Review: New Balance MT110

The MT110 was arguably one of the most anticipated shoe releases of 2012, being an update of the MT101, but instead build on the highly popular Minimus last used for the MT10 and MT20 (New Balance Minimus Trail). The run down of the shoe is pretty simple:

7.7 ounces (men’s size 9)
15/19mm height (forefoot/heel)
Rock Plate

The upper, which is made out of a synthetic leather with a sock-like liner, gives you the sensation that your foot is firmly attached to the mid and outsole. There’s no sense of frowziness, in fact the upper as a whole is rather supportive, keeping the foot firmly in place on lateral movements, all the while not feeling restrictive, or in  any way annoying. The liner is designed to be worn sockless, and succeeds, all the while still being exceptionally well-ventilated. In fact, I like this upper substantially more than the MT101 (which mind you, I ran into the ground) and the MT10 (which I’ve also run a hefty sum in). Also worth noting is how well this shoe drains water. In interviews about shoes with Krupicka, he often mentions this as one of the more important characteristics in a shoe, since it allows the runner to be not the least nit hesitant about stream/river crossings, and his input has obviously had an impact. Even when these shoes are fully submerged, the feel comfortable, and are no more prone to causing blisters than when they’re dry.

The outsole is in a diamond studded pattern, concentrated in the forefoot, and on the heel, with the midfoot completely devoid of rubber. It turns out that the outsole rubber is one of the heaviest parts of the shoe, and NB decided that it would be unnecessary to put rubber in the midsole. They are right. This shoe gains purchase at an alarmingly quick rate on a variety of terrain, ranging from hard packed dirt, to slick rock, talus, snow, mud, you name it. The modest amount of foam, and full rock plate certainly takes the edge off of any rocks under foot, all the while maintaining a relatively intimate trail feel. Running in the MT110, I never have any fear of hurting my foot on a rock like I do when I take out my Merrell Trail Gloves, or my MT10’s, rather, i feel like I can run over almost any terrain confident that I can feel what’s under my feet, without abusing my feet.

Overall, I have to say this is the best shoe I’ve run in, period. When I lace them up, they feel as if they’re a part of my feet, rather than something I’ve put over them. While they’re not a “barefoot” shoe, they maintain a lot of the core tenets that barefoot runners seem  interested in: wide toe box, low heel-toe drop, no arch support etc. In fact, in my opinion the fact that they’re not a “barefoot” shoe, is one of the biggest selling points. This shoe is designed for one sole purpose, running ultramarathons as fast as possible, and with that in mind, I’ve just purchased my second pair as we leap into racing season.

Oh, and if you’re wondering about durability, my “old” pair have been run for 491 miles at the time of writing, and I expect at least another 2-300 out of them, the out-sole is showing some wear, and the mid-sole isn’t as cushy as it once was, but the upper is in-tact, and there are no signs of the mid-sole detaching itself from the upper as is usually the demise of my trail shoes.

Brand New pair (right) Old Pair (left)

 
Outsole, New on top, Old on bottom (491 miles)

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