My dream pair of running shoes are minimalist, ultralight, highly breathable and as long as I'm making demands, affordable. Thing is, I own these shoes and to be perfectly blunt, they're awful. Problem is, they deliver on the promise they make: running with them is like running barefoot. Running barefoot is great. That is until you land on a tiny sharp stone. You know, the kind that your buddy in Nikes doesn't even notice. Depending on the size and shape of the rock, the result is somewhere between painful and dangerous.
So while I still keep an eye out for times when I can run in my ultralights, I knew I needed a sturdier shoe for both road and trail running. Enter the Merrell Men's Ascend Glove running shoe. It promised to be a minimal running shoe that was also trail friendly.
The Merrell's arrived and didn't strike me as being particular 'minimal.' Sure, they seemed relatively lightweight, and they have the 0mm drop between the heal and toe going for them. But still, I was skeptical.
I've now taken them out on multiple runs, walks and even used them to climb Old Rag. Any concerns I have, have since evaporated. I'm officially impressed.
The Merrell's are comfortable to run in and the mesh top provides noticeable breathability. I suppose they aren't ultralight, but they're certainly far lighter than Shira's trail runners. Most importantly, the soles are protective enough to let me tackle any terrain I want. From a rocky path to the construction zone at the end of our street, I no longer have to feel like I'm running through a mine field while out for a jog. They Just Work.
In the end, the 'Ascend Glove' appears to be the right balance of lightweight and minimal construction that I want, and the protection and functionality that I need.