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New Balance Minimus 10v1 Trail Review

The Minimus 10v1 Trail
Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $115 List | $114.95 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Comfortable on trail or road, flexible, very grippy
Cons:  Outsole is not very protective
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   New Balance

Our Verdict

When we decided to begin our search for the best minimalist running shoe, we didn't have to run far before discovering our fascination with the New Balance Minimus. The immediate out-of-box comfort of this shoe is unlike any of the other shoes in the group, and that's just one of the many reasons it earns our Editors' Choice Award. The 10v1 Trail provides the exact amount of sensitivity to the ground we look for in a minimalist shoe, as well as sufficient traction for anything from roads to moderately technical trails. This is the lightest shoe we tested, at 6.3 ounces, while also having "roll in a ball" flexibility. If you find yourself intrigued, check out the rest of our elaborate review of the Editors' Choice winner.

Product Update - June 2017
New Balance is reverting back to the original Minimus 10v1, pictured above, in 2017. After three attempts to improve the design with the 10v2, 10v3, and 10v4 versions, the manufacturer decided the original just can't be beat. Or, almost. TPU was added to the sole of the original design to increase its durability. The Minimus 10v3 is no longer in production.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Minimalist and Barefoot Shoes Review


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jimmy Elam
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Tuesday
August 19, 2014

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The New Balance Minimus Minimus 10v2 Trail vs. The Revised Minimus 10v1 Trail


New Balance returned to the original model, the Minimus 10v1. The evolution has been the 10v1, then 10v2, then 10v3, then 10v4, and now the 10v1 again. This latest release of the 10v1 does come with one modification to the original. A layer of TPU was applied to the sole in an attempt to increase this shoe's longevity. The list price is $115, which is $5 more than the 10v2.

Check out the side-by-side comparison below, with the Minimus 10v1 shown on the left and the Minimus 10v2 pictured on the right.
The Minimus 10v1 Trail
New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail
 

Our top runners are testing out the new Minimus model. Until we complete a full analysis, the text below refers to the Minimus 10v2.

Hands-On Review of the Minimus 10v2


The New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail is a wonderful product! This shoe is truly everything you need in an award-winning minimalist running shoe, and we give it our Editors' Choice Award with assurance. New Balance has found the perfect harmony of minimalism, comfort, flexibility, and traction in the Minimus Trail, and it's our favorite minimalist shoe for any run on any day.

Performance Comparison


Flying down the trails in our Editors' Choice Winner  the New Balance Minimus.
Flying down the trails in our Editors' Choice Winner, the New Balance Minimus.

Ground Feeling


In comparison to the rest of the minimalist running shoes in the group, the 10v2 Trail provides a lot of ground feeling. We rate them just below the level of sensitivity of the Merrell Trail Glove 2 and the Vibram FiveFingers Treksport, which both have 2 mm less cushioning in the midsole. With just a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, 6 mm of cushion, and a low-profile design, we definitely feel and love that close-to-earth sensation provided by the Minimus Trail. The sensitive ride might be a little too much for those trail runners just transitioning into minimalism, and will require time to adjust. Overall, we find the ride to be not too sensitive, not too cushy, but a nice balance for the majority of runners looking for a minimalist shoe that provides plenty of sensitivity. If you are very new to minimalist running footwear, we recommend beginning with a shoe that has less ground feeling, such as our Top Pick, the Inov8 Trailroc 245 which has the same amount of cushioning but has a protective midsole rock plate.

"Roll-in-a-ball" flexibility helps give the New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail its wonderful minimalist ride. Flexibility is one of the distinguishing characteristics of barefoot and minimal footwear.
"Roll-in-a-ball" flexibility helps give the New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail its wonderful minimalist ride. Flexibility is one of the distinguishing characteristics of barefoot and minimal footwear.

Traction


The Minimus features a Vibram outsole with multi-directional traction. The large Vibram hexagonal treads on the outsole make for an extremely grippy ride and the independent treads flex with your foot-strike, depending on how you land, allowing for the most ground contact possible. These multi-directional treads give you the best possible traction. The wide forefoot also helps with overall traction. The rubber tread make for a grippy and protective landing on sharp rocks, though if you land on a sharp rock in the space between the lugs it might cause you some pain. However, we don't feel the Minimus are the most grippy of the group when comparing them to the trail dominating Inov8 Trailroc 245. We do notice the Vibram outsole wears more quickly than the soles of some of the other minimalist shoes in our group, particularly the soles of the Inov8 Trailroc, which seem to be unaffected after logging over fifty miles in them.

The Minimus Trail provides wonderful traction on virtually any terrain with its grippy Vibram lugs.
The Minimus Trail provides wonderful traction on virtually any terrain with its grippy Vibram lugs.

Comfort


The out-of-box comfort is remarkable. The Minimus has no break-in period, and we love the ride from the very first run to the last. With the rubber Vibram lugs on the outsole, this shoe is designed more for trail running than road running. We do find that logging occasional runs with low mileage on the road still feels fantastic and won't wear down the rubber nubs too much. We logged up to fifteen trail miles at once in the 10v2 Trail. We weren't disappointed, and our feet felt great all the way through the last mile. Now, if the majority of your miles will be logged on the roads, we suggest the New Balance Minimus road.

The 10v2 Trail are true to size, though the toe box is wider than all the other shoes in the group besides the Merrell Trail Glove 2. We don't feel this poses any significant problems and is actually quite comfortable to have this little bit of extra room for our toes to move around. It's really the perfect amount. Too much extra space can cause chafing and blisters. The only time this spacious forefoot bothers us is when running on very slanted terrain. We notice our feet to slide to one side, losing stability on challenging and rocky terrain. We feel the extra wide toe box in the forefoot plays a small part in decreased comfort, whereas the small lace structure is where the real problem lies. The laces end where the leather metatarsal strap begins. If the laces reached further down the foot, this show would likely not have this issue.

The metatarsal strap on the forefoot provides a little extra protection to prevent the foot from sliding.
The metatarsal strap on the forefoot provides a little extra protection to prevent the foot from sliding.

New Balance could improve the lacing design in the 10v2. We notice that it takes a while to get that perfect tension in the lacing. In at least our first week or so of testing, the laces felt either too tight or too loose after a couple miles. When we first put the shoe on and lace it up, it feels like the perfect tension. Once we are a couple miles into the run, the shoe feels too loose. We actually had to stop and re-tie the shoe because it felt so loose. One factor might be how far back from the forefoot the laces end. The lace eyelet section ends pretty short compared to all the other shoes in the test group, and we believe this affects the snugness. Also, not as significant of a problem, but the laces are unnecessarily long. We find that tucking them in will help prevent them from flopping around.

Weight


The ACTEVA midsole featured on this shoe is 12% lighter than standard midsoles, which helps it to weigh in as the lightest minimal shoe in our test group at 6.3 ounces. Even with this lighter midsole, we still feel the 10v2 Trail is plenty comfortable. Actually, we feel they might even be too cushy for those who are die-hard minimalist or barefoot running shoe users. Many minimalist running shoes, such as the Merrell Trail Glove 2 and the barefoot Vibram Fivefingers Treksport omit a midsole altogether. This obviously makes the shoe lighter and more minimal, though also sacrifices comfort. If you're interested in a minimalist running shoe that provides a more substantial midsole, check out our Top Pick Award winner the Inov8 Trailroc 245.

Warmth


What this shoe lacks in warmth, it makes up for on most other levels. It has just a slightly warmer upper when compared to the Merrell Trail Glove 2. The very light and thin upper of the Minimus accounts for this, but that's what helps this shoe come through as the lightest one we tested. On a good note, the upper does dry extremely fast.

Foot Protection


The 10v2 Trail falls short compared to the other minimalist shoes when it comes to foot protection. The only significant deficiency we believe it has is not providing adequate protection on the outsole. The rubber lugs on the outsole are great and sufficiently protective, though between them is super soft foam that provides barely any protection from sharp rocks. We wouldn't have such a concern over this if it wasn't a trail shoe. Being marketed as a trail specific shoe, we feel it could use a little bit more protection. On numerous trail runs in this shoe we had some close calls with fortunately just slight bruising. We wish the outsole, besides the Vibram lugs, was just a little more substantial. We don't feel the outsole is designed well enough for the most technical and rugged terrain, like what the more protective Inov8 Trailroc 245 can handle. Though, the Minimus does provide okay protection and handle amazingly on pretty much everything from the road to moderate trails.

Pushing on the soft foam exposed on the outsole  showing the shoe's flexibility. We feel this shoe could use a bit more protection.
Pushing on the soft foam exposed on the outsole, showing the shoe's flexibility. We feel this shoe could use a bit more protection.

We like how the metatarsal strap on the forefoot provides a little extra foot support when on steeper terrain. There are many complaints about this forefoot strap on the previous version being too close to where the foot bends, causing irritation. New Balance made some adjustments on the 10v2 Trail and moved the strap back a touch, and this has seemed to fix the issue. The metatarsal strap also helps secure the forefoot on uneven terrain since the lace design is much shorter than on all the other shoes we tested.

Best Application


This wonderful shoe is perfect for the minimalist trail runner who stays on easy or moderate terrain and takes occasional runs on the road. At only 6.3 ounces, the Minimus 10v2 are also light enough to hop in a local trail race without feeling weighed down.

Value


We would be happy paying over the $110 price tag knowing now how wonderful this minimalist running shoe is.

Conclusion


The New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail is ridiculously comfortable and provides plentiful traction for pretty much any activity. We gladly give it our Editors' Choice award and plan to wear our pair until there are holes in the bottom.

Other Versions


New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail - Women's
Minimus 10v2 Trail Women's
  • Women's version of the 10v2 trail
  • $110
Jimmy Elam

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Most recent review: August 19, 2014
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