New Balance MT810 Review

**(Updated 10/25: Addendum after Heavy Use)** A review of the latest in the New Balance 8xx series of light low-cut joggers and comparison to the previously-reviewed MT875 and MT876 shoes.

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by Roger Caffin | 2012-06-12 00:00:00-06

Technical Details

New Balance MT810 Review - 1

We have reviewed several previous shoes in this general series, such as the MT875OR and the MT876. Yes, New Balance keeps coming out with new models every year or so, which can be a real pain, but I have to say there have been improvements along the way.

Interestingly, the amount of market spin published with each generation of these sorts of shoes actually seems to be decreasing. Of these, New Balance says: "This all-terrain running shoe has a long history of proven performance, featuring N-ERGY® in the heel for advanced cushioning. With its rugged AT Tread® outsole and superior fit, the 810 trail runner is perfect for rough trails and unpredictable surfaces." Which is rather less than previous gushes. It also seems to be more to the point and accurate. There's a little spin about the soles and fabric using New balance names, which will probably mean very little to the average reader.

Once again, my wife Sue and I tested a pair each. My wife had the grey/orange ones in a size 10 4E while I tried some black/yellow ones in size 10.5 4E. Both are shown above. New Balance quote a weight of 387 g (13.65 oz) for one shoe, but for a smaller size. Sue's shoes weighed 403 g (14.22 oz) and 407 g (14.36 oz), while mine weighed 404 g (14.25 oz) and 415 g (14.64 oz). Clearly, there are slight variations in weight, although some of the larger variation in mine may be due to a little residual mud.

I mentions in my review of the MT876 shoes that the sole had improved (in my opinion) over previous generations, getting just that little bit stiffer. These shoes seem to have about the same stiffness in the sole as the MT876s, which is just about the right amount for us. The stiffness is enough to allow some edging on loose terrain and small scree.

Everyone kicks their toes into things. Earlier shoes had rather a buffer of heavy PU at the front - a bit too much in fact as that made the front of the shoe 'toe-heavy'. This has been improving through the two previous models, and the toe on these MT810s is quite light. The buffering is still very adequate, however, I can kick things and suffer no pain. There is a bit of sewing visible at the toe which might suffer some wear, but it's a bit to the side and, I suspect, not structural.

New Balance MT810 Review - 2

New Balance MT810 Review - 7

The sole is colour-coordinated with the upper, which is very cute, but the hardness of the two coloured regions seems the same. There's plenty of room between the lugs for grip and to let mud fall off. There's a colour-coordinated shock-absorbing layer at the heel - it is visible in the first photo. It is firm enough to not inhibit your feel for the ground.

The tongue is very conventional, being fastened only at the root. (The tongue on the MT876s was a bit unconventional: that has not been kept.) It is padded, but not too much. It is wide enough, and there is a now-conventional loop in the middle for the laces. Threading the laces through this loop is always advised: it stops the tongue from working sideways.

The mesh fabric on the outside seems reasonably strong, and there is some padding inside it. The padding around the ankle is broad and soft, and very comfortable. The interior of the shoe is smooth.

New Balance MT810 Review - 3

The heel is robust. This is good. The exterior features a curious arrangement of fine lacing, as shown here. I have it on good authority (ie from New Balance) that this lacing is nothing more than trim! You could cut it off i guess, but you would be saving only a couple of grams.

The laces are plain, not knobby like on previous models. Well, they work, although I have to say I was becoming fond of the knobby laces as they did stop the knot from getting loose. But, these work. I do have one small criticism of the laces on the black and yellow shoes I was testing (see first photo): from the corner of my eye the laces looked like leaches. As the first few trips with these shoes were through some very leach-infested areas, that did cause some - well, worries, at times. Tough!

Field Testing

Field testing starts when we (that's my wife and me) open the shoe boxes. Yeah, they looked okay. They felt okay when we tried them on as well.

You may have noticed that this time I went for a size 10.5 rather than my normal size 10. I wanted to see whether my feet were still growing. Well, that's hard to say, but my impression from trying on both sizes (10 and 10.5) was that I would probably have been okay with the size 10s. I think that these shoes run just a whisker larger than the previous ones, but only a whisker.

The laces have three holes at the ankle level again, visible in the first photo. I used all three holes as my shoes were a shade large, and I wanted to make sure I didn't bang my toes going downhill. Sue used only the first hole and found that quite enough.

New Balance MT810 Review - 4

What comes out of these two things is that one does not need to get shoes of exactly the right size, as long as they err on the large size. And how you lace your shoes is not super-critical either.

So off we went on a few walks to try the shoes out. They were very comfortable - to the point that we really were not paying much attention to them at any time. This trip combined some on-track (albeit an unmaintained track) with some pretty serious off-track stuff - scrambling through cliff lines.

New Balance MT810 Review - 5
At one stage we were traversing a fairly steep slab of sandstone. I can't say the angle worried these shoes - although I had to be careful when there were lots of small sticks and round leaves underfoot. They can roll.

New Balance MT810 Review - 6

Always of some concern is how shoes do in mud. It's not that we care about getting our feet wet - that happens whenever we have to walk through creeks after all. It's getting our socks all muddy that is annoying, because the mud can gum up the socks. Well, the shoes do have some freeboard (it helps to either tread very lightly or run), and the fabric does keep a lot of the mud out. If you want anything better - try gumboots. The mud washes off reasonably easily afterwards.

Specifications

Manufacturer New Balance Inc
Web Site www.newbalance.com or www.shopnewbalance.com for purchase
Model MT810 (RB, BY or GO, depending on colours)
Last PL-1
Sizes available US 7 - 15 with half sizes to 11.5, widths D and 4E
Size supplied US10 4E, US10.5 4E
Weight (quoted) 387 g (13.65 oz) for unspecified size and width
Weight (measured) around 407 g (14.36 oz) for US10, 10.5 4E
Manufactured in America, from imported materials
MSRP US$80
What's Good
  • Light weight
  • Excellent sole
  • Soft fabric sides
  • Little dust or debris penetration
  • Comfortable with loose laces
What's Not So Good
  • Nothing comes to mind

Addendum to NB810 Review - after heavy use

Use

In July-September of 2012 I spent 8 weeks walking the Via Alpina Purple route, through Slovenia, Austria and Germany. Most of this country features limestone rock, and walking over that all day is a really harsh test of any shoe.

New Balance MT810 Review - 8
Left: scree slopes in Slovenia, Middle: climbing up to Roblekov Dom (hut), Right: traversing Toten Mann (Dead Man) near Warscheneck

I wore some Darn Tough Vermont Boot socks inside the shoes, and had short Lycra gaiters (like Dirty Girl ones) around my ankles to keep mud and rocks out.

Assessment

Overall, the shoes did very well, gripped well (mostly), felt very comfortable, and lasted the full trip with just a little damage right near the end.

New Balance MT810 Review - 9
The soles after the trip

The soles wore a little bit, but as you can see here, there was a lot of tread left at the end. That's pretty good rubber. The grip was generally good right to the end, with one exception. On the second last day of the eight weeks, under Knuppenkopf on the Jubileumsweg, we were traversing some very wet and very muddy sloping sheet rock where the surface had been polished very smooth by feet, and the worn tread did not grip as well as, say, new Vibram soles. I got across, but it was a little unpleasant. (There was a bit of steep exposure right there!) Sue had some trouble crossing this rock as well, wearing a different brand of light jogger. Both Sue and I thought the track maintenance was seriously lacking on this whole stretch.

New Balance MT810 Review - 10
Left: the toe peeling off slightly, Right: a chip out of the side near the toe

The bit of rubber that curls up at the front always starts to peel off any light jogger in my experience. The bonding just never holds. However, having got this far by the middle of the trip, it did not seem to peel off any more, and I was watching it carefully. A chip of rubber did get chopped off the edge of the sole somehow (red arrow). I put this down to walking over seriously sharp limestone: some of the water-eroded edges felt sharp enough to cut skin.

New Balance MT810 Review - 11
R & L shoes, tears along the bottom of the sidewall on the outside of the foot

The photo here shows the only real damage the shoes suffered. Where the fabric joins the moulding, at the edge of the sole, it tore. It did this on both feet at the outside. I believe this was due to the fabric coming into contact with the limestone rock just there, and being stressed too much. In effect, it tore where the fabric went into the moulding.

I had better explain that the very messy appearance of the mesh fabric around the tears is due to a coating of polyurethane I put onto the fabric to limit the damage. The mesh should look black, as seen elsewhere on the shoes. I have had this problem before with other light joggers, such as the NB875s I reviewed some time ago. The similar damage to those shoes was done by 6 weeks of walking in Switzerland in 2009 over rather similar terrain. Well, at least things are consistent.

Three things are worth noting about this. The first is that the region in front of the damaged area (reinforced with perforated psuedo-leather) did not get damaged, and I am fairly sure that was due to the protection from the reinforcing. The second thing is that the NB875 shoes were even less reinforced and suffered more damage than these (over similar terrain). The third thing is that my wife's shoes (a different brand) did have such reinforcing right along the edge, and they did not suffer this damage.

I think New Balance should take note of this and consider extending the reinforcing right along the edge. The bits at the front are working well: just keep going down the side a bit more. The upside of doing this would be extended life. The downside would a very slight increase in weight and a slight increase in bending stiffness. Both would be acceptable to me.


Citation

"New Balance MT810 Review," by Roger Caffin. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/new_balance_mt810_review.html, 2012-06-12 00:00:00-06.

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New Balance MT810 Review
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Maia
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
New Balance MT810 Review on 06/12/2012 17:32:17 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

New Balance MT810 Review

John Coyle
(Bigsac)

Locale: NorCal
New Balance MT810 Review on 06/13/2012 12:05:47 MDT Print View

Roger, do these shoes seem true to width? I have a D width as measured by the metal device in the shoe stores, but sometimes a companies regular, or D width, pinch my little toes. I'm wondering if I should get the wider size even though I have a D width foot.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: New Balance MT810 Review on 06/13/2012 17:28:56 MDT Print View

Hi John

Yeah, there can be a problem there, but the causes are MANY.

For a start, the taper beyond the widest part can affect the tip of your toe. Look at those pointy street shoes for example (especially lady's shoes!).

Second, when they measure your foot with a Brannock device, they often do so on a bare foot or with only a thin sock. Fine, but you may be wearing a thick wool sock in the field, which has not been allowed for.

Third, some brands of shoes seem to differ from the Brannock device anyhow. They use a seriously different last, or they just don't conform. Or the factory gets the mould slightly wrong so the shoes are all undersize.

Fourth, and this is the killer: your feet will grow at least one length/width in the field over what is measured in the store. This alone can cripple you. If you are a 10D in the shop with thick walking socks, buy a 10.5 E fitting. Yep: up in both length and width. As I mentioned in the article, shoes which are slightly too big are not much of a problem compared to shoes which are too small.

Fortunately, if you experiment by buying end-of-run joggers from the web sites which specialise in them (heavily discounted), you can usually afford to experiment a bit in shoe sizes. It is worth doing so.

Cheers
PS: yes, mostly true to size.

Edited by rcaffin on 06/13/2012 17:29:27 MDT.

John Coyle
(Bigsac)

Locale: NorCal
New Balance MT810 Review on 06/14/2012 10:11:55 MDT Print View

Hey Rodger,

Right you are. It's like a crap shoot to get good fit in a shoe any more.

I bought a pair of Montrail Rockridges a while back, and they were problematic. They fit well at first, but then after a few weeks when they were too scuffed up to return, they started pinching my little toes. It was a shame, because I liked them in most ways, but I can't abide a pinched toe on a hike Unfortunately they did not offer them in wide.

On the other hand, I have had good luck with with the regular versions of the Merrell Moab Ventilator, the Brooks Cascadia series, and the Montrail AT Plus. They all seem to be a true D width.

I suppose the secret is that once you find a shoe that works for you, just clean out the store, although there could be variations even in the same model and size of shoe.

Anyway, good luck with all your endeavors (endevours?) in Australia and abroad.

BTW, why do you guys down there call Australia Oz. Is it like the city at the end of the yellow brick road in the movie?

Slainte- that's Irish for cheers, I have some Irish relatives

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: New Balance MT810 Review on 06/18/2012 02:23:04 MDT Print View

Hi John

Yeah, one man's fit is another man's pain. I know.

> why do you guys down there call Australia Oz
Australian accent: Oztralia...

Cheers

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Addendum added from Via Alpina on 10/25/2012 15:07:19 MDT Print View

Hi all

After completing the Via Alpina Purple route July-September 2012 with these shoes, I have added an Addendum highlighting how well they went. See the end of the article.

Cheers