My not so secret love affair with a shoe

My very well work Merrell Trail Gloves

These Merrell Trail Gloves are my favorite footwear I have ever owned. Can’t you tell by the wearing out on the bottom (see blow). Check out below what a new pair look like, then go back up and look at mine again. I am going to tell you about them then give you some tips and advice because I know you will want to buy some.

What the Trail Gloves look like before I got my money worth

I first got my Merrell’s last summer and these were my first “barefoot shoes.” Since then I am sure I have worn them pretty close to every day and have hundreds of walking, hiking and running miles on them. I still remember the first time I picked them up and thought there was nothing to the shoe. I have been pleasantly surprised how well they have held up.

So what do I like most about them?

These Merrell’s are super light and give you a feeling you have nothing on your feet. Yet the viburnum sole does keep you foot protected while hiking rugged trails. The Merrell’s also had ample traction, and I say had because as you can see I got my money out of them. I still use this pair to go hiking a few times a month.

One of the reasons these shoes feel like you have nothing on your feet is because of the wide toe box. At first I was not so sure about the roominess of the toe box, but now I get frustrated when I put anything else on my feet because a normal toe box feels so restrictive now.

So when do I actually wear barefoot shoes?

Honestly pretty much every day I leave the house I have my Merrell’s on. The two exceptions are when I need a dress shoe then I wear my cowboy boots, or when I am doing a distance run, then I wear my Saucony Kinvara 2′s. For my everyday shoe, for a hiking shoe and for when I go to my Crossfit gym it’s my Merrell’s. That is about 90% of the time.

Tips, tricks and advice

When you are buying your Merrell’s, make sure you go on the large end. I assume their sizes are still in full sizes and not half sizes, as this was the case when I got mine. I usually wear a 9.5. When I tried them on the 9 felt perfect, and the 10 felt large. So naturally the 9 was the option I chose.

In the first week I needed to wash my Merrell’s, more on this below. I washed them in cold water and let them air dry and the shrunk. Not much, just a tiny bit, but now my 9′s that fit perfectly were a little small. I was able to get a pair of 10′s, which I have washed dozens of times, and they fit perfectly. So if you are a half, I would round up. Of course, your results may vary.

The first few days I owned the Merrell’s we went for a six mile hike. A six mile hike is normally not an issue, but with this being the first time in zero drop flat shoes, my calves were locked up for the next two days. I think they are fine to wear as an everyday shoe right out of the box, but for any long hikes, walks or runs make sure you break them in slowly and give your body time to adjust. Just about a month later I did an 11 mile hike, and I had no issues at all.

If you are not a barefoot shoe wearer now and you decide to become so beware, your friends and family may start giving you strange looks after a couple of days. No, this is not for the way you look, but the way your feet stink. Oh, and stink they will. Hence the early washing of the shoes.

Why does this happen? I have no clue, but it will. Don’t fret, there is an easy solution. It will take about two weeks, but it’s worth it.

First thing you need to do as soon as this starts is wash your shoes in cold water and let them air dry. Also, I recommend from day one until this phase passes at night keep a dryer sheet in each shoe overnight. Another must, that was taught to me by my barefoot friend Tyler, is every night when you are sitting in front of the tv or computer soak your feet for a half hour in warm water with a little shampoo and a drop of Tea Tree Oil. Tea Tree Oil can be purchased at Walgreen’s. It is not cheap, but a $10 bottle I purchased 10 months ago is still half full.

After about two weeks of soaking nightly the odor was gone, and I stopped. Again, I am not sure why, but I no longer question it, I just go with it.

I cannot stress enough how much I love these shoes. I do not see myself owning anything but Merrell Trail Gloves as my everyday and hiking shoes in the near future. Yes I know, it’s time to get a new pair for hiking as the tread is gone. It’s in the budget, and we are saving the pennies and hope to have my new pair soon. When I do you are sure to hear about it if you follow me on Google+ or Twitter.

First Photo is mine, second is from Jason Fitzgerald

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