Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Merrell Barefoot Kids Trail Glove Review

This is a post for parents who wonder if the Merrel Barefoot Kids Trail Gloves are really worth it.

Merrell Barefoot Kids Trail Glove

In a word, yes. If a shoe were challenged to be a shoe while not getting in the way of allowing the wearer to be a kid, that shoe would be the Barefoot Kids Trail Glove. I'll elaborate further.

First, let's talk about kids. Rather, let me write a few words about parenting kids and outfitting said kids with shoes.

As a parent, you tend to want what's best for your children. You become a student of the fictional children from studies and TV shows; arming yourself with the theories that describe how kids should behave, how long they should sleep, what they should and shouldn't eat, and how they should dress.

Of course, your kids never behave, sleep, eat, or dress they way they should. By the time you've had the sandwich-versus-muffin-for-lunch argument for the billionth time, you're pretty much relieved that the children — your children — eat anything at all.

You take any semblance of parenting success that you can get. And, one of those successes most heartily enjoyed is when you find a decent pair of shoes for the kiddos.

The thing about kids' shoes is that kids generally don't want to put them on, not when they're very young, anyway. That means you have to do it — every time. And, that's one more thing to add to the list of chores required just to get everyone out of the freakin' house for a fifteen-minute trip to the grocery store.

Dog chews Crocs
Chews Crocs at every opportunity

Alternatively, you can introduce shoes that are easy for even the most lazy unpracticed shoe wearers to place on their feet. Crocs and their ilk are a popular option in this case. They're simple as hell to put on and take off, kind of flexible, and aesthetically pleasing to children. We've had many Croc-ish shoes for the children in this household.

Emphasis on had.

Crocs are so easy to take on and off that they get lost fairly easily. It's happened many times while children run across the yard or through the park. The foam sandals are also easily destroyed by pets with a penchant for shoe chewing. Seriously. A dog can chew a Croc to bits in a matter of seconds.

So, in spite of their convenience factor, Croc-ish shoes are not necessarily an ideal choice for active children. Enter the Merrell Barefoot Kids product line.

As a minimally-inclined(?) runner, I knew that the concept and construction of the Merrell Barefoot Kids shoes would be something I'd want for my own lads. I'd been hoping to find a foot-friendly shoe that my kids could wear when needed. And, the quest had been difficult until the Kids Trail Gloves appeared.

But, as a cheapskate, I had a hard time justifying a $60 purchase for shoes that my kids may not even wear after a week. They'd accepted foam sandals for the time being. And, who was I to push my luck by trying another shoe on them?

Merrell Barefoot Kids Trail Glove

Fortunately, a savvy and generous representative of Merrell took note of my plight. She said, "How about you figure out which size Merrell Kids Trail Gloves would fit your kiddos."

Long story short: I arrive home from work one day to find Middle Child showing me his new Merrells. He's beaming as he tells me that they're made for running really fast. And, then he runs really fast across the yard. And, dammit, those are just the cutest kids shoes ever!

That was seven months ago. To date, not a single Merrell Barefoot Kids shoe has fallen off, been lost, or chewed to pieces by a certain lab-hound mix (and, don't think she hasn't tried!) in this household.

Practicality aside, my boys love the shoes!

Middle Child says his favorite things about his Merrells are "The color and that they're for running fast."

Oldest Child says his favorite things about his Merrells are, "That they can be worn without socks, and they're good for running."

(I swear, I didn't tell them to say anything about running)

In short the Merrell Barefoot Kids Trail Gloves meet this parent's criteria for ideal kids shoes:

  • The velcro strapping apparatus means the shoes are easy for my boys to put on their feet.
  • They're flexible and designed without a superfluous rise in the heel, "zero-drop", if you will.
  • They feature a wide toe box, which allows kid-shaped feet to continue developing properly.
  • As you'd expect, the Merrell Kids Trail Gloves are incredibly durable.
  • They're suitable for pretty much every activity in which a kid participates.
  • My kids like them. And, that's saying something!
  • The Merrell Kids Gloves are machine washable. Just throw them in with a load of towels, or whatever, and wash them using your favorite detergent on a regular or delicate cycle. Don't put them in the dryer, though. I stuff them with newspaper and let them air dry overnight.

That last point is pretty important for two reasons:

First, kids get shoes really dirty. They step in anything. And, it's just easier to wash that anything off in the washing machine rather than scrape and scrub the crap off with a toothbrush.

Second, the antimicrobial insole touted on the product page is either somewhat faulty, or my oldest son's feet are severely toxic. After a week of wearing his Merrells sans socks, the aroma of Oldest Child's feet could clear a room. I mean, omg! OMG!

Middle Child's foot odor is not nearly as bad when he wears the Barefoot Kids Gloves without socks. So, it's clear that the smell a person creates with his shoes sans socks is an individual thing. And, of course, socks really help out with this unfortunate phenomenon.

Just be advised that, if you're not sure whether your kid is prone to stinky feet, you'll find out after he wears the Merrell Barefoot Kids Trail Gloves sans socks for a few days. Luckily, you can wash the smell away in the washing machine.

So, are the almost-perfect kids shoes worth $60? That's up to you, of course. But, after observing my own active boys do everything outside in their Merrell Kids Trail Gloves for several months, I would definitely say that these are worth their suggested retail price.

Admittedly, as a frugal shopper, I'll avoid paying full price while I have the patience to wait for a sale. But, that's just me.

If you need new shoes for your kids now, I'm confident that you wouldn't regret purchasing the Merrell BKTGs (the product name could stand to be shorter, couldn't it?).

Of course, Merrell has gone and complicated the decision by introducing the Barefoot Flux Glove Kids shoes. Those would require tying laces, though.

Anyway, the Barefoot Kids Trail Glove is available in infant sizes (3 - 9.5), little kids sizes (10 - 13), and regular kids sizes (1 - 7). There are lots of colorways from which to choose, too.

Thanks for reading!

After months of wear, these durable shoes aren't even close to falling apart. The outsole is quite worn. But, not terribly.

Oh, the Barefoot Kids Trail Gloves have a Vibram sole, by the way.

Product provided by Merrell.


  1. Yep, those little shoes are nearly indestructible! Our kids have had them for nearly a year and a half, and they are still going strong, although the older boy outgrew his pair this Summer. Wish I could buy $60 shoes like that...

    1. Yeah, I'm really impressed by these tough little shoes. It's nice to have something that just plain works for a kid.

  2. My kid's love them too - my son's are now in the Flux Gloves, but luckily my oldest can tie his shoes and the toddler version still has velcro. If we could eliminate shoe tying, bathing, and making of breakfast parenting would be a lot easier...

    1. Good points all around, Pete! I'd add bedtime to that list. ;-)

  3. Very fine shoes. It will be so choices for baby.

  4. Thanks for this review. I just purchased a pair of the Trail Gloves for my little guy and he absolutely loves them. He say it makes him run faster.

    I was so happy to find a pair on sale at Chicago Premium Outlets during marathon weekend. We don't have these kinds of choices in Canada. Simon has been running in a pair of Geox light-up shoes, which has very thick heels and I noticed that it was changing his foot strike ever so slightly. Now that he's back on a minimal shoe, I see that he's running normally again.

    I wanted to do a review of these but you kinda covered it all.

    Thanks for another excellent review!

  5. My kids both have wide feet. I initially bought the Trail Glove for my son and the Flux Glove for my daughter. My daughter immediately loved hers but my son said the Trail Glove felt too narrow. You can see the way the two models are constructed how that would be a problem.
    So we exchanged the Trail Gloves for the Flux and my son is happy now. The only downside is that the Flux doesn't come in the black/orange, which would have been perfect (he's a Giants fan). Maybe next year...

  6. love it to wear shoes without socks. Wish more kids would do. And teens too. Its much more comfortable and looks ways better.

  7. I bought my 8 year old son a pair. He wore them for one evening and complained that they hurt the back of his ankles. The shoes fit great and he has plenty of toe room, but the back does rub against his tendon and cause it to get red. He wants so separately to wear them, as do I (they aren't cheap!). Any one else had an issue with the band around the top of the ankle digging in? Any ideas on how to fix that?

  8. I bought my 8 year old son a pair. He wore them for one evening and complained that they hurt the back of his ankles. The shoes fit great and he has plenty of toe room, but the back does rub against his tendon and cause it to get red. He wants so separately to wear them, as do I (they aren't cheap!). Any one else had an issue with the band around the top of the ankle digging in? Any ideas on how to fix that?



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