Meet Merrell Trail Glove 6: The Minimalist, Almost-Barefoot Running Shoe

Barefoot running, and the minimalist trail shoes that accompany the movement, is more than a passing fad. Ever since Born to Run idolized the way our feet are actually perfectly-engineered running machines, the barefoot movement has grown exponentially.

Merrell has a long history in the minimalist and barefoot running space, and the Trail Glove 6 is the latest in an iconic line of glove-like footwear. To put it succinctly: the Trail Glove 6 is a minimalist trail runner that gives the feel of barefoot shoes, yet provides a surprising amount of support. It’s a unique combination that places the Trail Glove 6 right in the middle of more classic trail runners and ultra-minimalist barefoot shoes.


The Merrell Trail Glove 6.

They are incredibly lightweight, made to last as long as much burlier shoes, use mostly recycled materials, have an impressive Vibram outsole, and come in a large range of sizes and colors for men and women.

See the Men’s Merrell Trail Glove 6

See the Women’s Merrell Trail Glove 6

Unique Features of the Merrell Trail Glove 6

The Trail Glove 6 builds on an iconic line that Merrell has been iterating for years. This version sticks with their departure from truly minimal barefoot footwear to include a bit of arch support, a rock plate, and an aggressive Vibram outsole — akin to the Trail Glove 5, not the Trail Glove 4 — and it does so in a compact, ultralight shoe.

The Trail Glove 6 weighs just 8 ounces per shoe (for a Men’s size 8), and wants to fit you like a pair of socks. There’s a traditional mesh tongue with stretchy elastic connecting to the upper so that your feet slide right in and don’t slip. The rest of the upper is fully mesh, and quite breathable, yet it feels rugged in hand.


Note the elastic sleeve to create sock-like feel. Can be worn with or without socks, though we preferred socks to get the fit a little snugger.

The lace system of the Trail Glove 6 is unique: it features standard laces along the top and then a secondary system underneath, which provides more close-fitting grip and adjustment. This does take a few moments to dial in (and get out of), but once you find the right amount of pressure and support the “Glove” mode engages. The extremely close fit pairs with a very flexible heel collar to move exactly like your foot does.


A double lace system ensures you’ll get glove-like fit and the full mesh upper breathes on hot trail days.

Barefoot or Trail Runner?

The big debate with the Trail Glove line of shoes — and the Trail Glove 6 in particular — is just how “barefoot” it is. The general goal of a barefoot trail runner is to provide a bit of traction and protection for your foot, while providing no other kinds of support. This means no ankle support, no heel-to-toe support (a zero-drop shoe), and relatively low “stack” (how much padding there is between you and the road), and a feeling that’s akin to running barefoot on the trail.

The Merrell Trail Glove 6 provides a surprising amount of support for a barefoot shoe. It uses features commonly found in more robust trail running shoes (and even hiking shoes), like a rock plate, 3 mm deep lugs, and small but noticeable arch support. This is all part of the Barefoot 2 construction, which, like its name, is an enhancement on the barefoot concept.


The Trail Glove 6 is in-between a classic barefoot shoe and a minimalist trail running shoe.

For runners who are transitioning to full barefoot running, or for those who actually need a bit of cushioning and want to take their shoes on extended backcountry hikes and trail runs, the Trail Glove 6 is ideal.

The feel is still barefoot — you can feel the trail beneath your feet, yet the aggressive lugs provide unparalleled traction for scrambling, scree, and hard running. The total stack height is 11 mm, which includes a BLOOM performance midsole, offering some cushion for long days and feet that need it. The Trail Glove 6 is much thinner than any typical trail runner, but a good deal thicker than minimalist barefoot shoes.


The Trail Glove 6 has a grippy Vibram outsole with 3 mm lugs, plus a rock plate.

Finally, the glove-like effect is very present in the Trail Glove 6, and is probably the most classic “barefoot” feature. These shoes suck to your feet, lie flat on the ground, and move like you move. Worn with or without socks, you will feel like you have a slim pair of slippers on (albeit with serious traction), pushing you farther than you thought you could go.



It’s a true hybrid, and in a class of its own. With durability that matches proper trail running shoes, a fit like a true barefoot shoe, and cushion right in the middle, the Trail Glove 6 will do something for your feet that no other shoe can.

See the Men’s Merrell Trail Glove 6

See the Women’s Merrell Trail Glove 6

Who is Merrell?

Merrell is one of the most popular shoe brands in the outdoor world, and has long made footwear that works out of the box in a range of categories, including backpacking, hiking, water sports, and running. Their barefoot running line consists of the Glove and Vapur series.

See the Trail Glove 6 for men and women, and learn more about Merrell.

This article is sponsored by Merrell. Affiliate Policy: This guide contains affiliate links, which help fund our website. When you click on the links to purchase the gear we get a commission, and this goes a long way to creating guides, gear reviews, and other excellent content.

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8 responses to “Meet Merrell Trail Glove 6: The Minimalist, Almost-Barefoot Running Shoe

  1. Harvey Halpernsays:

    Are they really 8 oz. per shoe which is not that light or 8 oz. for a pair ?

    1. Hey Harvey. They are approximately 8 ounces per shoe—plus or minus an ounce or two depending on the size.

  2. Mark Cloutiersays:

    I have owned Trail Glove, 4, 5 (2 pair), and 6 and Vapor glove 4 and Bare Access (2 pair), over 5000 km. I like a minimalist shoe but I run a lot on rocky trails with sharp rocks. Too many foot injuries from smashed toes or puncture type wounds. So I appreciate the compromise of the Trail Gloves with a rock plate. I havn”t found a better minimalist shoe for rough trails.

  3. Josephsays:

    Great shoe. I have owned earlier versions. This one by far is the best and most durable. Light weight is noticeable. Excellent support. Only drawback I have found: more difficult to get the shoe on due to its tight fit.

  4. CSNsays:

    Shameful what they’ve done with this line of shoes. I’ve owned 1, 2, and 5. The early generation changes made some sense with a little more toe and underside protection for those vicious little pebbles, but they just couldn’t help themselves and every new generation has been more bulk and more weight! I am shocked to see them adding >40% more mass per shoe from gen 5 to 6 (5.6oz to 8.0), and it’s laughable that you’re still celebrating them for their lightness! Worse, they’ve gotten no more durable, and my 5s have failed at <250mi. Same old mesh disintegrating at the creases as the ultralight originals. Fool me thrice, … you don't get fooled again. On to something else.

    (Their Vapor Gloves they've mercifully kept truly minimal, but they have little traction and little protection for rocky long distances, so they're not a true replacement.)

    1. Mark Cloutiersays:

      I wore Bare Access, Trail Glove 4, 5 and 6, over 10,00km. Liked 4, the 5 was the worst quality, poor fit.
      Love the Trail Glove 6. Started my 3rd pair. Uppers look new at 1500km . I usually wear a hole thru the sole at the toe at about 1500km. Good rock protection on rough trials.

  5. Kristinasays:

    How are they for water crossings? Do they drain and dry well? Grip on slick rock?

  6. Mark Cloutiersays:

    The drainage is excellent. The soles are a pretty hard Vibram, so they can be slippery on slick rocks. The flexibility of a thin sole however helps the foot grip the rocks. I also have Solomon shoes with large lugs on them, no better on slick rocks in my opinion, better on muddy slopes however.

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