New Balance Minimus Review


Pic By Megan Walsh

Its kind of odd for me to be doing a shoe review on some levels. I’m an advocate for NOT wearing shoes as much as possible so its ironic. But the reality is we still need shoes for lots of our different adventures. I was driven to write this review out of pure unabashed respect for the performance and quality for the New Balance Minimus. This is minimalist shoe done right. Simple and brutally effective. Here is an overview of my 14 plus months with them.

Tester Profile

I often read reviews on products before getting them and its really hard to get a feel for how something will work for me if I have nothing in common with a tester. So here are some stats on me so you have an idea of where I’m coming from as a tester.
Height 6-2 weight 180 age 40 years young
Area(s) tested-Northern New England, mostly Vermont. Hilly terrain, often wet and rocky.
Occupation-Outdoor Movement Guide/Trainer/Instructor/Course builder and designer-I take people outside and get them moving or moving better ideally. I am a big proponent of the barefoot/minimalist movement and am usually one or the other when inside and out.
Sports- Surfing, Mountain Biking, Adventure and Obstacle Races, Snowboarder and an odd torture fest here and there.(Notice I did not say running.)
Main uses for product-Day to day outdoor dynamic movement, obstacle races including the Spartan Beast and this years Spartan Ultra Beast which ended up being 30 plus miles for me this year(long story)and one 30 mile off road race/shuffle. Use as my backup bouldering shoe too. Even used them for a water shoe a few times and even some trail work including chainsaw work but can’t recommend them for that.
Torture level-I’m really pretty hard on gear as being active outside is not only my biggest passion, it’s also my livelihood. I could fill pages of bad reviews of products that do NOT hold up but don’t have time or desire to go there.
Similar products used-Vibram Five Finger Spyridon which I train in occasionally and the  Merrell Trail Glove(wore them for a day and they just didn’t fit right).

**I’m not a runner by any means but do it as much is required to stay in tune for Obstacle Races. If I had to analyze my own gait, it would be “moderately effective but not as efficient as possible..needs work”. As an athlete I’m a bit of a generalist. I’ll do the Presidential Traverse with friends on a Friday and surf on saturday and downhill mountain bike on Sunday. I do barefoot live, alot and have built up to using a minimalist shoe and recommend that everyone does the same, and if not, tread lightly until you have.
pic by Megan Walsh

Overview

According to the New Balance website, the Minimus was “The Minimus was designed not to chase trends, but rather to satisfy individuals looking to achieve a closer-to-barefoot running experience, by encouraging a more natural foot position and foot-strike. The minimalist approach to footwear sheds not only weight, but also convention, in pursuit of a truly minimalist feel.”

Ultra running uber man Anton Krupicka was a driving force behind the shoe coming to market after underground testing and development of the shoe. Anton is the kind of guy that us here at Mocean365 relate to and his involvement in the product lent credibility to the shoe for sure.

Features


  • NB Minimus is a whole new approach to footwear, a place on the spectrum from barefoot running to the traditional maximum-cushioning running shoe. Inspired by Good Form Running and designed to be worn with or without socks. With only a 4mm drop from heel to toe, as little as a third of that of a traditional running shoe, the NB Minimus collection holds a world of discovery for neutral runners; additionally, Good Form Running teaches methods of improvement for those seeking to conquer gait issues.
  • Synthetic/mesh upper provides lightweight comfort and support
  • Odor resistant
  • Deconstructed ACTEVA® midsole provides great flexibility and a featherweight cushion
  • Minimal Vibram® outsole for lightweight traction and durability


Since launching this product, NB has expanded its product line to include several options of the Minimus including the Zero and even a cold weather version called the 1010.

The shoe that I’ve been testing for the last year is called the MT10 and according the NB is,
“An entirely different approach to trail running, the MT10 Minimus Trail takes the proven versatile durability of a Vibram® outsole and combines it with a fitted, minimalist upper that’s comfortable with or without socks.
TYPE:Minimal
WEIGHT:213 grams (7.5 oz)

Fit and Feel

Slipping your feet into any shoe seems to be hit or miss and that makes sense. Our feet are pretty unique and host a sensory arsenal of over 70,000 nerve endings. For me this means that the Merrell Trail Glove and The Vibram Five Finger’s do not fit particularly well. The Minimus on the other hand was pretty much love at first fit. So I can rant and rave all I want about the fit and feel but its going to be a unique experience for you based upon YOUR foot. I do know though that several of my training clients have purchased the shoe based upon my recommendation and all of them report the fit and feel for them was the same.

Performance

Well we can talk about technology all we want and why they should work and all kinds of marketing hyperbole. The reality is how do these suckers work, day in and day out? Well the answer is simple..these shoes excel in all minimalist applications that I’ve been able to put them through. From wet terrain where i needed traction to rocky terrain where i needed protection, these suckers seem to always have my back, or my bottom. Look at these treads!
They also shed mud well and drain so amazingly well which makes them a perfect shoe
for obstacle racing. While you have all heard of the obstacle racing craze it seems that the five finger and inv8’s seem to get all the attention and both are good options for folks. But for all around bang for the buck and durability and protection, I’ll take the Minimus.

Weaknesses or room for improvement

Smell and sight and durability for some.

Well a glaring one pretty much seems to plague this segment of the shoe market and that is the smell though I guess I’ve been luckier than others. Some of my clients complain about this and leave the shoes outside their houses so as to not harm small children. I think its akin to the wicking garments category. Very effective and needed so you live with a little funk as a trade off.

Sometimes you get debris that works its way into the shoe and in a race like the Spartan Beast, you will probably have to move to the side of the trail and remedy this. Think that is pretty common as well in the category. I thought a gaitor type material would help this and NB beat me to the punch and developed this shoe to remedy the problem called the Minimus 110 that is almost like a minimalist boot. I will be testing this product out soon and can’t wait to see how it performs.

The look isn’t for everyone though it seems they have added color options for everyone now. My first pair were bright orange and I took a sharpie to them to tone them down a bit. My new pair are black with just a hint of yellow, kind of like a bumble bee so the sharpie stayed out this time.

The lacing system could be better and I’m going to try the New Balance lacing system in them which I just used in my MTB shoes.

Strengths

Lightweight, amazing traction, 4mm drop not too drastic, good protection, drains well.

I love the grip of these shoes in all terrain wet to dry and in between. I’ve conversely had some downright scary experiences with the traction of the Vibram Five Finger Spyridon’s and in the dry too. They seem to have a special ability to climb with from rock climbing/bouldering to indoor climbing to climbing trees, ropes and walls these things are really grippy.The Minimuses just stick to everything.

They are light and feel like nothing on your feet and you DON”T have to fight to get your toes into them. The 4mm drop isn’t drastic in either direction, seems to be the perfect blend between barefoot and full shod in a regular sneaker.
And like I mentioned above, they drain so well and don’t deform after a hard race like The Spartan Ultra Beast which I wore them in this year.

Conclusion

Lightweight, comfortable, drains well, great traction, good compromise between barefoot and shod. You might not win any fashion awards but for me personally there isn’t much chance of that anyway. You really can’t go wrong if this shoe fits you and you have done your time building up to them.
And that is where I will put a little disclaimer. Do your homework and put in the time before you just blindly leap in and go all out. You need to retrain and reprogram the musculature in your lower body so as to be prepared for wearing a minimalist shoe. There is so much great information out there, so take heed but once ready, do proceed!
Like I said initially it will come down to fit for many but if this shoe fits, you might want to wear it…I sure do.

See The New Balance Minimus in action in a video we made at.
https://themoceanproject.com/2012/11/12/new-mocean365-video-meg-and-skye-play-in-the-park/

pic by Megan Walsh,

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