New Balance MT10 Minimus
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $105
These were my first minimalist shoe, and after many more they are still my favorite.
- Just the right amount of ground feel
- Shed water well
- Mud fills sole lugs easily
- Sole wears quickly
These were my first pair of minimalist shoes and I have to say, after half a dozen other models by various makers, they are still my favorite all around trail shoe. New Balance is my go-to for minimalist running shoes. The MT10's have just the right amount of ground feel and the 4mm heel-toe drop feels pretty damn close to zero drop.
I've worn these on some pretty technical trails and they perform very well. The traction is fine on hard packed dirt and rocks, but the lugs are very small and struggle on mud because the voids between the lugs are shallow and mud fills them easily.
I wore these at the Mt.Snow VT Tough Mudder and finished in the top 5% of the 10,000 people who participated, and have worn them for a handful of other "adventure races" so they can handle what you toss at them. They are not my dedicated training shoe, simply because they are a little more minimal than I like to wear on training runs but they are great for shedding water and dealing with obstacles that require balance. I wouldn't wear these for one of my Trail Ultras, I think 15 miles is their cutoff for me.
I still wear my first pair, probably more for nostalgia than anything, but hey, they still work.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $70
A great minimalist shoe.
- can be used without socks
- fits like a glove
- not for everyone
These shoes feel like they were made for my feet. I have relatively narrow feet but a wide toe-box. I also have fairly high arches. I do not have any stability problems and have been running in Brooks racing flats for four or five years now.
I do not like these as much for running, as they are very much a minimalist shoe and take some getting used to, but I have really enjoyed them for hiking and walking. On the trail, I can 'feel' the surface, which makes me feel more connected. Sprinting quietly and lightly over a nice soft bed of pine needles and Everglades peat is a wondrous feeling indeed.
I also did one of those obstacle/mud/water crossing races in these and they were perfect for the various conditions. I like these shoe so much because you can wear them without socks. Your feet feel so light and unencumbered.
Because of the lack of almost all aspects of 'normal' shoes, your feet do get a work-out in these. I noticed muscles in my feet that I never even knew I had during a longer hike (10 miles). If you don't build up to using shoes like this, you can hurt yourself. So just take it easy at first.
Price Paid: $95
Disclaimer: I run ultras.
This fits what I've been looking for in a very lightweight trainer. Close-to-the-ground feel. Minimal material in the upper and a thin gusseted tongue. I live in Houston, so there aren't any significant hills or rocky terrain to take them on, but I do feel the occasional sharp root. Rocks will definitely be felt. The toe bump is sufficient and the toe box is wide enough to let the toes spread.
I've been running in my Vibram Five Fingers for a couple of months so the transition to a low heel drop was easy.
My beef with them is the extra room between my ankle and the shoe. I will occasionally get debris inside the shoe. Maybe it would be different with socks on but I prefer to go sockless.