Winter Running Shoes – A Barefoot Runner’s Dilemma

Winter Running with the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove

Now that we’re a few weeks into December, I’m really starting to notice the cold during my runs. Thermal layers, gloves, and a hat are all standard attire for winter running in Canada, but what do other barefoot runners do? This is my first winter running after transitioning to barefoot, and my feet are really starting to get cold slogging through icy slush and huge puddles in my Vibram FiveFingers. I really needed to find some solid winter running shoes.

Winter Running Shoes?

I checked out the brand new Vibram Lontra but they didn’t fit quite right. The store only had a size bigger than I needed, and even with toe socks there was just too much room in the front. My left pinky toe actually hurt while walking around in them. I wanted something with a little more traction than my year old Bikila’s so I decided to try on the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove. I loved them right away! They’re pretty close to the VFF’s in terms of feel – the sole is even made by Vibram – but they offer a little more protection. They’re super lightweight, ultra flexible, and my toes have plenty of room to move around and spread out. I also picked up some wool socks to go with them. Of course I haven’t had a chance to run in them yet, but I’m going to try them out on the treadmill at home and see how it goes. Luckily I have a few weeks to return them if they don’t pass the test.

The Verdict

This is the closest to an actual running shoe than I’ve worn in quite some time so I’m a little worried about my form. I read some great reviews on the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove from fellow VFF wearers who use them as winter running shoes, and I hope to do some actual trail running in them come spring (provided they work out.) Stay tuned for the results!

Updated January 5, 2013

We’ve had our first significant snowfall of the season so I finally got to do a proper test of the Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves. As of this writing I’ve done about 5 or 6 runs in the snow, with 2 of them being on uncleared roads and sidewalks. They provide pretty good traction on the ice and packed down snow and I wear wool socks to keep my feet warm and dry. These shoes provide enough of a barefoot feel that I should be able to run outdoors all winter and not be worried about my form (or my feet freezing).