New Balance Minimus MT10 review.
Some of you may be wondering the following: what’s the deal with this barefoot thing? The people at New Balance were wondering the same thing. You’ll see all sorts of shoes hitting the shelves this spring with the intention of attracting runners to this very same question. New Balance, fortunately, happens to be leading this charge in a very committed way. From the New Balance 890 (check my review by typing “890” in the search bar above) to the Minimus, they are putting a serious amount of time, research, and development into letting runners answer that question for themselves. The Minimus is set to launch in early March of this year, and people, it’s worth the wait. For news concerning the development and release of the shoe, head over to www.newbalance.com and search “minimus.”
Following the push to design not only effective but stylish shoes, the Minimus looked pretty cool right out of the box. The laces felt great, the two types of mesh upper looked and felt smooth, and the interior seen below, felt extremely comfortable in the first walk around the house. I couldn’t wait to get them on the trail – it would have to wait, as all of Colorado was snow packed, and while I love my testing job at AGR, I detest frostbite. The treadmill was actually my first test run of these shoes, and it led me to discover how much I liked the even lug pattern on the Vibram outsole. It adapts very well to multiple surfaces (as I would soon find out) and doesn’t feel uneven on road surfaces like the Merrell Trail Glove we recently took out. Typical to New Balance – the heel cup is fairly tight.
Soon enough, we got enough of a thaw to take them out to the trail and gravel. I run 1.5 mile of concrete to get to my trails, and the Minimus just didn’t feel right on the road. It wasn’t one solid thing I could put my finger on, but they just aren’t suited to it. I was a bit dismayed, due to how lively they felt on the treadmill. Once I set foot on the trail, I found out why – the Vibram outsole is actually a bit softer than other outsoles, and is designed to act much like your own bare foot would, gripping different textures on the trail. I was instantly impressed, and put them through single track, gravel, mud, and even some snow pack.
First and foremost, the laces, while being fairly long, don’t tend to get in the way. New Balance selected a beefier lace, but since the 890, I’ve been in love with flat laces – I wish they had opted for those here. The upper mesh, while feeling a bit rugged on the outside, actually felt really smooth on the inside. Obviously, I choose to run sans socks in these, but you can use socks if you feel you need them – we’ll talk later about a possible bonus for socks in these shoes. What I like best about the upper are the two bands of rubber – one lateral to the heel, and one lateral across the forefoot. They really snug up the fit on the shoe. As always, the New Balance N serves as a forefoot wrap. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of the fit, and they didn’t actually change it too much for this shoe.
In reality, the shoe had only a couple of drawbacks: first, after the third trail run, the shoe tended to gap a fair amount around the ankles on the inside. It seems it may be a possible defect in the shoe, but (as I mentioned above) socks may fix this. I won’t blame the fact that they now reek on New Balance, as I’m not a stranger to the occasional foot odor.
Second, the stitching that secures the tongue to the upper is coming undone. I tend to hate shoes that have a tongue which shifts all over, and a major comfort component to this shoe is that the tongue is secured.
All in all, the joy of trail running in a barefoot shoe can’t truly be described – it just has to be felt. New Balance wants to help you get to that place, and they’ve done so with a well conceived addition to their line up. For further info (including a really cool article showing the evolution of the shoe), take my first suggestion and head over to www.newbalance.com.