Merrell Trail Glove 2 Review (and the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon)

This post has been sitting in my drafts for a while, but I’m quite glad it has because I’m able to say a bit more since running in these shoes in the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon.

The original Merrell Trail Glove was my very first pair of minimalist running shoes after I had used the Vibram Fivefinger Bikilas for over a year. At the time running shoe companies seemed to be starting on the path to offering this type of shoe, but Merrell seemed to be ahead of the competition (with the possible exception of Vivobarefoot whose casual shoes I had been wearing for over a year also, but I hadn’t found their shoes easy to run in initially, and never tried running in them again).

I loved my Trail Gloves – these shoes quickly became my shoe of choice (and became my shoes to be used for longer runs after I bought a pair of New Balance Minimus Road Zero – which became my favorite shoe for shorter runs – up to about 5 miles or so).

When my original pair of Trail Gloves began to wear out, I started to try to use the New Balance Minimus for longer runs, but they just weren’t as comfortable as the Trail Gloves over about 8 miles. This lead me to try some of the alternatives that are now available (mainly buying what was on sale, but that also seemed to get good reviews) – I’ve written about some of these over the last few months.

A few weeks ago it suddenly dawned on me that I’d pretty much abandoned the Trail Glove and I wasn’t entirely sure why. In seeing that there was a new model (the Trail Glove 2), and seeing my reasonable REI dividend and a 20% off coupon, I decided to buy them.


The day they arrived I got home from work planning on running, so I took them out of the box and tried them on. The first thing I noticed was how tight they felt across the widest part of my foot and also that they seemed marginally longer then the old Trail Glove, but not long enough to warrant trying the size down.

Slightly different sizing

Slightly different sizing

I wondered if the tightness was something that I would get used to so I started out with a short run. After a while I decided I needed to mess around with loosening the laces and I was able to loosen them up enough to feel more comfortable.

After running more they still weren’t feeling right – more adjustments were needed, and actually it seemed that every time I ran in them for the first few runs I needed to make adjustments.

Despite this minor issue, these shoes still felt great – giving just the right amount of feedback from the road they feel easy to run in, and when my feet strike the ground it just feels right (more so, I think, than any other shoe I own).

So, on to the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon…

I got these shoes in early April, and it’s been a difficult few weeks in terms of getting out for a long run because of various things at home, so the half marathon was my longest run to date in these shoes (and, I just realized, my longest run since March 25th).

For some reason I convinced myself that maybe I could run this race as fast as I did last year (despite the fact I know I have been slower lately) and that’s how I started. I wanted to make sure I didn’t have the issues I had at the Miles for Music 20k so I had some Shot Bloks in my pocket and made sure I had some water on the course (I still haven’t worked out how to drink out of those cups while running – any tips?).

I’m not sure if it was the water, or just because I think I messed up my pre-race nutrition again (another thing I still haven’t quite worked out), but I felt like I was developing a stitch after about 4 miles. It didn’t bother me too much until around 10 miles when I really had to stop for a short while to try to get it to go away. I had to try again a few steps later, but after that it didn’t seem as bad, but I never really regained my momentum. Up until then I was more or less exactly on a 7 minute mile pace, but couldn’t keep it going (I already knew I wouldn’t be able to, as there’s quite a bit of uphill in the last couple of miles of this race), and I finished in 1:33:18 which is almost exactly half way between the times of my two other half marathons.

2.2 miles to go (thanks David Schatz for the photo)

2.2 miles to go (thanks David Schatz for the photo)

Anyway, back to the shoes… At the end of the race the only issue I had with my feet was that the top of my right foot was tender and hurting where the shoes touched them. I have no idea whether that’s because I need to make another adjustment to the laces, but I suspect so. The top of my foot was tender for the next day or so. I suspect maybe the shoe was rubbing during the run, or perhaps they were just too tight.

They are definitely still the most comfortable shoes I have for long runs and hopefully I will get them adjusted correctly to not cause me any issues – this is the first time I have ever had to mess around so much with a pair of shoes though so who knows.

At the finish

At the finish

UPDATE – MAY 20th 2013: I finally decided that perhaps I should be trying the size smaller in the Trail Glove 2. I went along to the REI store near work (REI Soho) and tried on the next size down. They seem like a better fit, and with the REI 100% satisfaction guarantee I was able to do a straight exchange which is fantastic as I have had the shoes for 2 months and must have put a fair few miles on them. When I’ve run in them a few times I will write a new review but here’s hoping they will be perfect, although they are still tighter across the foot than the original ones were so we’ll see how it goes.

UPDATE – JUNE 28th 2013: As this seems to be getting a reasonable number of search hits I thought it worthwhile giving an update again. The Merrell Trail Glove 2 have become my go-to long distance shoe. They are equally as comfortable as the original Trail Glove (now that I have the smaller size) and maybe even slightly more comfortable overall. I have had no issues over long distance (20 miles or more), and there are no signs of wear other than the expected wear of the number of miles run in them.

UPDATE: JULY 20th 2013: More thoughts here.

This entry was posted in barefoot running, fitness, minimal running, minimalist running, New Jersey, NJ, Race Report, running, Shoe Reviews, Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Merrell Trail Glove 2 Review (and the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon)

  1. barefoottc says:

    Good time despite the issues along the way, well done!

    • runninginnj says:

      Cheers – if only it were ever good enough though. I told myself this year isn’t about speed, but then I end up disappointed after what really is a good run (at least for me) – need to stop that.

  2. thinnmann says:

    I loved the changes in the TG2 at first.
    But I found the upper material on the TG2 to be inferior to the original. Mine failed by ripping under the arch area after only 82 miles. The Merrell people told me to send them back to see if it was just a one-off problem or something that needs addressing. I am holding off my long-term review. Plus they sent me a pair of Mix Masters to beat up instead.

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  6. I read your Niagra Falls post from 7/20/13 which lead me to this one. I have been heading towards more minimalist running, having switched to Brooks PureProject collection. I am in love with the PureConnect 2’s. I eventually want to try Vibrams or Merrell Gloves. I need to try the Vibrams on in-store because I’m just not sure how I’m going to like all my toes being separated. Any opinions on which shoe is better? And I need to run this Rutgers race! I will be starting my Master’s degree program this fall (all online) from Rutgers. What I perfect excuse to come visit the campus!

    • runninginnj says:

      It’s definitely worth trying the Vibrams in store as they need to fit well too. They were the shoes I started in as that was all there was back then. I’ve tried all sorts of shoes since other options started coming along. I think overall the Merrell Trail Gloves are the best, although I tend to wear the Vibrams when it is raining or when the ground is wet and/or muddy (mainly because I don’t need socks with them so no wet socks to deal with). To get an idea of how crazy I have gone with shoes, this is an old post: – since then I have even more so maybe I need to do an update post with some thoughts on each,

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