Merrell has made a big name for itself in the minimalist shoe industry. They provide shoes that embody the benefits of the movement while still looking great. The whole idea behind minimalist footwear is that nature designed your foot perfectly and no shoe company can hope to improve on that. Just the opposite, actually: by adding all the bells and whistles, they actually do your footwear a disservice that can do more harm than good. Like all the other muscles, bones, joints and ligaments in your body, those in your foot benefit from regular exercise. When you add a shoe to the equation in the hopes of helping, you’re actually taking many of those aforementioned mechanics out of the picture—fatiguing some and overstressing others. This could be especially true with a sport as physically demanding as parkour. If you’re a traceur thinking about exploring the benefits of minimalist footwear, the Merrell Trail Glove may be the perfect shoe to start with and could possibly be the only one you ever need.

With a name like “trail glove” you should expect these shoes to provide a superior fit. Its omni-fit technology means the lacing system is designed to provide a comfortable, yet secure and tight fit. However, unlike a lot of minimalist shoes, it provides a wider toe area to let your toes spread comfortably. This helps not only involve the muscles in your foot and lower leg involved in gripping, but helps your toes avoid getting blisters. On top of the fit, the Merrell Trail Glove’s Microfiber Airmesh upper body provides plenty of breathability to keep your feet comfortable, fresh and cool. Its foot bed comes treated with an antimicrobial solution that aims to tame odor.

Part of the shoes comfort comes from the minimalist aspect that allows for superior flexibility. However, with features like a rear foot synthetic leather sling it provides plenty of stability for a stable and calm ride that does away with bulky inner features common to more traditional sports shoes.

The Merrell Trail Glove presents a good deal of durability as well. Unlike a lot of its traditional sports shoe rivals, the shoe was designed for running outside in nature—on trails, in the woods, through mountain ranges. So while it wasn’t designed for the urban jungle, it was still built with stress in mind. This durability also results in added safety for your foot. While you won’t find a Merrell Trail Glove ad boasting about support, it was designed with the jagged rocks and random shreds of wood you can expect to dot a forest trail. The toe of the shoe is made out of fused rubber, so it should do fine when it comes up against concrete and metal. Behind that feature is a millimeter of shock absorption material which allows for your foot’s normal flexibility while distributing impact for your foot’s protection.

With the stripped down design, you can expect your Merrell Trail Glove to lack the weight of its traditional opponents. Each shoe weighs in at just 6.2 ounces, adding to the feel of thin air around your feet. Though it does have the aforementioned features mostly for your foot’s protection, there is zero drop and it lacks the arch support of so many of its rivals. For a traceur this means a lighter shoe to achieve jumps with. Its minimalist design also promises improved control and feel, without losing the protection your foot needs.

Like all minimalist shoes, the Merrell Trail Glove does not come cheap. It can easily cost more than a hundred dollars and even closer to a hundred and fifty. But again, this is typical of all minimalist shoes and will be a challenge you’ll eventually need to confront if you wish to get into running with barefoot shoes.

The other challenge typical to getting into minimalist shoes is the transition period between leaving more traditional shoes to start using footwear like the Merrell Trail Glove. You will end up sore and possibly injured if you try immediately running with the Merrell Trail Glove if this is your first barefoot running shoe. Luckily Merrell provides plenty of information on how to make the transition safely.

If you have been thinking about applying barefoot running to your parkour practice, this is definitely a great shoe to try. You’ll want to make sure the cost is in your budget and that you spend enough time switching over safely. Otherwise, the Merrell Trail Glove is a great piece of footwear for any traceur.

This shoe’s overall score is a 9.2/10.