Friday, July 1, 2011

New Balance Minimus Shoes <=>

When I was a kid I always had to show mom & dad how fast I could run when I got new shoes. As I got older, it was a little tougher to find shoes that caused the same excitement. I have picky feet so fit is VERY important and I'm not very tolerant of breaking shoes in. I've always preferred trail runners over traditional hiking boots. I pack light and I hike with trekking poles so there's really no need for bomber boots in my opinion. Trail runners are more comfortable, lighter, dry faster if you poke your foot in the river and they're generally cooler.

I've been keeping an eye on the barefoot running fad for awhile now. The Vibram Five-Finger shoes are in every outfitter I visit. Most of the large running shoe companies have some variant of a barefoot running / free running shoe. Unfortunately, most of them have been relatively uninteresting to me until recently.

I was excited about the looks of the Merrell Trail Glove ... until I tried them on. The fit was just odd with a very tight midsole & enough room in the toe box that I wouldn't need a bivy anymore. That's only a slight exaggeration. If your feet fit in these shoes I'm not saying you're weird - I'm just saying you have weird feet.

Ultimately, I tried on the New Balance Minimus and liked the fit. They have a minimal sole without being moccasins, the construction appears to be durable and well thought out and best of all... they're actually comfortable.

So, what's the best test for your maiden voyage with new minimalist shoes? The rockiest, sandiest place on the AT - the Grayson Highlands, of course! This was my first experience hiking in the area. I know from mountain biking that trails in the Virginia mountains are famous for their rock. These trails took it to an extreme, though.

Caution - shoe & foot torture zone ahead!

I was honestly surprised. The trail left my feet a little fatigued at the end of the day but it wasn't significantly worse than when I hike in my favorite Brooks Adrenalines. The grip and stability was fantastic and water shedding was better than anything I've worn. The combination of the Minimus shoes and my rusty, trusty WrightSock CoolMesh II socks made for the fastest drying footwear I've ever had on the trail. I have a knack for stuffing my foot in water where ever I find it so its a feature that doesn't go unappreciated.

My feet are still dry here. Just give me a few seconds... I'll have a wet foot in no time.
I've been wearing them around town as well with similar results and I'm looking forward to my next hike on normal trails! Recommended!


  1. I really like these too but they rubbed the back of my heel pretty raw. Any suggestions to prevent this in the future? Otherwise I really liked them. And they weigh SOOOO much less than by hiking boots. Dropped from 32.4 oz per foot to 8.8 oz per foot (size 13s).


  2. Yeah, I let a sock work down and ground a hole in one heel but that was my fault for being lazy with my socks. I usually walk with the low top WrightSocks si there isn't a lot of room for error.

  3. Thanks Don. I will give that a try. I wore them without socks for my first few hikes since that is what was recommended by NB, but I am going to give socks a try now.

  4. You could always go sock less but put a preventative band aid or blister strip where the heel is giving you issues.

  5. I bought these shoes and wore them casually for a few weeks in July here and there. The right shoe rubs the back of my ankle, while the left does not - otherwise I love them. I went on a 15km hike in my traditional Merrell hiking shoes and after ending the hike with blisters and sore ankles/feet, I wondered how the Minimus would have held up.

    So I went on a 25km hike the following weekend and chose the Minimus Trail shoes instead (barefoot). Knowing the back of my ankle would be rubbed, I put on a couple preventative band-aids before-hand. It was a fairly rocky trail and required lots of work from my ankles to balance. I found that giving my ankles the ability to balance my body was far superior to "ankle support" in my traditional hikers. Where I would stand on a rock and my ankle would roll laterally ... this would normally scare me in regular hikers. Once you start to roll your ankle a bit in shoes with ankle support, it's like a tree falling down.. TIIIMBER! In these, the grip was great, allowing my ankle to adjust and support my body on uneven surfaces.

    My ankles were certainly "TIRED" after such a long hike, but 0 blisters this time. I was concerned about the sole of my foot bruising because of how rocky the trail was, but they were fine. Somewhat tender after the hike, but they were okay! Never did I wince when stepping on rocks, though I would try to avoid ones that I may have normally stepped on with thick soled hikers.

    I think I may look for some WrightSocks to try out in these, as I do like to have socks on if I wear them casually.

  6. Great update, Brad! I had the same experience as you when hiking the Grayson Highlands on LOTS of rocks. Great stability and grip - tired feet but not as bad as I expected. With regular use I would expect my feet to strengthen to eliminate that as well.

  7. Sorry to bother you - I just wore mine for the first time last night on a trail run and had holes in both of my toes. Have you heard of this or know what could cause it? There is a small space between my toes and the front so they're not too small..

  8. Meg, I've never heard of that particular problem. I've treated mine pretty poorly without any failures so far (including using them as river shoes with a packrafting trip). I'd take them back where I bought them for warranty / exchange.

  9. Sorry to bother you - I just wore mine for the first time last night on a trail run and had holes in both of my toes. Have you heard of this or know what could cause it? There is a small space between my toes and the front so they're not too small..

  10. I love mine, and I've been wearing them daily for a few weeks now. I walk at minimum 5 miles a day (i work in NYC and walk a lot) and they've been great. Wonderful grip, ultra light, and no hot feet. My only complaint is that after just about 3 weeks the soles are already starting to wear. I don't imagine at this rate that they are going to last even a year. It doesnt help that i'm 6'3", 250lbs, but still. Otherwise, love them. I'm tempted to try them on an overnight hike, but i'll probably wear something else and just keep them as my every day walking shoes.