Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Merrell Trail Glove 2.0 and Pace Glove 2.0

Trail Glove 2.0 and Pace Glove 2.0

In case you hadn't already noticed, I'm a huge fan of Merrell Barefoot shoes.  I was never really in love with the toes on my VFFs that started me on the barefoot/minimal journey in 2010 so I was immediately excited when I first read Jason Robillard's review of the first Trail Glove (link) and bought them as soon as they were available.  

My journey with the original Trail Glove started in January 2011 and those shoes were everything to me.  They got me through my first half marathon, my first 6hr trail run, and my first 50K Ultra marathon.   I used them on roads and trails. You can read my review of the original here (link).

When Merrell approached me to review the Trail Glove 2.0 and Pace Glove 2.0, I was really excited and a little nervous.  First off, this would be first time I had been able to try a shoe prior to public availability. That was a big deal for me as a blogger.  Second, I was worried that Merrell might have changed what I consider to be a pretty damn fine shoe.

I'm happy to report that Merrell did a wonderful job of updating the Trail Glove and Pace Glove without dramatically changing it.  OK.  I wasn't really in doubt since Merrell's product development team gets it when it comes to minimal shoe design.

Here is what Merrell has to say about their updates with my take following:
A more flexible ride – The trail protect plate (made with ESS) has grooves cut into the
plate. You will find it to be less “slappy” and more flexible, but still offers the minimal protection needed on trail. This design provides a more natural feeling and rolls better with
your foot on varying terrain. 
My Take:  I didn't really notice a difference here but then again, I was happy with the original protection.  That said, more flex is not a bad thing in my book.

Greater freedom of movement – As with all barefoot we continue to utilize a reductive
design philosophy. We focused on a reductive design philosophy. With this approach, we
designed a shoe with less structure (on the upper) that moves more freely with the foot for
an even greater “barefoot” experience. We used all seamless materials for a soft natural feel on the foot.
My Take:  The upper is certainly more minimal.  This is a good thing from a weight perspective and I don't think it will negatively impact the durability at all.  Note:  the Pace Glove 2.0 did not appear to have the new upper.

OMNIFIT lacing – Where the men’s Trail Glove had 4 OMNIFIT lace closures, we
mimicked the women’s for the 2.0 and went to 2. This helps open it up for an easier on-and off, and also allows the foot to splay more. We heard that the bottom 2 closures were putting pressure on the top of the foot and we corrected this for a more natural fit and feel, while still maintaining excellent foot hold on the instep.
My Take:  First off, I love me some OMNIFIT lacing.  This is my favorite feature of the original outside of the obvious minimal features.  Since the bottom closures never bothered me, I was a little worried that this would be a change for the bad.  I'm happy to report that I do not notice a fit difference.  The two top OMNIFIT laces do a fine job of locking your foot into place.
Trail Glove 1.0 (front) and the Trail Glove 2.0 showing the OMNIFIT lacing

What Merrell didn’t do and rationale:
The Arch:
We know you will ask about the arch because it was a heavy topic of
conversation. Working with our advocates and athletes we learned that our arch is providing a great foot hold, and hugs up under the arch, without hindering the natural movement of the foot, so we kept the best selling trail glove fit and feel in the arch area. We feel this platform is right for the activity, as it moves well with the foot, hugs tightly, and allows the wearer to have excellent connection to the trail, and the right amount of grip and protection.
My take:  I was never really bothered by the arch on the original Trail Glove and I was not bothered by it on the Trail Glove 2.0.  After putting a ton of miles on the Road Glove 2, which has a more noticeable arch, I was pleasantly surprised at how invisible the arch on the Trail Glove 2.0 was.

Pace Glove 2.0 Specifics:

@durtyfeets also had the opportunity to review the Pace Glove 2.0 but since I have anything but dainty womanly feet, I enlisted my favorite female shoe tester to give them a workout.  The Pace Glove 2.0 (Women's) is quite similar to the Pace Glove 1.0 in that it already had the two OMNIFIT laces and the upper material does not appear to have changed.

It seems like the only substantial change was to the heel design.  Where the original Pace Glove had an elastic in the heel, the Pace Glove 2.0 employs a more standard solid design with a slightly padded heel collar.  I would expect that this will create a more sockless friendly fit.  Since it is winter in New England, my lovely and talented female shoe tester (a.k.a. my wife, Pam) did not test the shoe without socks.  In general, she was fairly pleased with the Pace Glove 2.0.
Insole on the Pace Glove 2.0 is really cool.  Unfolded laundry and baby doll in the picture are not so cool.

Her one comment was that it seemed like it fit a little larger than the originals.  This may be due to the heel change.  Prospective Pace Glove 2.0 buyers should definitely try them on to get the size correct.

The durtyfeets conclusion:  The Trail Glove 2.0 and Pace Glove 2.0 appear to have been updated mostly to bring the design aesthetic in line with the newer Merrell Barefoot and M-Connect shoes.  All in all, Merrell did a fine job of NOT messing with an already fine shoe.  If you are in the market for a minimal trail shoe, you can't go wrong here.

Trail Glove 2.0 and Pace Glove 2.0 should be available through Merrell and REI in mid March. 



  1. Nice! I too am so glad the didn't mess up the Trail Glove... kept what was good, and just refined it...

  2. Robyn at Ultra and Beyond linked me to your blog cause I'm running Pineland this year. Your blog is awesome! What a great attitude you have. I'm looking forward to following your progress!

    1. Hi Astrid,

      Thanks for the comment. Pineland was a blast. It was my first 50K and I'm trying to get up there and do it again this year. We'll see if the schedule works. If you can, get out there for Saturday to either participate or hang out for the Saturday races. Fun time. I'm pretty sure Jason Robillard will be there for a clinic this year again on Saturday. He's a great teacher and it's worth catching his clinic.
      Thanks for the twitter follow too by the way.

  3. Hi Durty Feets,

    I’ve taken a look through your website and we think you’ve done a fantastic job in covering topics that our brand's audience, those interested in fashion, shoes, and fitness shoe and product reviews, would be interested in reading. It would be great if you could join our community to feature your blog entries.

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  4. They also did away with the wide version of the Pace Glove :(

  5. I am glad that the shoes met your expectations. I can imagine how excited you were to be able to try them out before they became available to the general public. I've tested food products and it's always nice to be able to give your input and make a product better.

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  7. Nicely done review, durtyfeets. I've had a isolated incedence of weird rubbing while wearing the Trail Glove too. I think "wearing a glove" can sometimes lead to nasty blisters..