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Merrell Trail Glove 7 vs 6: The Death of a Shoe?

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Merrell recently released the new Merrell Trail Glove 7. But is it an improvement on the Merrell Trail Glove 6, which we reviewed a while back? We tested a pair to find out.

The Merrell Trail Glove 6 (Left) and 7 (right).
The Merrell Trail Glove 6 (Left) and 7 (right).

Merrell Trail Glove 7 vs 6: Features

To say the Trail Glove 6 had mixed reviews would be putting it mildly. While the shoe was meant to be a minimalist, barefoot style trail runner, Merrell seemed to go in the opposite direction with a harder, narrower sole and extreme arch (read our review of the Trail Glove 6 here).

And if that weren’t enough, complaints poured in about the shoe’s lousy construction. In fact, after our initial review of the 6, it wasn’t long before my shoe started coming apart. I was getting holes in multiple parts of the mesh and glued portions of the shoe just weren’t holding up to everyday wear.

However, To Merrell’s credit, when it came to design the Trail Glove 7, the brand pivoted hard and came up with a completely new design that seemingly eliminates all of the issues people had with the 6.

The Merrell Trail Glove 7.
The Merrell Trail Glove 7.

One of which was a multi-zone approach to the tread. Because there are so many exposed edges and separate pieces, each section is more susceptible to peeling than if it were all one piece. On top of that, the soft foam that wraps around the arch comes down so far that it can easily get chewed up by the trail.

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The solution on the 7? A single, continuous, more durable outsole that also wraps up and around the arch.

Speaking of the arch, the mid-foot is so narrow on the 6, that it creates pretty aggressive arch support, an odd feature for a shoe claiming to be minimalist. It’s something I did get used to after a lot of wear, or maybe I just broke it in, but either way, it wasn’t a great feeling initially, and Alisha, even more of a barefoot shoe fan than me, hated it.

The Merrell Trail Glove 7.
The Merrell Trail Glove 7.

The new 7’s, on the other hand, have a wider midfoot with a less aggressive arch. This, combined with a firm outsole, makes this new version a perfect transition shoe if you’re interested in barefoot shoes: There’s just enough density and support so you’re not feeling every stick and rock under your feet, but they are still light, flexible, and thin.

Which is nice, because going straight into running or hiking in true barefoot shoes like barefoot hiking sandals or the Vivobarefoot Primus Trail, which we included in our latest list of the best sustainable trail runners, can be a long process.

But that’s another subject for another time. Back to the features of the Trail Glove 7, which features a larger, wrap-around toe cap, which should be less susceptible to peeling, a slightly extended mudguard, more padding around the ankle, and even easier-to-thread shoelace eyelets.

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Sporting the Merrell Trail Glove 7.
Sporting the Merrell Trail Glove 7.

Merrell Trail Glove 7 Performance

As for actual performance, the Vibram sole performed great. I had no issues on soft dirt and they felt pretty solid on slick rock. The sole is fairly firm for a barefoot-style shoe, but flexes just enough to give you some of that barefoot feel. Again, this is a solid transition shoe.

As in, if you’re already running or hiking in Xero Shoes or Vivos or other barefoot style shoes with serious groundfeel, these are going to feel stiff and a bit more inflexible. But if you want a better balance of support and protection, these are an excellent choice.

Bottom Line

Frankly, the Merrell Trail Glove 7 is one of my favorite all-around shoes to wear on and off the trail. And it’s still sustainable: the mesh, laces, webbing, insole and lining are made of 100% recycled materials and the foam in the insole and the entire outsole is 30% recycled materials.

Basically, Merrell listened to complaints about the 6, went back to the drawing board, and made a better shoe. So if you were a long time Trail Glove fan but were put off by the 6, now’s the time to come back and try again.

Want to see how other new versions of old shoes stack up? Check out our review of the Minimalist Altra Lone Peak 6 vs 7!

This post contains affiliate links, which means when you clicky-click and “add to cart” we may receive a small commission. But don’t worry; it doesn’t cost you any extra. Win.


Wednesday 20th of March 2024

Wish they would just go back to 3. Such a simple show that just worked, at least with my feet.

Alisha McDarris

Thursday 21st of March 2024

Sometimes writing to the brand works in these situations! If enough people tell them they prefer a previous fit or design, it can be enough to move the needle and inspire a redesign!