Over the last two years I've run almost exclusively in Merrell's "barefoot" Trail Glove-1 (for runs less than 20 miles) and the Ascend Glove (for runs > 20 miles). These shoes are without doubt the most comfortable running shoes I've ever run in. I haven't found another make that fits me quite right, accommodating my wide feet and enabling me to run light and comfortably over ultra distances without blisters.
I'd been concerned as Merrell's barefoot line had been drying up of late- the Ascend Glove was discontinued as were many of the various Trail Glove spinoffs. I'd recently bought a pair of the Bare Access Trail but found it to be more of a conventional shoe design that doesn't fit my feet right, being too narrow up in the toe box for my paws.
Enter the new Trail Glove 3. Some observations:
1. The construction materials and construction quality hail back to the Trail Glove 1: Double stitching, same tough fabric; this bodes extremely well as I have found that my Trail Glove-1 uppers simply do not wear out (whereas the Ascend Glove upper is a thinner fabric which is a bit prone to tearing). I have a pair of TG1s that I wear around as walking shoes after honorable service in ultra training and racing of probably close to a thousand miles, with the vibram lugs worn smooth: They are still excellent day-to-day walking shoes. The uppers are in near perfect condition still.
2. The Trail Glove 3 toe box is wide -- seems a bit wider and more flared than the TG1 in the same size and the fit is very close to my Ascend Gloves in size 11.5.
|Trail Glove 1 to the left; Ascend Glove, middle, Trail Glove-3 to the right. All are Mens size 11.5; all are new and unused (the TG-1 and Ascend glove are from my closet stash).|
|Outsoles for Trail Glove-1 (left); Ascend Glove (middle); Trail Glove-3 (right). Note the arch protection in the TG-3 at right, which is firmer than in the TG-1 at left.|
5. The Trail Glove 3, like the TG1 and TG2, has a swatch of rubber that conforms to the arch to provide rock protection. The material used in TG3 is firmer than the material used for TG1. It was unexpectedly noticeable when first donning the TG3s but seemed to disappear when I started running.
All in all the Trail Glove 3 looks like a great shoe, which is intermediate in "armoring" between the Trail Glove 1 and the Ascend Glove. I'll be using it for longish runs ~ 20 miles this season. I am very happy that Merrell is sticking with the barefoot line.
Note added March 20: The more I run in the TG-3s the more I REALLY LOVE these shoes. Lace them up tight and they feel like running barefoot but without the stone bruises. Just fantastic.
March 22: 28 miles on Mt Wilson, 6071 ft of climb; 4:48. Felt great. Feet were soooo comfy.