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New Balance Minimus MT00 Review

An extremely minimal trail runner with options for the wide footed.

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by Chris Wallace | 2012-07-31 00:00:00-06

Overview

The New Balance Minimus MT00 is a zero drop trail runner that is extremely minimal by design. Unlike a lot of trail runners, the MT00 is available in a 4E and, after having found the standard Minimus varieties too narrow in the toe, I was excited to try out the wider version. Getting straight to what all lightweight backpackers are interested in, my size 10 4E shoes weigh in at 10.3 oz (292 g) for the pair. Yep, they're definitely light. In addition, these checked off several other good boxes on my most wanted list: they have zero drop (no heel-rise), are extremely breathable, and offer no support. I'd venture that the MT00 is one of the most minimal trail running shoes currently available.

New Balance Minimus MT00 Review - 1
The MT00 profile.

The MT00 consists of a largely mesh upper with strategically placed fabric overlays. The only padding found in the upper is around the upper ankle and in the heel cup. The shoe forgoes the more traditional removable padded insole and replaces it with a permanent piece of thin fabric. One good look over the MT00 and it's apparent they're designed to be worn sock-less (I still choose to wear socks for grit protection). The outsole shares the same pod-like design as the MT10/MT20 but only uses Vibram rubber in high-wear areas (blue areas). All other portions of the outsole use a blown foam (dark grey areas). My understanding is that New Balance determined the high-wear areas based on feedback from testers as well as from studying returned test shoes.

New Balance Minimus MT00 Review - 2
The MT00 mapped outsole.

While I don't consider myself to have a truly wide foot, I do have a fairly squared off profile with my toes so shoes with a wide toe-box tend to fit me best. The standard width Minimus shoes are too narrow for me, as mentioned above, but I find the 4E version to be just fine, if even a bit too wide in all but the toe. After having a lot of trouble finding a trail shoe that fit properly, I really wanted the MT00 to work. Unfortunately, a recent high mileage day hike across typical Southeastern terrain left me unsatisfied. I really like the fit of the shoe as well as the overall minimal design, but I feel that the outsole is best suited to smoother terrain. If you find yourself traveling mostly on hard-pack (or maybe soft-pack) dirt or duff, these shoes will likely be just fine. If you're generally on rocks and roots though, the MT00 probably isn't the best fit.

New Balance Minimus MT00 Review - 3
The MT00 upper. Looking closely you can see right through the mesh.

My first trip was less than 10 miles but included several water crossings as well as some off-trail travel. I had no issues with the MT00 and found them to drain far better than any shoes I've previously worn. Post-trip, I was still very enthused with this shoe. My next trip, however, left me with some residual damage. We covered approximately 22 miles of mixed trail and gravel road and, between the roots on the trails as well as the larger gravel, my feet were left in a bit of agony. Even though the trip was a few weeks back, I still have some tenderness in my arches that I mostly notice after walking a few miles (you can see in the outsole photo above that the arches use the blown foam in place of the harder Vibram rubber). As far as wear, I only see minimal indications, primarily limited to the foam areas of the outsole.

New Balance Minimus MT00 Review - 4
I'm a firm believer that you can judge the breathability of a shoe by how dirty your feet get. This is after 22 miles, and I even wore socks.

All said and done, even though I consider myself a minimalist when it comes to footwear and try to go barefoot as often as possible (even on asphalt), I found the MT00 to be a bit too bare for my typical trail conditions. If you find yourself mostly traveling on smooth terrain, be it on trail or off, these might be a great shoe for you. However, if you tend to spend more time on rocks, roots, or otherwise rough ground the MT00 will probably leave you wanting a bit more underfoot protection. As a side note, I could see these being a great shoe for packrafting or other sports where you spend more time on the water than on foot.

Specifications

Year/Model 2012 New Balance MT00 4E
Style Minimalist trail running shoe
Weight Manufacturer Specified: 4.4 oz (124 g) per shoe men's 9 D
BPL Measured: 10.3 oz (292 g) per pair men's 10 4E
Features Zero drop, mapped outsole built of Vibram rubber and blown foam,
mesh upper with fabric overlays and no-sew construction
Options D and 4E widths
MSRP US $109.99

Citation

"New Balance Minimus MT00 Review," by Chris Wallace. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/new_balance_minimus_mt00_review.html, 2012-07-31 00:00:00-06.

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New Balance Minimus MT00 Review
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
New Balance Minimus MT00 Review on 07/31/2012 21:43:10 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

New Balance Minimus MT00 Review

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
Don't quite get it on 08/01/2012 10:23:02 MDT Print View

Ok slight noob question here, but how on earth do you guys hike in those? I'm not being facetious here, I'm serious. I like and understand minimalism. I like the idea of the shoes too, I really do. I just can't understand how this shoe would work for a large portion of hiking in the northeastern USA. Is the ultra-minimalist hiking shoe a west coast and southwest kind of thing because of the weather out there? Because when I hike in the northeast, it isn't common for the trails to be dry, there are usually puddles. There are stream crossings often. The underbrush is wet from morning dew, as is the grass. The trails are not always wide. On any given 3-5 day trek, chances are good that it will rain, at least for a few hours, and having water proof shoes is a good way to keep your feet dry. Do you guys just not mind hiking with wet feet? It kills mine. I usually use very light boots with synthetic materials, like solomon, although I do own a fantastic pair of salewa boots that are heavier duty and that I also use in the winter. I am open to the idea of these, but the thought of hiking in to 13 falls and doing part of the pemi loop, or hiking some of the more remote adirondack regions it would seem that my feet would just be swimming in mud the whole time. How do you combat this, and how would I use these shoes properly? In addition, how do you deal with the pain and bruises of slamming your feet into big rocks sometimes when doing trails like devil's path and gothics/armstrong (adk) loops? Do you just teach yourself to never hit your feet or something?

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Don't quite get it on 08/01/2012 10:41:57 MDT Print View

Adam read these

http://andrewskurka.com/2012/minimizing-the-effects-and-aftermath-of-wet-feet/

http://andrewskurka.com/2012/why-waterproof-shoes-will-not-keep-your-feet-dry/

http://andrewskurka.com/

I highly recommend his book

James Klein
(jnklein21) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Don't quite get it on 08/01/2012 11:03:52 MDT Print View

I hiked a weeklong rainy trip in Maine in June 3yrs back -- I used waterproof boots -- took them off at every stinkin water crossing, dodged all of the deep water puddles...and my feet got wet and stayed wet.

I have hiked in New Balance 101s in the rain also. Feet get wet and stay wet in the right conditions with these too. After getting wet they dry much quicker though. I haven't rolled an ankle since switching. Blisters are better.

"Do you just teach yourself to never hit your feet or something?"
Something like that, generally a good idea to watch where you put your feet...but I know I have trouble doing this later in the day as I get tired. PPL will say you need to condition your feet to take not having a rock plate etc. I never bothered and my feet don't get ridicuously sore -- maybe I'm not hardcore enough.

When warm I just accept that if it rains my feet will get wet. If its not raining they would be wet in wp boots b/c of sweet. If cold enough I would look into neoprene socks to stay warm. There are excellent articles by Dave Chenault and others on dealing with cold and wet.

Adam Klagsbrun
(klags) - MLife

Locale: Northeast US
interesting on 08/01/2012 16:44:15 MDT Print View

yeah sounds interesting. I don't usually get wet feet from condensation unless its insanely hot outside, and the boots usually dry overnight. I don't generally like dodging puddles, and I use short waterproof gaiters attached tightly to my boots, meaning that unless my whole foot goes in for a long dunk, I never get water in my boots, and so far I've enjoyed hiking with dry feet more than 75/50% of the time. Do you think that's a fair comparison to the amount of time your feet are dry in these minimalist style shoes? can anyone point out a few other favorites that I should consider for 3 season use in the northeast if I were to take the plunge and give this type of footwear a try for backpacking? Are they ok for being on lots of open rock too? I'll read those linked articles now, thanks.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: minimalist shoes on 08/01/2012 19:48:14 MDT Print View

Adam, I'd echo what Skurka ways in the aforelinked articles concerning wet feet. I've never found it a big deal. I do have a few friends who consistently suffer blisters and sores when their skin is macerated. Not sure what explains this difference between people. Generally people who hike in wilder areas (fewer bridges, etc) and outside late summer (more water) will have a greater appreciation for techniques outside the predominant paradigm.

Minimal shoes ought to be viewed on a spectrum, and with several different aspects of minimalishness. Amount of cushion, stiffness, and delta (heel-toe drop) are the big ones. The 00s are pretty far to one side in all respects. The more minimal the shoe, the stronger and quicker on your feet you'll need to be. Adaptation usually takes time. Four years ago I hiked over Marcy from the Loj and came back via Avalanche Lake in a new pair of Lasportiva Fireblades, which felt quite minimal and tired my feet out more than would have been usual for that distance and terrain. Now such shoes are the stiffest and most padded I wear hiking, and I'd have no issues with added fatigue on that hike.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Don't quite get it on 08/01/2012 20:24:52 MDT Print View

Wearing these kind of shoes requires conditioning. For many people, they may not have the free time to maintain that conditioning. I consider the minimalist shoe a modern version of a moccasin.
The problem with most people switching to minimalist shoes is they end up walking completely wrong. You are not supposed to land on your heel, you are supposed to land on the front of your foot and then bring the heel down. Stiff shoes don't allow you to do this, but it's really the natural movement of the foot. Try forcing yourself to walk this way and it will help tremendously. I don't wear shoes unless they allow me to front point. That's my definition of a minimalist shoe.
However, some minimalist shoes are more like sneakers than moccasins. There are various levels. The most important thing to consider is the sole thickness and the thickness of the insole. The key to have a less painful minimalist shoe experience is having nice insoles. Insoles give you much more padding with less compromise of flexibility than a thicker outsole would.
Keep in mind I have never even worn the NB MT100, but I really like vivobarefoot shoes.

Personally, I tend to get blisters or nasty looking feet from hot, sweaty conditions. In cool rainy weather, my feet actually feel very nice when wet. Maybe the hot, sweaty part has a worse effect on my feet.

Matt Mahaney
(Matt_Mahaney) - MLife

Locale: In the District
Re: interesting on 08/01/2012 20:29:22 MDT Print View

I use Inov8 Terroc 330s. Not truly minimal, but less than you're used to. The 330s fit my foot well, great rubber, dry pretty fast. Wet feet don't bother me. Best shoes I've used. Love these on rock! I feel like a mountain goat in them.

edit: rock walking

Edited by Matt_Mahaney on 08/01/2012 20:31:53 MDT.

T N
(tordnado) - MLife

Locale: Europe
Re: Re: Don't quite get it on 08/02/2012 03:17:38 MDT Print View

"The problem with most people switching to minimalist shoes is they end up walking completely wrong. You are not supposed to land on your heel, you are supposed to land on the front of your foot and then bring the heel down."

I have been using zero drop shoes for 2 years now, hiking, running and at the office, all the time basically and I dont agree with you on the point that you should land forefoot first when walking (exeption really fast walking downhill), however when you are running the forefoot/midfoot goes down first (depending on speed).

I "studied" films of people walking barefoot since their childhood and also my kids walking on hard surfaces. They do put down their heel first but not with such a long stride and hard impact as they would with high heels (most normal shoes/boots=high heels). I also read in a study (sorry cant remember where) that westerns starting to run minimalistic was running way higher on the forefoot compared to native barefooters.

Another related topic: Why are so many people crazy about fast drying shoes? If you are out for a week and its raining most or half ot the time (Swedish mountains) it does not matter if the shoes dry out, they will be wet as soon as you take a step outside your tent! Please explain the focus on quick drying shoes. I have hiked quite a lot in vivo barefoot Ultra and I dont think anything beats them when it comes to quick drying, I just give them a shake and they are close to bone dry. It is indeed nice to get them on dry in the morning but is that it, the niceness??

Edited by tordnado on 08/02/2012 03:19:44 MDT.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: Don't quite get it on 08/02/2012 20:38:29 MDT Print View

Mr.T. I completely agree with your comments about walking heel first. I've made similar comments in the past.

Given that, many of these shoes are designed as running shoes. Meaning they are specifically designed for a mid/forefoot strike. So that sort of puts them at odds with a long hike where the typical user is not landing on the appropriate part of the shoe. I would consider the MT00 as a running shoe, but not as a distance hiking shoe.

I've found that the Inov-8 F-Lite 195s are a shoe that works for me both for running and for hiking. I also liked the New Balance MT101's in the past which had a rock plate that made long hikes over rocky terrain a little nicer, but found them to be lacking in the grip department. The sticky rubber from inov8 solved that problem beautifully. I also use MT10 shoes for running, but never considered them much of a hiking shoe. They feel so great on my feet though. Never tried the MT00 and doubt I will. Not sure they'd hold up or be comfortable on the typical terrain I like to run on. I'm happy enough with the MT10 for that role I guess (not that they're completely durable either).

Casey Greene
(caseygreene) - M

Locale: upper rattlesnake
110 on 08/03/2012 11:40:35 MDT Print View

Try the MT110's. They have the same last as the minimus series but the perfect amount of protection. Done some of the worst bushwacking in my life in them this past spring

They are also coming out with a winterized version that has an integrated gaiter this October.

Edited by caseygreene on 08/03/2012 11:41:22 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: 110 on 08/03/2012 12:08:11 MDT Print View

Unfortunately, the 110 doesn't come in a 4E width.

Casey Greene
(caseygreene) - M

Locale: upper rattlesnake
110 on 08/03/2012 15:41:58 MDT Print View

well, that sucks. hopefully they will soonish.

Ryan Dunne
(donryanocero)

Locale: Humboldt
New Balance Minimus MT00 Review on 08/05/2012 11:01:49 MDT Print View

Any insight as to why minimalist shoes cost more than ordinary trail runners? Niche market? I'd like to try a pair of something like this, but can't justify spending more for less shoe.

I suppose i usually only buy shoes when they're about $50 a pair, especially trail runners that will only last a season of hiking.

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: New Balance Minimus MT00 Review on 08/05/2012 11:19:32 MDT Print View

"Any insight as to why minimalist shoes cost more than ordinary trail runners?"

Likely a combination of higher development costs as well as being hot commodities at the moment. Just because the shoe weighs less doesn't mean it costs less to put together. Creating new lasts and models for a small market segment means the fixed costs have to be spread over a smaller number of sales too. Many of the "ordinary trail runners" use existing tooling and technologies that have been paid off over several generations of models by now.

Also, I haven't noticed that there is much of a cost difference. MT110 is one of the more affordable shoes out there.

Mike Magee
(skippykrog) - M
minimalist trail running/ hiking shoes on 08/08/2012 21:41:37 MDT Print View

Anybody try the merrell trail glove? I have been running and light hiking in them for several months now-- I have wide, flat feet and the fit of the whole shoe is awesome: tight in the heel box, wide in the toe box, with a good lacing system. About $80/pair. Love the minimalist thing-- in the winter I run indoor laps at the gym barefoot, or with a thin sock. Takes time to build up the different muscle groups in the ankle, calf and foot-- a lot of walking/ running before getting serious really helped. Hate my old Scarpa SLs now. Never thought I would say that!!!
Merrell Trail Glove for minimalist wide feet.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
What happened to the New Balance 4.4 oz shoes? on 06/26/2013 15:13:51 MDT Print View

What happened to the New Balance 4.4 oz shoes? Their web site now shows the lightest shoe to be 6.x ounces in the Minimus line.

http://www.newbalance.com/men/shoes/running/101000,default,sc.html#?prefn1=itemType&prefv1=Minimal

Nathan Watts
(7sport) - MLife
Re: What happened to the New Balance 4.4 oz shoes? on 06/26/2013 16:02:22 MDT Print View

I still see them

http://www.newbalance.com/Minimus-Zero-Trail/MT00,default,pd.html?dwvar_MT00_color=Black_with_Tendershoots&start=12&cgid=101000&prefn1=itemType&prefv1=Minimal


Minimus

Edited by 7sport on 06/26/2013 16:04:11 MDT.