New Balance Minimus 1010 Trail Shoes

Manufacturer Description

The New Balance Minimus 1010 trail runner introduces a new kind of minimal fit to the performance-driven runner, taking a remarkably lightweight, stylish upper and combining it with ROCK STOP protection in the forefoot and a supremely durable Vibram outsole. Knocked down to a 4mm drop, this up-and-coming minimalist superstar helps you go the distance again and again while simultaneously allowing you to concentrate on your form and the exhilarating feel of the trail beneath you.

Features

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  • Inspired by Good Form Running
  • Designed to be worn with or without socks.
  • 4mm drop from heel to toe
  • Debris-free construction eliminates waste
  • Synthetic/mesh upper provides lightweight comfort and support
  • Puncture resistant toe
  • Synthetic moisture-wicking liner fabric
  • Non-removable insole
  • Rock Stop flexible protection layer
  • Vibram rubber outsole with full length lugs
  • NL-1 running last
  • Available in medium and wide widths
  • Tested size 9
    • Weight – 213 g (7.5 oz)
    • Toe box width – 101.3 mm (4.0 in)
    • Stack height – 23 mm (heel), 19 mm (toe), 4 mm drop
  • Retail – $110

YMMV Review

New Balance and in particular, their Minimus line have been some of my favorite tests for the site. They were one of the first big companies to design around the lower drop principle in shoes. Recently, they have added some shoes that fill in the middle ground between a true minimalist shoe and a traditional running shoe. This is one of those shoes; the 1010 is a Minimus Amped Up.

Top View – Click to See Larger

New Balance themselves are located out of the Boston, Massachusetts area and have now been making running shoes since 1938 and footwear since 1906. They have a loyal following due to the fact they have shoes for every type of runner and walker. They also do a great job of providing different widths to accommodate a variety of foot shapes. I personally have been using their shoes for only a couple of years as the MT101 converted me over to a New Balance runner. Since the 101 they have steadily made changes, and it seems like each iteration is an improvement on the others. I want to thank New Balance for sending me these shoes to test.

Testing

The Minimus 1010 is a trail shoe. For this reason, I tried to get it on as many trails as possible and even got it in some mud. This is a tough task in the High Desert. The run was actually in Portland’s Forest Park. I have now put in around 50 miles on the shoes. About 80% of the miles were on trails while the other 20% were roads or sidewalks. For the most part, the weather has been nice for the testing, but I did get a little mud to really test the traction in.

Design ★★★½☆

Appearance (20%) ★★★★☆

Construction (35%) ★★★☆☆

Lacing (15%) ★★★☆☆

Sustainability (10%) ★★½☆☆

Weight (20%) ★★★★☆

The New Balance Minimus 1010 Trail Shoes are still part of the Minimus Collection but have a little more to them. Minimus calls them their Amp Collection as it really is a MT10 on steroids. They have taken many of the features of the more minimalist shoes and added more cushioning, heel-toe drop, and a rock plate. I will get into this a bit more. Here is where the technical description of the shoe design begins, if you would rather get my thoughts on fit and performance, I would scroll down now.

Side View from Below – Click to See Larger

The 1010 has a lightweight mesh upper with synthetic overlays that have been strategically placed to help support the foot. Mainly located in the midfoot and over the ball of the foot, these overlays work in tandem with the lacing system to secure the foot and add upper durability. For increased durability and protection, there is also a puncture resistant toe covering. The lacing system is standard by overall design with an extra eyelet at the top so you can use a heel lock technique if you prefer to. The tongue is made of the same lightweight mesh as the upper but has some cool design elements to improve on the standard design. First, the tongue is gusseted to keep debris out and to keep it in place. Both sides are not equal however, one side is stitched up higher, which make it easier to get your foot in and out while not negatively affecting the performance or comfort.

On the inside of the shoes, New Balance has used a moisture wicking liner for both comfort and to move moisture away from the skin. This is a common cause of blisters. There is minimal padding in the shoe, located exclusively around the collar of the heel. The insole has been permanently stitched for comfort and weight savings. The way it has been constructed hides the laces and prevents a smooth surface for both running with socks or without. This does mean that the shoes are not able to accommodate a custom orthotic. For cushioning, New Balance uses their REVlite foam compound. According to New Balance, this cushioning provides premium responsiveness and durability at 30% lighter weight than other comparable foams. Sandwiched between the midsole and the outsole is a Rock Stop protection layer in the forefoot to protect from sharp objects. This Rock Stop plate is flexible so it does not negatively affect the running gait and can be seen when looking at the outsole.

The outsole is a supremely durable rubber that has been strategically placed for traction and durability. The full sole has aggressive multi direction lugs to provide traction for both push off and braking. The outsole only uses rubber in the essential places to save weight and keep the shoes fast. When viewing the shoes from the bottom this makes much more sense. The 1010 has been built on New Balance’s NL-1 last and is available in medium and wide width.

New Balance Minimus 1010 Commercial – Get Inspired to Get Dirty!

Like many New Balance Shoes, the 1010’s are not made of any sustainable materials to my knowledge. On the other hand, New Balance does have some sustainable initiatives in place. The 1010’s use a debris-free construction method. This eliminates waste, preserving raw materials and providing an environmentally preferred manufacturing solution. In their New Balance Sustains program; New Balance focuses on environmental issues in product design, development, and manufacturing. They are using life cycle assessments to inform material selection. New balance is focusing on using environmentally preferred materials whenever possible. They are also trying to identify and control hazardous substances to prevent their use in products. Their other main focus has been on the reduction of waste from the manufacturing process. So while the1010′s are not using any sustainable materials, it is good to see that New Balance is working to do their part in becoming more environmentally responsible.

View of the Sole – Click to See Larger

Fit ★★★★☆

Comfort (25%) ★★★★½

Foot Length (15%) ★★★☆☆

Foot Volume (15%) ★★★½☆

Heel Width (15%) ★★★½☆

Midfoot Width (15%) ★★★½☆

Toe Box Width (15%) ★★★★½

The Minimus 1010 is made on the New Balance NL-1 last. According to New Balance, this last has a standard heel width, wider forefoot, lower instep height, and shallower toe box depth. It is running specific but obviously does not limit you to only running. I personally have liked this last. New Balance uses it in both the MT10 and the MT110, both of which I have reviewed for the website. I am normally a size 9, that is what I tested here, and it would not have changed a thing. I should mention that 95% of my testing was with socks on. New Balance has designed these to be able to be worn both with and without socks but definitely prefer socks. Not because of the shoes but in general. The length was solid with just a little room beyond my big toe, just how I like it. Even when I wore some slightly thicker socks on cooler days in the last week, there was still room beyond my toe. Never did I have any problems from my toe hitting the front of the shoes. According to New Balance, the shoes have a lower instep height and toe box, which would in theory lead to less volume. I personally did not notice this as the shoes felt like they had plenty of room for my mid-volume foot. I have tested shoes with more volume, and these were definitely not as spacious as those, but they by no means felt tight or low. With the lacing and overall design, I would recommend these to mid and low-volume feet and for those with higher volume feet I think they will be just fine, but it would be important to try them on first.

Tongue with Different Amounts Gusseted – Click to See Larger

According to New Balance and their description of the NL-1 last they have the heel as standard width and the toe box as a wider width. In my experience, I would agree with the assessment of the fit. The heel was not snug, but it was a tight enough ft that I did not have any issues with it moving around. There is a little padding around the collar which helps provide some heel pocket. Through the midfoot, the width is mainly determined by how tight you have your laces. I would call it a medium width and when compared to the zero drop Minimus models it feels like they are a touch wider. The zero drop shoes are able to be tightened to the point where they can really cinch down on your midfoot. The 1010’s did not seem to have that same feeling but rather a feeling of just a snug and close fit. What I really like about these is the wide toe box. Just like the MT10 and MT110 these have a wider toe box with an excellent shape. This was one of the main changes New Balance made when coming from the MT101 to the MT110, and I am glad they stayed with the same shape.

The inside of the shoes are once again very comfortable. They have finished the inside to reduce the amount of seams and used fabric that will help wick away moisture if you choose to go sockless. Your socks should do this if you choose to wear them. They have also used a permanently stitched in insole that not only reduces weight but makes the shoes that much more comfortable. They were comfortable both with and without socks, I just prefer socks so most of my testing was done with them on. I never had any issues of blisters or hot spots on any of my runs.

Protected Toe – Click to See Larger

Performance ★★★½☆

Breathability (15%) ★★★½☆

Cushioning (25%) ★★★½☆

Durability (20%) ★★★½☆

Flexibility (15%) ★★★☆☆

Protection (10%) ★★★½☆

Traction (15%) ★★★½☆

I found that the MT1010’s are a good balance between a zero drop minimalist shoe like the MT00 and a fully cushioned standard drop shoe. These have 4 mm of heel/toe drop which I have found to be my sweet spot. If I had to choose one shoe to run in it would be a 4 mm drop shoe. I like zero drop shoes for some of my running, but it still can be a bit hard on my calves if it makes up all of my running. This 4 mm drop also makes these a great transitional shoe for those looking to get into a midfoot or forefoot running stride. When making changes to your running you want to make smaller changes so this provides a stepping stone to a zero drop shoe if that is your ultimate goal.

I think the Minimus 1010 is a good balance between full proprioception and some protection for your feet. As it is a trail shoe, this means you will be running on dirt, rocks, and all manner of debris. Protection for your feet is a good thing as if you have ever landed on a sharp rock in an ultra minimal shoe like Vibram Five Fingers, you may be out of commission for a couple of days depending on the rock. I know I have bruised the bottom of my foot a couple of times really good. The 1010 has a small amount of cushioning and a forefoot rock plate that will protect from those rocks I just talked about. When compared to the MT10 the 1010 has 8 mm more stack, much of which is cushioning. Compared to the 110 these are 5 mm thicker so you can see that the 1010 is more cushioned then other Minimus offerings. There is a loss of ground feel that will always come from the addition of cushioning. With the 1010 you can still feel some of the ground but definitely not as much as the MT10’s. Depending on what you like this may be a good or bad thing. The only other drawback with a thicker sole is the reduced flexibility. While in the 1010 the shoes are slightly stiffer, it is not much of a change from the MT10 and MT110, especially when running. In your hands, you can feel it more.

Looking Inside – Click to See Larger

Most of my runs in these have been on the shorter side as I have been battling an injury. No it was not caused by these shoes, but I think it may have been aggravated when I tested the MT110’s. If you read that review, I was super excited about that update of the MT101 as they were lowering the drop and widening the toe box. I figured they would be perfect except, they also decided to build up the outside lugs on the sole and for me this made it feel like my foot rotated inward more at impact. Not sure if that is it, but I have been fighting IT band issues since. For that reason, I have held off on the higher mileage until training resumes in the new year. I can happily say that the Minimus 1010 does not have the built up outside lugs like the MT110 did (side note: in 2013, they will be changing the 110 to remove this.) I felt like the 1010 tracked straight and ran like I had hoped the MT110 would have. While I did not put in any really long runs, I still think these are an excellent long run shoe, especially for higher mileage as there is a bit more cushioning and protection. My form has a tendency to deteriorate when I get up there in miles so having the extra cushioning on trails is important.

I felt like the traction on the shoes really did a good job. The lugs are not huge, but they really did not have to be for me. In Bend, we really do not have many instances where you need a lot of traction unless it snows so I never had any issues. I did get a chance to get some running in at Forest Park in Portland, and there you definitely need some traction. The park is on the side of the hill so you are often going up or down. Pair that with the wet conditions of Portland and you have some wet or muddy dirt trails on the side of a hill. I had some instances when I was running downhill where it was really steep, and you could see where people had slid out before me. I slowed down my run and increased my cadence to maintain control and never missed a step. I felt like the shoes did an excellent job keeping me upright. When it came to climbing I again had great traction, so far so good on the 1010.

Overall ★★★★☆

Overall, the New Balance Minimus 1010 has been one of my favorite tests thus far. I find it ideal for longer trail runs where my form may deteriorate as I get tired. The extra cushioning is much appreciated when I get sloppy. Now that New Balance has been making the Minimus line for a couple of years they seem to have gotten the fit down. I really liked how these shoes fit, especially in the forefoot. I liked wearing these better with socks than without. I generally do not like going sockless on trails as the dust and little pebbles can create comfort issues. While the tongue on these helped I still liked socks better. For me, these shoes hit my sweet spot when it comes to stack height. I like running in zero drops but find I cannot handle all my miles and especially my longer runs in these zero drop shoes. Traction is solid, and the shoes have been holding up well. If you are looking for a fast, cushioning, low drop trail running shoe, I would highly recommend taking a look at these. The New Balance Minimus 1010 Trail Shoes retail for $110, which I think is fair for what you get. The question is, would I buy these shoes? Yes, I would. As always, your mileage may vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Lightweight
  • Low Drop
  • Good traction
  • Good amount of cushioning and protection in a light shoe
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Wide forefoot

Cons

  • Price?
  • Extra cushioning equals less flexibility

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About the author

I am an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, hiker, climber, skier and many other activities that would make this list too long. I started Your Mileage May Vary Reviews in Early 2011 to combine two of my passions: sports and gear.

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