New Balance Minimus WT 20 Review

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Brand: New Balance

Name: Minimus Trail

Color Options: Orange/beige, Gray/gray, Black/periwinkle, black/pink, different beige/orange, black/gray, black/teal, blue/white, black/yellow/bright blue

Weight: 5.5oz, probably dependent upon shoe size.

Drop: 4mm from heel to toe.

Other: Comes in WT10 or WT20. The WT20 has a slightly modified upper and less of a “toe spring”. Comes sporting a sole by Vibram.

Price: $99.99


Overview/Introduction

Hey everybody! My name is Ally, and I’m a high school/college friend of Meagan’s, and started running around the same time Meagan and Steve did (though I admit to not being as diligent!)

Truth be told, I hated running. I still kind of do, but after I began working somewhere where pretty much everybody ran, I decided I wanted to run in a local 5k, just as a goal for myself. And because I had picked up a pair of these awesome Vibram FiveFinger shoes (the Sprints, to be exact), I decided after some research I would start out running barefoot-style instead of using the old, broken down regular cross training shoes I had.

It turns out, I liked it. I really, really liked it. Against all common sense one night, though, I decided it was too cold to run in the next-to-nothing soles the Vibrams had, and wore regular running shoes. Needless to say, I was pretty much a convert from then on – the regular shoes felt frankly wrong, and my shins and calves felt like they’d been whacked with a steel bat repeatedly. Never again.

My Vibrams, like they tend to do after heavy use, actually wore through and developed holes in the toes, so new shoes were in order. I went to the local running store here (Running Fit in Ann Arbor – great place if you’re in SE Michigan like me) and tried on various “minimal” shoes that looked like regular shoes (People staring at your feet at the gym tends to get old). I decided from that preliminary fit that I liked the New Balance Minimus Trail best of all. At $99, it wasn’t expensive enough to break the bank, but expensive enough that I figured they’d be decent quality and hold up over time. After a few runs, I don’t see any issues with durability, and this is in all weathers. The soles are made by Vibram, too, which was a huge plus for me. I’m a huge fan of Vibram and their products, and have used Vibram-soled hiking shoes for years.

After a few months of testing both indoors and outdoors, I’ve come to a few conclusions.

  1. They look like BAMF futuristic shoes. And come in tons of colors, including pink, which… well, come on. Sold.
  2. People did indeed stop staring at my feet at the gym.

Comfort/Barefoot Feel

The Minimus does offer the feeling of running with a natural midfoot stride, and is incredibly lightweight at 5.5oz. It is also super comfy, with a flexible sole that still feels cushioned. It stands up to long runs as well as long days at work (I work retail, so wearing them to work a few days were pivotal parts of my testing). However, absolute minimalist “purists” (is that even a thing?) may not care for exactly how much squish they have.

One downside I found was that there was plenty of room in the toe box, and I mean plenty. I picked the size I did because the vamp was tight, whereas the extra room in the toe box took some getting used to so as to not trip. And speaking of tripping, I bought the VFF Sprints because of their lack of laces, which I did not realize was such a big plus until I bought the Minimus. A few times now, I’ve had to pause my runs to tie my shoes, even double knotted. One solution I found was to wear Sweet Spot shoe bands that I had left over from my soccer days, but, unbelievably, doing so altered my run the teeniest bit (and wore out the Sweet Spots from the bottom). But, that’s certainly not enough to write the shoe off entirely – I’m sure different laces would do wonders.

Aesthetics

The Minimus’ sleek look is actually one of my favorite things about it – maybe I’m just vain, I don’t know. It looks like a “standard” running shoe, but souped-up and almost… futuristic. There’s very little unplanned or wasted design space. The shoe fits close to the foot, isn’t super wide, and a silicone sort of mesh not only looks nifty, but keeps your foot cool and dry whether you wear socks or not. (For the record, I don’t.) Also, the soles (which are made by Vibram!), have a really neat pattern that allow a lot of flexing to give it its barefoot feel while still having some squish that will appeal to runners looking to transition.

Pros:

  • Breathable!
  • Looks nifty and futuristic, and comes in a variety of colors.
  • Good shoe for those looking to transition to minimal running.
  • Comfortable enough for long runs or daily wear.
  • Flexible sole.

Cons:

  • Laces can come untied easily.
  • Toe box almost feels too lose compared to vamp sizing.
  • Potentially too much cushion for experienced or purist minimal runners.
  • Also, potentially too much drop for minimalist runners at 4mm, as Meagan has mentioned before. 

Summary:

Bottom line? The New Balance Minimus Trail is stylish, comfortable, won’t attract odd looks at the gym. It is also versatile and good for running or even day-to-day use, but is a little big in the toes, and without some different laces or some sort of modification to the stock shoe, you may be in for a few shoe-tying stops. I’m in love with my Sprints and want a new pair soon, but until I get them, these shoes are amazing and definitely recommended.

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