The New Balance Minimus 20v4 is a lightweight, minimalist shoe that is marketed as a cross-trainer for strength and interval training workouts. However, we found this shoe to be uncomfortable and it did not support our feet during lifting movements. Our testers complained that the shoe has a distinct lack of support in the midsole which led to some uncomfortable runs as well. Previous versions of this shoe were quite popular with CrossFitters and some athletes are still sporting their aging older models, but the newer version has not impressed us. While this shoe is not well-suited to lifting workouts, its lightweight design is nice for bodyweight movements such as handstand pushups or pull-ups. If you are specifically looking for a minimalist shoe, we preferred the Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 over this one. Otherwise, our Editors' Choice winning Nike Metcon is your best bet for an all-around CrossFit shoe.
New Balance Minimus 20v4 - Women's Review
Cons: Lacks support, uncomfortable.
Manufacturer: New Balance
Our Analysis and Test Results
The New Balance Minimus 20v4 weighs 5.1 ounces (146 grams) and has a 4 mm heel drop with a Vibram outsole.
We gave this shoe one of the lowest scores for weightlifting. It was difficult to keep our balance during heavy lifts due to a lack of support. If you are looking for a minimalist shoe that also stands up to some light lifts then you are better off with the Inov-8 Bare-XF 210. The Bare-XF was more stable for lifting while still being a lightweight shoe.
This shoe received a low score for running as well, as there is absolutely no support under the midsole and arch. Granted, this a minimalist running shoe, however the lack of support forced our feet to roll inward in a pronated position. The Nike Lunar Cross Element is a better choice for running workouts because it encourages a more neutral foot position. This shoe also hits much higher on the heel than other models. One shoe tester developed blisters due to the higher heel tab after a workout which included running 1200 meters and doing 63 boxjumps.
If you are not already accustomed to minimalist running shoes, this model is definitely not for you. Even though we regularly use minimalist shoes it was over-sensitive for us as well. When running we felt every little rock and sidewalk crack under our feet. You do not want to heel strike in this shoe.
When deadlifting and Olympic lifting you need a solid platform under your feet. The lack of support with this shoe when setting up for a lift made one reviewer feel like she was "trying to balance on hills and valleys under my feet." In contrast, the Reebok Nano 2.0 gave us a firmer connection with the ground. Also, the uppers of the shoe are flimsy and do not provide much support for running on uneven terrain or jumping.
Protection / Durability
The thin uppers do not provide much protection during rope climbs or from the slice of a jump rope with double unders. The material on the side of the uppers is too slick for rope climbs and doesn't grip as well as the rubber on the Nike Metcon 1. On the plus side, we did not see any visible damage to the shoes after sliding down the rope a few times.
One area where this shoe did impress us was its breathability. While the thin upper construction is a hindrance in many ways, it does make for a cooler shoe in the heat of a workout.
This shoe ranked last in comfort for most of our testers. Even when walking, the lack of support made one athlete feel as though her foot was falling into a hole under her arch. For all-around comfort, the Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 - Women's is more comfortable for a long day of coaching in the gym.
This shoe is best suited for anything that does not require your feet. The New Balance Minimus 20v4 is fine for bodyweight movements such as muscle-ups, pull ups, ring dips and handstand pushups.
At a cost of $99 we expected more out of this shoe. As CrossFitters we are looking to avoid purchasing a different shoe for every possible movement we might see on the whiteboard, so we search for one shoe that does it all. This model simply does not work as a multipurpose shoe. For the same price, the Reebok Nano 2.0 is a more versatile and comfortable shoe.
Overall, the New Balance Minimus 20v4 is not suited for CrossFit workouts. If you are an accomplished runner accustomed to minimalist shoes you might feel differently. However, the complete lack of support was not acceptable for our workouts that included running and weightlifting.
— Audrey Hammond