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Merrell Ascend Glove

rated 4.00 of 5 stars
photo: Merrell Ascend Glove trail running shoe

Specs

Men's
Price Historic Range: $57.99-$160.00
Reviewers Paid: $84.00
Women's
Price Historic Range: $59.83-$159.95

Reviews

1 review
5-star:   0
4-star:   1
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

A minimalist shoe that offers a little more cushioning and protection for the bottom of the foot but less ground feel as compared to the trail glove. A good choice for anyone that wants to try a neutral shoe with more protection than a full-on "barefoot shoe", or for running on rough ground.

Pros

  • Zero drop and minimal uppers
  • Protective midsole and some cushioning
  • Very breathable

Cons

  • Less ground feel than a full-on barefoot shoe
  • "out of print"

I have been trail running in Merrell's "barefoot shoes" (right up there with "jumbo shrimp" at the top of the oxymoron list) for about four years now: two pairs of original Trail Gloves, a pair of the Train Flux Gloves, and now a pair of Trail Glove 2s.

Those shoes all have thin soles that allow you to feel the ground, but when I have encountered rough conditions, especially sharp gravel or rocks, I have thought about trying something that offers a little more protection. So when I saw these on sale I decided to give them a try.

The are the precursors of the newer Barefoot Run Access shoes, so my comments probably apply to those as well. I broke these in on the first stretch of the John Muir Trail, carrying 35-40 pounds, and have since run a few hundred kilometers in them.

Trail Glove on the left, Ascend on the right.
IMG_0244.jpg

While the uppers have the same minimalist look as the Trail Glove, the real difference is in the sole. The Ascend has a broad outsole that will leave a print more like a traditional shoe, while on the Trail Glove the tread tapers to a thin strip under the arch and will leave more of a barefoot print. So the Ascend has a "flatter", less responsive feel.

The Ascend also has a tougher rock plate and a more cushioning (but still nothing like a mainstream shoe). With the Trail Gloves you can feel a lot of the subtleties in the ground, down to small pebbles underfoot. If those pebbles get a bit bigger and sharper like, say, coarse road gravel, they can  start to hurt. While I can't say I have ever bruised the bottoms of my feet in Trail Gloves, the Ascends offer a little relief when the going gets really rough.

While it looks like the soles might have a little better traction than the Trail Gloves, I can't say I really notice a difference. 

I really like the fit of these shoes. They are wide in front and shaped nicely around the toes so that even if I leave them a little loose they are still comfy running downhill.

The uppers are made of a tough mesh material that breathes well. While I usually wear socks, they are quite comfortable without. So far they are holding up well — while the black toe cover has some exposed stitching, there is not a lot of exposed stitching along the instep side of the shoe, which is often where things begin to fall apart.

I have beens switching off between the two models, and while I prefer the  group feel of the trail gloves on my home trails, I find the Ascends quite comfortable and will use them on rougher mountain runs and day hikes.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $84

g00se

Nice review, BigRed. I'd love to try them, but with my flatfeet, I better stay with the arch support.


6 years ago
TJ1984

Great review. I really wanted to get these but they were just too narrow fitting for me. I ended up with the Proterra sport instead. I think the whole line of minimalist shoes from Merrell is quite nice!


6 years ago

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