks of them!

Merrell’s Trail Glove Mens Minimalist Trail Running Shoe Review

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

merrell-minimalist-trail-running-shoe-trail-glove This past year I went to Outdoor Retailer and got a sneak peek at Merrell’s new minimalist trail running shoe collection.  Pictured to the left is the Men’s Trail Glove Minimalist Trail Running Shoe which is scheduled to hit stores in February of 2011.  Get ready!  If you like what you read here about the Trail Glove then you may want to check out what I found out about the other new minimalist trail running shoes in Merrell’s collection:  Tough Glove and True Glove for Men; and Pace Glove, Power Glove, and Pure Glove for Women.  Find which one best fits you your running style…like a glove!

The Merrell representative told me that the reason Merrell got into the minimalist trail shoe movement is because their company’s core values are to bring customers to find their outside freedom and the Trail Glove lets runners’ feet follow their natural instincts to that freedom.  How philosophical.  Merrell teamed up with Vibram to fuse together their knowledge of barefoot running with Merrell’s knowledge of outdoor footwear.  The biggest difference between Merrell’s minimalist trail running shoes and others on the market is the wide toe and heel boxes.  The wide toe and heel boxes are to encourage your foot to find it’s natural stride by giving it plenty of room.  Stop suffocating your foot and give it the room to learn on its own.  Merrell’s Trail Glove is its medium weight minimalist trail shoe in the collection; combining an ultra-lightweight feel with all the protection needed from rocks and roots.

The upper is made of a treated synthetic leather and upper mesh.  This allows for a tight feel which fits snug against the upper part of your foot, according to Ace Ventura, like a glove!  The snug fit in the uppers is important because your foot tends to slide around in the excess room built in the lower for freedom of movement.  The Trail Glove also uses Merrell’s Omni-Fit lacing system, secured with welded TPU, to help tighten the upper more and give the glove feel.  There is a hard toe bumper that is fused on the front to provide protection against rocks and roots on the trail.  On the back Merrell put synthetic rubber fused on, this is more for stability in your heel than protection from the trail.  The Merrell representative also told me that they have a microfiber footbed treated with an antimicrobial solution that resists odor, but we’ll have to see about that.  I’ve never met a minimalist trail running shoe that didn’t stink….or maybe that’s just me…

The midsole and outsole has a 4 mm cushioning in it, just enough for a semi-soft landing while still allowing for the minimalist trail running feel.  The part I like most about the sole is the 1 mm forefoot shock absorption plant which helps maintain forefoot flexibility and protects the foot by distributing pressure.  The Trail Glove is the first minimalist trail running shoe I’ve seen that has taken into account that minimalist runners run on their toes.  In fact, Merrell also told me that they would be providing instructions on minimalist running techniques with every pair they sell of their minimalist trail running shoe collection; like a manual for a car.  I think this is a great idea because I’ve heard of too many injured runners throwing on minimalist running shoes without changing their technique and further injuring themselves.  The sole is made of a rubber compound TC-1.  What does that mean exactly?  I don’t know, but I trust any sole made by Vibram; just like I trust websites on the Internet.

Stay tuned the next couple of days as I review the other new minimalist trail shoes in Merrell’s collection.