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-8oz 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.
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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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 8oz trail shoe has a slight 4mm drop and its breathable upper, and tough Vibram outsole protect you from the gnarliest roots and rocks so you can focus on killing the trail.
It's pretty clear that this iteration of the Minimus 10v1 does well against the crowd, but is stuck in a middling position due to some comfort and size issues as well as a few lost points for shying away from the 0mm drop that most of the rest of the trainers in this review have stuck with.
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 a few test runs on sidewalks and roads.
Other than the Editor's Choice, Trail Glove 4, no shoe in this review fluidly handled the trail and the road with equal ease. The FiveFinger KSO can handle both but falls behind a superior dualist like the Minimus.
We staked out these terms in our How We Test article; 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. The only area that these fall short in is with the 4mm drop. Maybe that feature is desirable to some, but it does detract from the grading criteria and docks it some points. In fact, the only two shoes that we had for review without zero drop were these and the inov-8 X-Talon 225 - both which have a 4mm drop. However, these feel just about as minimalist as everything else, and if you aren't a true fanatic, then these are a great pair. If, however you are drooling over the Stealth 2 with its superior barefoot adherence then these might not be your cup of tea.
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. These fit similarly to the X-Talon 225 with a super snug upper.
In fact, these were the roughest shoe to break in during this review. But, the road feel from these delivers precisely what draws many runners to the minimalist style. The feedback is less aggressive than the Primus Lite but still lets you know if your form is slipping by offering the slightest bit of protection.
With this great design, similar to the Merrell Vapor Glove 3, 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 as you can see here:
Along the rocks and trails on the James River, these offered a superior grip despite the slick, flat surface of the polished river rocks. Just like the Trail Glove 4, the Minimus 10v1 handles these off-road scenarios equally with more typical road use.
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. Unlike the Vapor Glove 3, with its weaker upper, these are a proven performer on the road. Just like that pair of FiveFinger KSO that fanatics have had for five years, these will be around for as long as you'll let them.
Anyone after a multi-purpose shoe for a minimalist trainer on or off road, around town or at the gym would enjoy these equally. 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.
At $115, we think these are approaching an unreachable category of cost. With some comfort issues and a prolonged break-in period, you'd be better served with something like the Merrell Trail Glove 4. But if this isn't your first pair of NB minimalist shoes than 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 more than 5 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 on typical city runs. Some issues with fit and comfort only apply 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