The sharp granite and rolling trails in Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve don’t exactly scream, “Go barefoot-style here!” But the Minimus 1010, which has a decidedly barefoot profile—14 mm in the heel and 10 mm in the toe—proved cushioned enough for one tenderfoot tester to run hard and fast through potentially foot-pounding terrain. “I never feared where I would land on the rocky trails,” he says. “My feet were so light, I felt like I was flying.” One of a small cadre of truly trail-worthy running shoes under one pound, the Minimus 1010 achieves its balance between freedom and protection via a unique sole made with an exclusive high-traction Vibram rubber.
Twenty-two circular lugs—or pods—of foam cushioning react individually to the terrain, giving runners instant feedback, which helps them adjust their gait and promotes a lower-impact, midfoot strike. A thin TPU forefoot plate rounds out the protection. The 4-mm offset from heel to toe will please those who like a barefoot feel, but the 1010’s aggressive tread gives them a higher profile than a true minimalist shoe (like the New Balance Minimus). The lack of both an insole and foot-facing inside seams makes the shoe comfortable sockless. An extra-wide forefoot allows toes to spread out naturally. Best for medium to wide feet. $110; 15 oz.; m’s 7-14, w’s 5-12; newbalance.comThe New Balance 851 is a lightweight and breathable multi-sport shoe that is positioned to be the little brother to the New Balance 1520 slightly less aggressive, but with much of the same technological and visual DNA that make both shoes so versatile. Designed for a variety of terrain and built to handle whatever is thrown its way, the New Balance 851 is the one shoe youll need for all of your adventure travel and weekend activities. Composed of high quality leathers, the 851 offers a waterproof suede and a water resistant mesh package. The shoe also features a great technology story complete with ABZORB® cushioning, a Stability Web for lightweight midfoot support, and a high traction outsole offering you the protection and support you need when the action heats up.