An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Altra Instinct and Merrel Trail Glove, side by side

One of the recurring questions about the Altra Instinct is "just how wide IS the toe box?"
I'll attempt to answer that question, and make some direct comparisons between the Instinct and the Trail Glove.

First, my Altra Instincts are a size 10.5, while the Merrell Trail Gloves are a 1o. I consider them to fit equally well on my feet, which aren't considered wide, but feel wide inside shoes (I like to have forefoot room, for whatever reason).

Today it was asked on the Born to Run forum if some one could just take the insole out of an Instinct and lay it on a measuring tape. So here it is -- it measures out to almost exactly 4" in width at what would be about the widest part of the metatarsals. This is the "Support" insole, which is the same width as the "Strengthen" insole, just with more contour at the heel and arch.

Also, I set the Trail Glove onto the Instinct insole to compare the shapes and sizes directly.

You can see that the Instinct insole is slightly narrower than the Trail Glove, which might partially be due to comparing the inside of the Instinct to the outside of the Trail Glove. Interestingly enough, when on my feet, the Instinct feels every bit as roomy as the Trail Glove. One of the reasons for this, I believe, is because of a small difference at the big toe. You can see in the third picture this slight difference -- the Trail Glove curves inward slightly from the ball of the foot, where the Instinct continues to widen. I think this aspect of the Instinct allows for a little more toe splay, which makes the Instinct FUNCTIONALLY wider than the Trail Glove.

In the end, though, these shoes are meant to address different needs -- the Trail Glove is a trail shoe, and it shines in that environment. The Instinct is more of a road shoe, with good cushion (not squishy like the Kinvara at all). I've run with the Instincts on trails, and they perform quite well. Around here (Cascade foothills), "trails" mostly means soft dirt. I just prefer the Trails Gloves in that environment. I've done all of my longest runs in the Instincts, because they've involved mostly roads.

With my trail race on Saturday, I'll be wearing the Trail Gloves. Unless something else comes up that absolutely blows my socks off, though, I'll be wearing the Instincts for my coming half marathons.


- said...

How do the Trail Gloves perform over rocky roads?

brider (aka David) said...

Most of my lunchtime runs are on fire roads, some rather rocky. Fist-sized rocks half-buried are common, with lots of smaller loose stuff. Never had a problem at the metatarsals (I suspect the rock plate really helps here), but occasionally one will hit the arch just right, and that's kinda painful.

Anonymous said...

When will you post again ? Been looking forward to this !