Rating: 4 / 5
Weight - 12.7 oz
Size - 9 EE
Color - screaming, bright, obnoxious yellow
So after years of wearing ill-fitting shoes, I decided to go in and see what size my feet really were. I typically wear 10.5 to 11 shoes. According to the fitter, I'm a 9 EE or EEE.
I originally went with a 9 EE of the previous model, the NB 871. It was a nice shoe, a bit less breathable due to less mesh. I found it comfortable, except for a hard arched midsole that provided too much arch support, even for me with my high, "uncollapsible" arch. The reason I returned the 871s was that they began to come apart at the front seam the first time I wore them. I took them back, the shop guy explained that this was common, but so sorry - the replacement 872 won't be released for another few months! So I got to beat up the 871s from January until April, knowing that I'd be able to swap them out for a brand new upgraded pair in April :D. Fun.
The 872s are a far superior shoe. They are shaped less like a running shoe in that the sole rubber doesn't wrap up around the toe. Instead, there is a sturdy plastic bumper that encloses the front - not the top 0 of the toe box. It keeps the toe box roomy and gives it some structure. Very good sole, great heel support. Minimal arch support, which is great for me. Not a cushy shoe - there's no danger of bruising, but you can certainly feel the trail more than with some shoes, more even than with the relatively minimalistic 871s. My only gripe is that the lacing system is certainly not a "one-tug" affair. This might be remedied by replacing the lumpy stock laces - which don't slip - with some standard diameter laces - which might. Minimal gripes - if you can get over the heinous yellow color, it's a really nice, very cool, supportive shoe that's right in line with the hiking style that a lot of BPL-ers employ.
UPDATE AS OF 9/5/06
I have many more miles on these shoes, and am still very happy with them. I use these shoes for trail running, hiking, backpacking, and also wear them for several hours per week of very intense Ultimate Frisbee.
I recently put in a 75-mile, 5-day hike in Idaho's Sawtooth range. I was the only member of my hiking party who did not have foot trouble. I wore these with a midweight wool sock, no liner. Much of the terrain was very rocky, and our route involved several traverses of loose, steep scree slopes. The shoes were stable, comfortable, dried VERY quickly, and held up well. As is noted in the recent Spotlight Review, the bright color makes for an ugly shoe when dirty, but they cleaned up and look almost like new again, despite having several hundred miles on them by now.
Unlike Will (the reviewer), I was very impressed with the durability of the mesh. I expected it to shred, but several times on this recent trip I kicked into sharp rocks or roots. The mesh not only didn't tear at all, but protected my foot. Pretty impressive, IMHO. The protected toe box is great, as well. I do find that the shoe is significantly less comfortable when playing field sports - not sure why, it just creates hot spots on the sides of my feet. I may need a wider shoe, in which case it's the fit and not the model.
This shoe certainly still rates a solid 4 out of 5.