Merrell Bare Access vs. Trail Glove (Minimalist Shoe Comparison)

When it comes to lightweight trail running shoes, Merrell is one of the first brands that come to mind. They’ve been striving for years, with many different iterations of shoes, to come up with the perfect running shoe to emulate barefoot running while still providing impact protection.

Here we will be comparing two of Merrell’s most popular barefoot running shoe lines: The Bare Access vs Trail Glove, to help you decide which trail shoe is best for your running needs.

Merrell Bare Access

Merrell Men's Bare Access XTR Trail Running Shoe, Navy, 10


  • Price Point: $55-$100
  • Weight: 8.25oz
  • Lug Depth: 4mm
  • Drop: 0mm Drop
  • Cushion: 8mm cushion
  • Stack Height: 15.5mm


The Merrell Bare Access is a barefoot running shoe that straddles the line between completely minimalist and normal trail running shoes. It has a little more heft to it than the Trail Gloves, and that’s intentional.

With the Bare Access, you can tackle those trails that would otherwise be too uncomfortable to run in a barefoot shoe. The Vibram outsole provides exceptional tread, even on wet trails, and the thicker lug depth will keep your sensitive feet safe from rogue sticks or rocks.

Unfortunately, though wet trails don’t pose too much of a problem, muddy trails are the downfall for this shoe. Stability suffers when mud enters the picture.

Owners of the shoe report that the soles, while thicker, are nice and firm, allowing you to get all the feedback you need from the trail.


  • More protection and stability from a thicker Vibram outsole
  • Great trail feedback and traction
  • Still feels like a barefoot shoe, despite being a bit more substantial


  • The sole can be slippery on man-made surfaces like floors and roads
  • Heavier than the Trail Glove
  • Can’t handle very muddy trails


The Merrell Bare Access barefoot running shoe is a superb choice for long-distance trail runners that prefer routes that are a little wilder, and therefore, will require a bit more protection.

These shoes are breathable, protective without being restrictive, and have good cushioning on the heel and traction in most situations.

These are the minimalist shoes for you if you’re looking for a barefoot experience without the pain from stepping on errant trail obstacles.

Merrell Trail Glove

Merrell Men's Trail Glove 5 Sneaker, Black, 10.5 M US


  • Price Point: $65-$120
  • Weight: 7oz
  • Lug Depth: 3mm
  • Drop: 0mm
  • Cushion: 3mm
  • Stack Height: 11.5mm


Merrell’s most popular line of barefoot trail running shoes is no doubt the Trail Glove. This shoe has just enough padding and protection to keep your feet protected while still feeling as minimalist as possible.

Compared to the 8mm cushion in the Bare Access, you’re definitely going to feel more in the Trail Gloves, and depending on what you’re wanting out of your barefoot running shoe, this can be either good or bad.

They also have a Vibram sole, so the grip seems to be comparable to the Bare Access. This means great tread on wet trails, but a slippery run in excess mud. They’re a good option for minimalist running.

All in all, there’s a reason why the Trail Gloves are one of the top-selling barefoot running shoes around. Their balance of protection, wearability, and trail feedback is incredible.


  • Great trail feedback
  • Amazingly lightweight
  • Very minimalist while still offering protection


  • Not as much protection
  • A little pricier
  • Uncomfortable on very rough trails


The Merrell Trail Glove is a streamlined version of the typical barefoot running shoe, complete with all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from Merrell.

If you’re used to the roughness of your bare feet on the trails, but just want to be a little safer on your feet and toes, then the Trail Glove is for you.

Final Thoughts – Bare Access vs. Trail Glove

The Bare Access and the Trail Glove are similar barefoot trail running shoes. Both are made by Merrell, but subtly different enough from each other to make a difference.

If you’re new to trail running, prefer rougher trails, or just need a little more protection, go with the Merrell Bare Access.

If you prefer the closest experience to real barefoot running as possible and don’t mind a little less protection, then go with the Merrel Trail Glove.