I am a trail shoe convert. I use to be a boot guy. But, I really only wear them on longer hikes now. I love the freedom of trail shoes.
It’s like you’re wearing nothing at all, nothing at all… nothing at all…
Up until recently I was wearing a pair of Merrell MQM Flex. I wore them pretty much everyday—to and from work (9-10km) and up in the Dandenongs or You Yangs or Brisbane Ranges at the weekend. I reckon they racked up a few thousand kilometres. But, shoes die over time. The MQMs are still going, but they’re a bit worn in the heel and were starting to hurt my feet. Time for a new pair.
Merrell approached me recently to partner with them on some stuff. As a happy Merrell wearer the time was right to test a new trail shoe. Something that would be well-suited to my #urbanhiking—this was before I had any idea when we would be allowed back on hiking tracks—but also supportive enough for some moderate day hiking around the parts of Victoria I tend to frequent. They sent me a pair of Trail Glove 5s in black.
Disclaimer: I was very clear with Merrell that I would be brutally honest in my review. If I thought the shoes were crap I’d have no choice to but either keep silence, or share my opinions with you, the reader. Alas, I like them so here we are…
Merrell Trail Glove 5s are the next iteration to the popular Trail Glove 4. They’re a ‘barefoot’ style shoe that’s “designed to enhance the foot’s natural ability to [stabilise] the body during rapid changes in movement”. So, ideal for hiking and trail running on uneven surfaces.
Comfort and Performance
I wear a US10 and the Merrell guys suggested the Trail Glove would be fairly true-to-size so sent me a US10. Straight out of the box the shoes were comfortable if not-too-snug. I usually just wear a thin cotton ankle sock when going for my arvo walk but there was a little movement in this configuration. I swapped to a Smartwool PhD Run Lite Elite merino sock and the combination was near perfect. Light, airy.
I’ve probably put 500km into the Trail Gloves already and have noticed that occasionally the midsole on the right shoe causes me a little grief. Ben from Orange wrote a review of the product over at Snowys and describes the Trail Glove 5 as having an “intrusive arch” and suggests that “if you have very high arches then they may suit you”. I don’t believe I have a very high arch and only notice the issue intermittently. To be sure, I have had some tendon issues with my right foot in the past so the agitation could be related to that.
Does this agitation play on my ability or desire to wear the Trail Gloves? Not at all. Generally, I can wear them for up to 20km and feel fresh in the feet at the end of it.
Performance so far on the track has been great. Rain, hail, or shine. I’ve noticed the soles are a little slippery on some tiles and footpath materials, but on slippery rocks they offer ample grip. A good test was a recent trip to the Yarra Ranges. It was a dreary sort of day and the track was pretty wet, and boggy in parts. The shoes handled the slippery, rocky sections of the track really well.
I’ve noticed some flattening and wear on the sole in the heel on the right foot. (Maybe I need to see a podiatrist?) And a little bit of roughness around the ‘shank’ or midsole that came about from 12 odd kilometres in the gravelly Brisbane Ranges. Other than that the shoes look new.
They’ve been fully submerged, rained on, waded through think mud. They dry quickly and haven’t taken on any odour yet.
I live in Melbourne so of course I chose the black. They’re a low profile, non-ridiculous looking shoe that don’t look too out of place worn with jeans. A grey ‘Merrell’ logo on the back side reminds people that you’re a serious outdoors person.
My US10s are probably spot on, if I wear a merino wool sock. With a lighter cotton sock, they’re probably a fraction too big.
They’re available in a men’s and women’s fit.
Who are they for?
I’m not a trail runner so can’t attest to their performance for running. However, as an urban hiking/lightweight trail shoe they are a good pick. I’d really like to get them wetter and muddier and see how they perform over time. They’re not a sieve when it comes to wicking water, but they try pretty quick. Coupled with a good merino sock your feet will remain warm and comfortable, but with good breathability.
Availability & Price
They range in price from $112-180 online.
A lightweight trail shoe that’ll keep you comfortable over reasonable distances. Maybe a little aggressive in the arch support, but that could just be me (and Ben from Orange).
How many stars? Let’s go 4.5 stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ + 1/2