New Balance reintroduced a slightly reinvented model of the Minimus which now features a 4mm heel-to-toe drop for users who are not quite ready to ditch the elevated, cushioned heels they've become accustomed to in running shoes. Despite this minor concession, the New Balance Minimus Trail 10v1 retains many of the features we love in a minimal running shoe: a wide toe box, thin sole that allows us to feel the ground, supple uppers that let our toes spread and flex, and a soft interior that ensures sockless comfort. The major problem with this shoe was the tight midfoot and lacing system that often cut off circulation as well as the looser fit in the heel. Overall, it's a good shoe, but be sure that tight midfoot is not a problem for you.
New Balance Minimus Trail 10v1 - Women's Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Great trail traction, supple forefoot, wide toe box, soft interior, good weather protection, breathable
Cons: Tight in the midfoot, heel less secure, heel-toe drop of 4 mm may be more than some barefoot users desire
Manufacturer: New Balance
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Minimus 10v1 is back in circulation after some time with the designers at New Balance. The latest iteration of this shoe is not a strictly "barefoot" in style but retains several of the key attributes of a minimal shoe.
The Minimus features a wide toe box that allows your toes to splay comfortably, and very supple upper materials so you can raise your toes with ease as you prepare to land on your forefoot. The sole is also soft in the forefoot which allows you to feel some of the bumps in the road and keep your feet stimulated during your runs, walks, and workouts.
The only problem with the fit is that the shoe cinches very tightly around the midfoot, and even when we got the appropriately large size, our feet often went numb after wearing these shoes for a while. At first, this design felt like it lent some arch support to an otherwise flat-ish shoe, but it ultimately felt very restrictive.
The heel is stiffer than the forefoot which made this shoe feel particularly good for walking when you land on your heels. And the minimal 4mm drop was minimally noticeable when we ran with a forefoot landing, as promoted by barefoot running techniques.
The toe box has a built-in upward curve which we don't like because it takes extra effort to flatten our feet when landing or even resting. After months of training foot strength, these shoes felt like they were trying to put our feet in a slightly unnatural position.
These shoes can be worn with or without socks, and when worn without, the interior feels as soft as a chamois cloth for your sports car. We certainly agree with New Balance here—our feet definitely deserve to be treated like a high-end hot rod!
New Balance gives the Minimus a 4mm heel-to-toe drop and some extra cushioning to make it more approachable for those interested in getting into barefoot or minimal footwear but who aren't quite ready to make the leap to zero-drop just yet.
We really like barefoot-inspired shoes that hug our feet like a sock, so we were initially drawn to the look of the Minimus. However, the midfoot was so tight that our feet quickly felt sore, very uncomfortable, and even went numb after some time wearing them.
The Minimus features a nice, supple footbed, though the heel is stiffer than the forefoot which means these shoes do not leave your feet to their own devices as well as the models we tested with the soft and supple sole from heel to toe. The interior is also soft, making these very comfortable with or without socks.
These shoes also have a 4mm elevated heel which is not a perfect match for the strictest definition of "barefoot" footwear. This is a minimal shoe that serves as a way to transition to lighter, softer footwear, and may help slowly develop lower leg strength and restore some running efficiency by giving you improved feedback from the ground. However, we found the shoes to be restrictive, uncomfortable, and less fun than some of the more genuinely minimal footwear in this review.
These shoes are lightweight, only 14.5 ounces for a pair of size 10 women's (41.5 European sizing). These are well balanced as well, meaning they carry evenly on your feet and allow a quick running stride.
The Minimus has some of the most impressive traction in this review. The circular lugs are highly sticky, made of Vibram rubber. They are also well spaced to allow loose dirt to pass through and find more solid terrain underneath.
The traction was so good with these shoes that sometimes we thought those little circular lugs were miniature suction cups on our pads. The supple forefoot improved traction as well by molding to the rocks, curbs, bumps, and trails we ran and hiked on.
The Minimus 10v1 is very breathable with foam structure in the upper, making them comfortable in a variety of conditions. They are well suited to warmer weather as you can wear them without socks, but then you can put on a lightweight pair of toe socks and enjoy a little more warmth for running in the cooler seasons.
These are not a waterproof shoe, but they have a liner which holds up very well to splashes of water and quick hops over streams or shallow puddles.
The Minimus showed some wear during our testing. First, we noticed the heel loosened up over time—the integrated heel strap does not seem to maintain a consistent fit as well as the Xero Shoes Prio design with its huarache-sandal-inspired integrated strap design.
The toe does not have much of a rand to protect the shoe from abrasion. Instead, it has a slightly thicker fabric at the toes. This will not last as well as some of the much burlier toe caps in the review. The Vibram soles are highly durable and will last up to many miles on the most rugged of terrain, on and off trail.
The Minimus is best suited to those curious about minimizing their footwear but who are not yet ready to leap. The sole is supple, and the toe box is wide which greatly improves the feel of a shoe if you're looking for more foot freedom; however, the midfoot feels tight, almost as if trying to provide arch support, and the elevated heel does not ensure a true barefoot-like fit. After spending months training foot strength, this shoe actually hurt at the end of a long run or hike because it prevented our arches from working as a shock absorber, as we had been training it to do, and instead cut off circulation.
These shoes will still help build lower leg strength, however, by allowing more freedom for your toes to bend and flex, so if you're looking for some modest gains in foot strength and mobility, this might be a decent shoe to try for a while.
The Minimus isn't the best deal in this review, but it's not far off, either. If you're looking for a slightly more supportive trail running or ultralight hiking shoe, and you're curious about minimizing your footwear, this could be a good way to start the transition.
The New Balance Minimus 10v1 is certainly a minimized shoe, but it does not hit all of the key components of a barefoot-inspired or truly minimalist shoe. It features a 4mm heel-to-toe drop instead of the pure zero drop style lauded by the more pure minimal or "barefoot" shoe manufacturers. However, it still has a relatively wide toe box a flexible forefoot, as well as supple upper fabrics that allow your toes to bend and flex with relative ease. This might be a decent shoe for those unsure about committing to the stricter "barefoot" shoes.
— Lyra Pierotti