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 915 is a new high performance trail shoe for the outdoor adventure seeker. It is a premium stability shoe offering an optimal blend of cushioning and support.
The 915 is the first shoe to launch in a revamped New Balance performance trail line. A complete review of the New Balance trail design architecture resulted in a new “what you see is what you get” philosophy, a “less is more” mentality. This translates into simpler more streamlined shoes with fewer overlays; shoes that provide an athlete with what he/she needs without being overbuilt – all details have a function and a purpose.
To that end, the New Balance 915 trail shoe boasts a simplified midsole/outsole. A reconfigured RockStop plate provides for a more flexible outsole, giving the runner a better feel for the terrain underfoot. Stabilicore components cradle the heel, support both sides of the foot, and allow for a smooth heel-to-toe transition. Abzorb® cushioning in the heel and forefoot ensures a comfortable experience with each step.
The 915 upper has also been completely overhauled. The new design architecture is best displayed here where a single layer of synthetic is welded to a single layer of mesh for support that doesn’t sacrifice comfort. Visibility and depth are also a focus in the shoe, as evidenced by the opaque saddle material and translucent heel counter. SuperFabric® on the toe of the 915 offer a puncture-proof, abrasion-resistant protective layer that is backed by impact absorbing foam – creating an improved fit in the toe box and a “bumper” like quality. In order to account for the unexpected elements of trail running, the 915 features a quick drying mesh upper and a non water absorbing collar foam. A new Debris Free Construction has also been added to keep rocks and dirt out of the shoes and to allow the free floating internal Lockdown Liner to maintain a high degree of adjustability. An Ortholite insert and Abzorb® strobe board complete the premium performance package.