New Balance has dominated a lot of the conversation over the last seven years or so with their Minimus line of barefoot-style trainers. They have ranged from minimalist, zero drops, sub-eight ounces shoes to heftier, more trail-centric trainers that have incorporated insole support or a 4mm drop. This iteration of the Minimus 10v1 Trail has the same stylish look users have come to expect with sleek, thin design that shies away from the odd, glaring neon designs of other trainers. It's a comfortable, but snug shoe that handles the road and trail with equal ease and provides precisely the kind of fit and design as previous iterations. The Minimus 10v1 performs great on trails, looks stylish enough to wear around town and complements a workout with a light platform that handles whatever you need from it.
New Balance Minimus 10v1 Trail Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Multi-purpose for trail or road, flexible, lightweight, breathable
Cons: Fit very snug, not for people with a high bridge, costly
Manufacturer: New Balance
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New Balance Minimus 10v1 Trail
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|$94.99 at Amazon||$105.43 at Amazon||$119.95 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Multi-purpose for trail or road, flexible, lightweight, breathable||Super lightweight, exceptional ground-feel, freedom of movement||Versatile, durable, tough, unique||Durable, rugged, tough on the road, stylish||Tough exterior, stable, snug lacing system|
|Cons||Fit very snug, not for people with a high bridge, costly||Inconsistent grip, short stock laces, potentially short lifetime||Weighty, aggressively barefoot in design||Expensive, low traction, fit larger than most||Odd flex pattern, decreased sensitivity, lack of dexterity in toes|
|Bottom Line||This durable, multi-purpose trainer from New Balance offers a repeat of the same design users have come to love over the years.||Impressive barefoot accuracy from a road trainer that performs equally well on trails.||This versatile, rugged shoe is a bit bulky and clunky looking but performs as well or better than more established minimalist designs out there.||If you can afford the sticker shock, these are a great road shoe that you can wear around town without looking foolish.||Our Top Pick for trails, run in comfort and confidence in this tank of a FiveFingers shoe.|
|Rating Categories||Minimus 10v1 Trail||Merrell Vapor Glove 4||Xero Shoes Prio||Vivobarefoot Stealth 2||Vibram V-Trail 2.0|
|Running Performance (30%)|
|Barefoot Accuracy (25%)|
|Specs||Minimus 10v1 Trail||Merrell Vapor...||Xero Shoes Prio||Vivobarefoot...||Vibram V-Trail 2.0|
|Weight (per shoe, size EU 42)||8.0 oz||5.4 oz||9.3 oz (9.7 oz w/ optional insole)||8.4 oz||6.9 oz|
|Stack Height (mm)||15 mm/11 mm||6.5 mm||5.5 mm||3.0 mm||3.7 mm|
|Cushion (mm)||0||0||Optional 2 mm Insole||0||2 mm EVA Insole|
|Heel to Toe drop (mm)||4mm||0||0||0||0|
|Upper||Synthetic mesh||Cordura mesh and TPU||Mesh with synthetic leather overlays||EVA cage with mesh||3D Cocoon Mesh|
|Outsole||Integrated, Vibram rubber w/ Flex Grooves||3.5mm, Vibram TC5+||5.5mm, FeelTrue Rubber||3mm, V Road Rubber w/ PRO5||3.7mm, Megagrip Rubber|
|Width Options||Wide Version Available||None||None||None||None|
|Style||Minimalist trail||Barefoot road||Barefoot road||Barefoot road||Barefoot trail|
Our Analysis and Test Results
We have come to expect a certain quality from New Balance, and this iteration of the Minimus line delivers once again on a trainer that fans seek out season after season. The lightweight, 8-ounce trail shoe has a slight 4 mm drop and a breathable upper, and a tough Vibram outsole protects you from the gnarliest roots and rocks so you can focus on killing the trail.
Whether you are looking for a trail or road trainer, these will serve you equally well. They dominated when taken out on a 10-mile summit hike and performed excellently over test runs on sidewalks and roads.
This shoe fluidly handled the trail and the road with equal ease. A few other options can handle both, but all fall behind a superior dualist like the Minimus.
The terms for barefoot in this review were that a shoe had to be lightweight, low-profile with no unnecessary padding, and have zero drop. These fall short in this regard with the 4 mm drop, and 11.5 mm stack height. Maybe these features are desirable to some, but it does detract from the grading criteria and docks it some points. However, these feel just about as minimalist as everything else, and if you aren't a true fanatic, then these are a great pair.
The consensus out there for these is that they are a great shoe with no comfort issues, but a minority of runners prefer a looser fitting shoe with less of a glove-like feel — the Minimus has a super snug upper.
In fact, these were the roughest shoe to break in during this review. But, the road feel from these delivers what draws many runners to the minimalist style. The feedback is less aggressive but still lets you know if your form is slipping by offering the slightest bit of protection.
With this great design of turning the traditional trail cleat into a flatter ovoid with a rough surface, you will not miss a step on any terrain. In the boggy wet season here in Central Virginia we tested these primarily on wet, humid, cool afternoons.
Along the rocks and trails on the James River, these offered a superior grip despite the slick, flat surface of the polished river rocks. The Minimus easily handles these off-road scenarios and behaves more typically with road use.
You could base the merits of the versatility of Minimus 10v1 solely on its cult following. Instead, we took it for plenty of runs on both trails and roads, and brought it into the gym to see how well it would perform for strength training. In all three categories, this shoe excelled, earning one of our highest scores for versatility.
Runners expect to get a season of use at the very least out of every pair they buy. With these, you will not be disappointed. The same reliability that New Balance fanatics have come to expect is present with this iteration. Because of their performance over an extended period and repeated success, they are a great choice for someone with an extensive training plan. Just like that pair of FiveFingers shoes that fanatics have had for years, these will be around for as long as you'll let them.
We think these are approaching an unreachable category of cost. With some comfort issues and a prolonged break-in period, some may be better served by a less burly offering. But if this isn't your first pair of NB minimalist shoes, then you've likely already decided to throw down your credit card on a second or third pair of your favorite trainers.
There's an easy to comprehend reason why this platform has spanned many years of repeats and re-issues. Fans of New Balance's minimalist workhorse love the more stylish sneaker look coupled with their performance on trails or city runs. Some issues with fit and comfort apply mainly to people with higher arches and a higher bridge to their feet. If you have worn these before, then you already know if they are right for you and will love them just as much as your last pair.
— Thomas King