ZSA Loves Stamp

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I love my Merrell Trail Gloves. They're minimal running shoes, often referred to as "barefoot" running shoes because they have a flat sole with no arch support or shock absorption. I've been running with them for about three years now and they've definitely seen their fair share of trails.

My tattered Trail Gloves

Before I started running, I was afraid of getting knee injuries. I wasn't a runner and didn't grow up running, but when I read a book called Spark, I decided that I wanted to give it a try. That's when I discovered the benefits of "barefoot" running and minimal shoes. I'm happy to say that I've been running for several years now with little to no chronic pain. I do occasionally experience mild knee pain, but that's easily solved by switching to a different pair of shoes for a while. Even though I love these particular shoes, I don't think it's a good idea to be too attached to one specific pair of shoes because it can cause your foot to conform to a specific fit.

Going out for a run requires some "activation energy" — I often don't really feel like going out before I do. So it does help that the Trail Gloves are easy to slip on. I took the time to swap out the laces they came with for a system called Lock Laces. These are just bungee-style elastic strings with a buckle that grips them. I sized them once, and that was it. They're loose enough to slip on and off, but tight enough so that I don't lose a shoe mid-run.

These are great for hiking, too. I hike with the Trail Gloves, and also with some minimal sandals I got from a company called Xero. There's something about hiking with minimal shoes that makes me feel more connected to the trail. I can feel all of the little rocks and sticks and whatnot, and it's nice.

Another look at my Trail Gloves

The sole grips well, whether I'm on a paved surface or a natural one. I've never slipped with these, not even in the winter. Which leads me to...

The Surprise

What surprised me the most about these shoes is that I can run with them in the winter. When it starts to snow here in Southern Ontario, I like to combine my morning run with some cold exposure by going for a jog in my shorts and T-shirt in temperatures as low as -10C.

When I just started doing this, I used to run in fairly bulky boots, trying to keep my feet dry and warm. This worked, but wasn't very comfortable. So one morning I thought to myself, why don't I try running in the snow with my Trail Glove shoes? I went for it, and... it worked!

They work in the snow, too

Of course, when I run in the snow or through water, my feet do get completely soaked. But the water drains out and then I just have cold, wet feet. I realize this sounds miserable, but when you're running, it's actually fine. Within a few moments of coming out of the water or snow the shoes drain and my feet "defrost" as I keep running.

Mind you, I only go for short runs, typically around 30 minutes or so. So it's not like I spend an hour in subzero temperatures with wet feet — that doesn't sound like a good idea to me. But for a short run in the snow, these shoes totally work.

Until They Fall Apart

As you can see from the pictures, my Trail Gloves have seen better days. They've got some holes in them, especially on the sides. Still, there's lots of life left in them. The soles are holding up well, and I plan on using these until they're completely threadbare.