Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: New Balance Minimus Zero Trail

Back in March, my running shoe arsenal achieved full minimalism with the addition of the New Balance Minimus Zero trail shoes (model MT00). Hitherto, my trail shoes were the grandfather of the MT00s and predecessor of the Minimus line, the MT101s.

While fairly light compared to more traditional trail shoes, the MT101s are almost twice as heavy as the MT00s, which are the lightest shoe I own, weighing less than 5 ounces. The MT101s also featured a 7-millimeter heel-drop, whereas the MT00s are zeroed out. Finally, the late-model shoes featured a stiff sole with a "protective" rock plate to avoid punctures, but these new shoes are just asking to get punctured with their extra bendable soles.

Here's how the MT00s looked right out of the box ...
Brand new and full of potential.
And here's how they look now ...
Not so shiny.
And here's what the soles look like ...
Traction without substance.
And here's the standard minimalist shoe roll-up test ...
Inception shoe is a shoe within a shoe.
In the last photo, you can see the small hole near the big toe from when I tripped (but did not fall) over a tree stump. The mesh is of the rip-stop variety, so the hole should get no bigger. (We'll see about that.)

These shoes have now traveled more than 60 miles, over Midwestern terrain, mostly single-track trails and including one race. The wet soil this time of year provides perfect testing conditions for judging traction and draining capabilities--both are superb.

In my First Taste impressions, I was concerned about running without socks with the seemingly abrasive interior of the shoe. So far, it hasn't been much of a problem, with the exception of a small blister on my right instep after one of my first warmer weather runs. As summer approaches, this concern will be completely vetted, as I log longer miles in hotter temperatures.

Quite frankly, I love these shoes. The MT00s rank well with my 3F testing points, providing a zero-dropped sole, extreme flexibility and a comfortable amount of ground feel. They go on my feet and then get out of the way.

The toe box is wide enough for my feet, although I've read some complaints that the shoes were too narrow. However, I believe New Balance could have made the toe more rounded, as I find it to be a bit long at times (see the part where I tripped over a tree trunk).

Furthermore, whatever the upper material is, it's perfect for muddy trails. The muck doesn't cake on, so you don't feel like you're running with Mob-style cement shoes, and it rinses off afterward with just warm water. You should have seen how gross they looked after last Tuesday's trail run, but look at them now!

The MT00s retail for $109.99, which yes we can all complain about minimalist shoes with maximal prices, but that's the nature of the shoe business. If you don't like it, go barefoot--it's fun.

[Drunkard's note: Bought these with my own dollars from Second Sole in Akron, but I did get a bit of a discount because they didn't have another pair of shoes I wanted to try in stock.]


misszippy said...

Good review! I just bought a pair of the winter trail shoe from NB Minimus line (they were about $40 off b/c they were clearing them). I haven't had a chance to try them yet on the trails, but I'm anxious to get out there. Glad you found a pair you like.

Anonymous said...

You are turning in to the Minimalist Shoe Guy!