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.comNB Minimus, a collection of lightweight, versatile, minimalist footwear is designed to provide a “better than barefoot” experience. A three shoe collection, NB Minimus will include road running, trail running, and wellness styles. All three styles will be available at select specialty retailers in March 2011. Each style will retail for $100.
Key to the NB Minimus collection is a new anatomically correct last designed with significantly less drop from heel to forefoot (4 mm in all styles compared to 12.5 mm in traditional athletic shoes). This gradual drop positions the foot into a more neutral stance and promotes a more natural stride by moving the wearer off their heel and encouraging a mid-foot landing. Each shoe uses stretch materials and minimal constructions that reduce weight. (each NB Minimus style in men’s size 9.5 weighs less than 8.5 oz)
Extensive research conducted through the New Balance Sports Research Lab (SRL) shows that the tendency for mid-foot or forefoot strike is correlated to midsole thickness and that less cushioning encourages a mid-foot strike. As a result, each NB Minimus shoe was engineered with lower sole unit heights. The reduced midsole and outsole thickness also allows the foot to flex up and down more easily.
Both the NB Minimus road shoe--the MR/WR10--and the NB Minimus trail shoe--the MT/WT10--are designed for road and trail runners who prefer minimal footwear and to serve as a training tool for runners who aspire to change their gait. For the NB Minimus trail shoe New Balance collaborated with Vibram®, the world leader in advanced performance sole design, to create an outsole design that is engineered for natural movement and provides off-road durability and traction.