New Balance Minimus MX20v3 Review
Cons: Not durable, sensitive/flimsy.
Manufacturer: New Balance
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Minimus was designed with a lightweight, synthetic upper mesh and minimalist sole, bringing the shoe down to 6.5 oz in weight. The construction of the shoe is meant to mimic a barefoot feel and is even able to be worn with or without socks — a testament to their intended level of comfort. Because the shoe is so light in weight, it feels as though you are not wearing anything while performing various movements. Additionally, the mesh of the upper sole, along with its antimicrobial treatment, helps to maximize the shoe's breathability by minimizing sweat and odor buildup during workouts. Unfortunately, while the shoe is definitely lightweight and it does breathe successfully, I cannot get past the discomfort caused by the insole. This is because the insole is designed with a slight arch, putting stress and pressure on the foot of those who lack either a steep arch or any arch in their foot at all.
Support is an important aspect of a training shoe that I believe the Minimus lacks. One of the biggest drawbacks from the minimal amount of material used in the construction of the shoe, is that it reduces the structural rigidity. Where the shoe looks and feels the weakest is in its upper mesh. This area of the shoe doesn't provide your foot with a feeling of security during movements — especially in lateral movements. The softness of the mesh, while great for breathability and lowering the overall compositional weight, does nothing to offer support to your ankles.
Unfortunately, protection is another aspect that I believe the Minimus MX20v3 fails to offer. The construction of the upper leaves it weak and penetrable. It does little to shield your feet from the trauma you are sure to put them through during a WOD. No safety from the razor-sharp wire of your jump rope, no protection from the bar or the box on toes-to-bars and box jumps, and surely no durability on the outer mesh of the shoe to prevent it from shear destruction from the rope-on-rope climbs.
Out of all the shoes that were tested, the Minimus is hands-down the most sensitive shoe. However, in this case, it is not necessarily a great trait. The lack of structure and the flexibility of the soles makes the shoe feel flimsy. One of the other problems I ran in to was I could feel every rock or pebble underneath my foot, so they failed to provide me with a strong sense of confidence during movements. I definitely got the feeling that I was barefoot, but that is too minimalist for my taste, and too distracting for the sport of CrossFit in my opinion.
Weightlifting in the Minimus is something I didn't feel comfortable doing. While the shoe was designed with a 4mm heel-to-toe drop in, its somewhat rigid sole, the lack of stability and support in the upper, and the arched insole made it difficult to control each lift. Anytime I would drop down into a squat position it felt as though my feet were wobbling. It also doesn't help that there is a slight rise in the shoe's toe box that causes you to move onto the balls of your feet rather than maintaining pressure in your heels during a lift.
Running is the one movement where the Minimus really excels. The implementation of the Vibram soles helps maximize traction, making running on indoor and outdoor surfaces very doable. Likewise, the flexibility of the shoe and its lightweight construction helps guide your foot through natural strides. However, if you are not used to a minimalist shoe, the thinness of the sole will not offer you a substantial amount of cushioning and absorption on longer distance runs.
— Jacob Jizrawi