Merrell Trail Glove 7 Review – A lightweight, protective shell

After trying out Trail Gloves' little brother, Vapor Glove 6, I had high hopes for the shoe. I expected to get the same fit and feel but just a little extra protection. However, I found that additional protection drastically changes the fit and feel of the shoe. 

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Weight

8.99oz / 255g for men’s US9

Stack height

14mm total stack height (2mm lugs)
Zero Drop

Made for

Rocky dry trails
Shorter distances

Fit

Low volume
Narrow midfoot
Narrow toe box
True to size

Feel

Protective under foot
Good lockdown
Stiff for a low-stack shoe

Pros & Cons

+ Good toe protection
+ Price
– Too narrow for most people


I’m not going to lie –I didn’t get on with the Merrell Trail Glove 7. But I’ll try my best not to let that taint my review and be truthful when, in fact, this shoe may be your best option. 

After trying out Trail Gloves’ little brother, Vapor Glove 6, I had high hopes for the shoe. I expected to get the same fit and feel but just a little extra protection. However, I found that additional protection drastically changes the fit and feel of the shoe. 


In this review, I’ll dive deep into the shoe’s fit, feel, and durability and ultimately help you decide if the Trail Glove 7 is an excellent option for you or if you should look elsewhere. 

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Fit

Shallow and narrow. If you constantly feel like you’re drowning in other brands, try the Trail Glove. 

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What size to order?

The Trail Glove 7 runs true to size, but you may want to ½ size up for hot weather. I found the shoe length perfect, although if I lifted my big toe, I did catch the toe cap. I wouldn’t worry about shorter distances, but if I were to start using the shoe for longer runs with steep descents, I’d ½ size up to avoid any toe damage. 

Width is going to be the sticking point. The Trail Glove is likely the narrowest shoe I’ve tried in a while. And that could suit some of you out there! But if you don’t have a narrow foot, steer clear and look at other brands like Vivobarefoot and Xero Shoes

Merrell Trail Glove 7 toe box

Is the toe box wide enough for a barefoot shoe?

The side walls of the toe box squished my little toe. And, to some extent, my big toe! If you’re coming from a conventional shoe brand like Hoka or Nike, you may not notice this, but if you want a true barefoot shoe, you want to focus on finding a wider toe box to help your toes splay.

I would only suggest this model to those with a narrow toe splay. When you stand up and load your feet and toes, do your toes move outwards? That’s splay. If your toes are no wider than the rest of your foot, the Trail Glove 7 could work for you as long as the rest of your foot is more narrow than wide. 

Is the upper forgiving?

The upper provides a tight lockdown that may be uncomfortable if the fit is wrong. My midfoot is pretty wide, and because the upper has little give, there was no way the shoe would work for me. But the stiffer upper may be a great feature if you have a narrow foot. You’ll have little worry about your foot slipping around in the shoe when dancing down the trail. 

Merrell Trail Glove 7 toe box

Does the heel lock in place?

The heel isn’t spectacular, but the flexible lacing system locks the foot in place nicely. The heel is neither good nor bad. I never had any issue with rubbing or slipping around in the shoe. But I credit the locked-down feeling to the lacing system and upper. 

The stiffer upper material and flexible lacing combine to create a good lockdown. You only need to give the laces a slight tug, and the upper wraps around the foot perfectly (aside from the width issue). Your foot will not slide around in the shoe, precisely what you want from a trail shoe. 

Will they accommodate shallow and deep feet?

Do not buy this shoe if you have a deep foot! It was still uncomfortable for my average depth foot, so I could only suggest it to narrow, shallow-footed individuals. It’s also worth noting that there is no removable insole, so gaining extra room in the shoe is impossible. 

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 outline

Merrell Trail Glove 7

Feel

To me, the shoe is a little lifeless. It is not solid enough to call it a high alpine shoe and not flexible enough to call it a dry sandy trail shoe. It hits in some weird middle ground. Maybe a dirt track or gravel path?

Is the flexibility like a true barefoot shoe?

The Trail Glove 7 is somewhat flexible. The forefoot bends at the forefoot like you’d expect, although there’s a lack of torsional flex. That’s not unusual for a trail running shoe because there’s often a ton more protection underfoot to protect from sharp rocks and surfaces.

There’s always a trade-off between protection and barefoot feel. One of my favorite trail shoes is the Xero Shoes Mesa Trail II, but its great flexibility is a drawback on rocky trails. If you hit a sharp edge wrong, it hurts! It’s all a tradeoff. If you’re happy dancing around rocks, go for something minimal, but if you’re not confident with your footwork, opt for a little more protection and stack height. 

Merrell Trail Glove 7 toe box

What is the ground feel like?

Because the midsole and outsole are firmer, the ground feel is reduced. Again, that’s not bad if you’re looking for protection, but that’s not great when working on your barefoot gait. 

I found the shoe to be solid and lifeless. I usually like firmer rides, but this firmer foam felt a little like a thin brick underfoot. You got very little ground feedback, and it started feeling like a conventional shoe. 

Are the shoes zero-drop?

The specifications state that the shoe is zero drop, and I’m confident it’s true! I didn’t feel any lift in the heel or strange “forward propulsion” from any toe spring or rocker in the shoe—just a plain old flat surface. 

Beware! You’ll feel something poking you in the arch when walking around! Here’s another huge gripe I have with the shoe –arch support! While there are arguments for arch support in shoes at certain times, it should be in this shoe! It’s a zero-drop, minimal shoe! And arch support does not support that paradigm!

What type of runs are they suited too?

I’d only take these shoes out on short rocky runs. Anything further would start to become a little uncomfortable and restrictive. However, I do see how they’d be beneficial for rocky conditions. The decent amount of protection and tight lockdown lend them to rugged terrain. 

They’re not made for muddy conditions. The Vibram outsole is bound to be quality, but the lug pattern is relatively tame. I’d only take these shoes out in dry conditions and possibly road to trail.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 outline

Merrell Trail Glove 7

Durability

Here’s a plus point for the shoe. For the price, you’ll get some decent miles out of them!

Can the upper withstand scuffs and scrapes?

The upper has some strategically placed overlays around the toes and side of the shoes. These high-wear areas will last longer with the extra overlay and help if you scuff any rocks. 

The upper material isn’t super durable, but not much is exposed either. The upper is still a tight woven mesh to keep the shoe a little more flexible. And whereas this isn’t the most protective, it’ll do the job. 

Merrell Trail Glove 7 toe box

How long will the outsole last?

The best feature of the shoe is the outsole! You can always trust a Vibram outsole. While it’s not aggressive and shouldn’t be taken out in the muddy fells, those in dry sandy conditions will get an adequate grip and a good lifespan out of the outsole.

Is the build high quality?

The build quality is excellent for the price. You’ll find plenty of stitching where it’s needed (lacing and heel) and glued overlays where weight is paramount. I can’t pick any part of the shoe that hasn’t been well thought out and executed poorly. 

Are there any weak points of the shoe?

There’s a possibility that a tear could occur on the inside of the forefoot. The only unprotected part of the upper is the inside of the shoe around the forefoot. This is a high wear point for some people; constant pressure on this area can cause the shoe to break down prematurely. Take note if you’ve busted out the inside of a shoe in this place before. 

It’s wild to think, but the outsole is the only other part that will break down. Given it’s a Vibram outsole, I never thought I’d be saying that. But I just don’t see any other weakness in the shoe. 

Merrell Vapor Glove 6 outline

Merrell Trail Glove 7

Conclusion

The Merrell Trail Glove 7 has some significant flaws. 

It’s a barefoot/minimal shoe that doesn’t fit 70% (that’s a guess) of bare feet!

The shoe is narrow, shallow, and very constrictive. That can work in some trail situations, but comfort should be the biggest factor when buying a shoe. 

So, who should buy this shoe? 

If you have a narrow and shallow foot, with little toe splay.

If you want a cheaper, more durable shoe and don’t care about the fit (you really should)

If you have a deeper foot. 

If you have a wider foot

And my favorite….. 

Nick
Nick

Nick is a UESCA-certified ultramarathon coach and avid barefoot runner, having over 5 years of experience in barefoot training and has competed in multiple ultra marathons wearing barefoot shoes. Starting his journey in the running industry over 10 years ago in New Zealand, Nick evolved from a running shoe salesperson to a passionate advocate for the transformative power of barefoot running. He believes in its potential to enhance running experiences for all and combines his unique insights from both personal achievements and professional coaching to guide and inspire the running community."

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