Brand: New Balance
Weight: 7.75 oz
Stack Height: 19mm/15mm
With my first Tough Mudder coming up, I wanted to find a good trail shoe that offered a little more padding than Vibram’s offerings, but was still minimalist. When my search started I was the owner of a pair of New Balance MT-100s and MT-101s, as well as a pair of Brooks PureGrits. None of these shoes are ideal for a obstacle race, but I was pretty happy with my MT-101s for trail running, so when I started my search and stumbled across the 110s, I knew I had to see them in person and try them on. Once I did, I knew they were the shoes I wanted.
After taking them out on a few initial trail runs, as well as Tough Mudder Las Vegas, I have to say that the 110s have outperformed any and all expectations I had for them. The grip on both wet and dry ground is exceptional, with a mid-to-narrow fit on the foot and an open toe box. Anybody that has ran in the MT-100s or the MT-101s should try the 110s, as they are a fresh new take based on the New Balance Minimus line. New Balance also made sure they fixed some of the complaints people had about the MT-100/MT-101s, such as the back of the shoe being so stiff it would often cause blisters.
The 110s are of the MT-family of of trail shoes by New Balance, but they took some design cues from the Minimus line and created a sort of hybrid between the two. The 110 has the company’s NL1 natural running last, which just debuted in this year’s Minimus lineup. That means the shoe has a more natural, foot shape to it, with a flatter sole, wider toe box, and snugger fit.
The upper is a synthetic material with diamond-cut holes for ventilation and draining, which can look both cool and odd at first glance. Most running shoes have a woven cloth construction so the single-piece synthetic can take a little getting used to visually.
While the 110 is considered a minimalist shoe by virtue of its 4mm drop, it still has a 19mm (heel) and 15mm (toe) stack height, taking it out of the “barefoot” classification of shoes.
The 110 fits like a glove if you have average sized feet, but will probably be too tight for those with wider and/or thicker feet. The inside of the shoe is soft and seamless, allowing you to wear them with or without socks. The fit around the heel and mid-foot is nice and tight, with the toe box being open enough to allow your toes to splay when running.
My initial impression after running some trails and Tough Mudder has been very pleasurable. The very first time I put them on and ran with them, it felt very natural as if I had already been running in them for months.
So how do they feel on trails covered in rocks? I’ve kicked rocks and stepped on rocks while wearing the 110s, and they feel about as you’d expect: you know you hit a rock, but there isn’t any pain. The sole of the shoe does a good job of dispersing the impact over a wider area, making the rocks feel a lot rounder and softer than they actually are.
So far I’m very pleased with the 110s and can’t wait to do my 200-mile review when the time comes.
- Minimalist, 4mm drop
- Great traction on dirt
- Open toe box
- Can be worn without socks
- ACTEVA foam used for midsole wears fast
- Synthetic upper appears fragile