New Balance Minimus HI-REZ Shoes

Manufacturer Description

Minimus HI-REZ is built using a patent-pending process that creates independent pods of cushioning which move naturally with the foot to deliver unparalleled flexibility and underfoot sensation.

Features

  • Minimus HI-REZ features 42 independent pods of cushioning, which move naturally with the foot to deliver unparalleled flexibility and underfoot sensations.
  • Injection-molded EVA foam for firm yet flexible cushioning
  • Synthetic/Mesh upper
  • FantomFit skeletally engineered upper
  • No-sew upper
  • Strobel last
  • NL-0 running last with standard heel width, wide forefoot, and low toe-box height
  • Measured size 9
    • Weight – 109 g (3.8 oz)
    • Stack Height – 8 mm (heel), 8 mm (toe), Zero Drop
    • Toe box width – 95.4 mm (3.8 in)
  • Retail – $120

YMMV Review

New Balance has been one of the first big shoe companies to embrace the minimalism movement in running shoes. I have reviewed several of their shoes for the site and have been impressed on what they are looking to do. With the launch of the HI-REZ, New Balance now has shoes for just about every level of drop and protection you may be looking for. The HI-REZ being their most minimal shoes yet, they are really something to behold. Just looking at them, they stand out and when you have seen the outsole you realize there is nothing like it.

Top View - Click to See Larger

Top View – Click to See Larger

Testing

I tested the HI-REZ on many of my shorter runs both during training and now afterward. Most of my runs were between three and six miles in length. The surfaces varied from run to run. I ran on a good mix of roads and smooth trails. Conditions have been mainly warm and dry but there has been a bit of mud and snow, especially in the late spring.

Design ★★★☆☆

Appearance (15%) ★★★½☆

Construction (30%) ★★★☆☆

Lacing (20%) ★★★☆☆

Sustainability (10%) ☆☆☆☆☆

Weight (25%) ★★★★½

The New Balance Minimus HI-REZ is an interesting shoe. Looking at it from the side you can tell it is a minimalist shoe, but you cannot understand how different it is until you look at the sole. The outsole is made with 42 independent pods giving it a very different look. To go with the different design the shoes also have a bright color scheme, so they get noticed.

Upper Up Close - Click to See Larger

Upper Up Close – Click to See Larger

The upper is a synthetic mesh with a web overlay that provides support without effecting flexibility. The two thin materials are combined in a no-sew process, which prevents seams and potential discomfort. New Balance calls this their FantomFit. The tongue opens only on one side keeping with the trend of fewer seams and more comfort. It wraps over the foot and therefore, stays in place much better. The lacing system on the shoes is fairly standard with four eyelets. I will say that the shoe does sit low around the ankle and heel keeping with the minimalist style. Since the shoe is so flexible there is no worry of your foot popping out.

The sole is designed on New Balance’s NL-0 last and has 42 independent pods as mentioned above. These pods are made of direct injected EVA foam that both cushion and make up some of the outsole. A couple of the high wear spots have a blown rubber covering to increase their wear and durability. The shoes are made on a Strobel last which means the uppers are sewn directly into the outsole in this case. The shoes do not have a true midsole thus allowing more ground feel. On the outside, this connection has a band covering it all the way around which I am sure both strengthens the connection and protects it as well. As with all New Balance Shoes I have tested thus far, the construction has been really solid and once again, I had no issues with these as well.

Outsole - Click to See Larger

Outsole – Click to See Larger

Unfortunately, the shoes are not made of any sustainable materials to my knowledge. I guess the one good thing about them is they do not use much in the way of materials when compared to a typical running shoe. These are some of the lightest shoes I have tested.

Fit ★★★★☆

Comfort (25%) ★★★★☆

Foot Length (15%) ★★★★☆

Foot Volume (15%) ★★★½☆

Heel Width (15%) ★★★½☆

Midfoot Width (15%) ★★★½☆

Toe Box Width (15%) ★★★★☆

There is not much structure to the HI-REZ Shoes. The upper mesh is very pliable, even with the support web. Pair that with the sole and you have a shoe that can really wrap your foot. It nearly fits like a sock. The shoes are made to be worn either with or without a sock. I personally tried them both ways and liked wearing a sock best. This is nothing against these shoes, just my personal preference with all my footwear. When I did go sockless I did not have any comfort issues, the inside is void of any rough seams, which could cause irritation. The mesh upper also does a good job of both being breathable and moving moisture off your skin. Thus keeping your feet dry and less prone to blisters. Of course, this comes with a negative that I will mention below. One thing worth mentioning that I really liked is the tongue. It only opens on one side which I think is a huge plus. Not only does it eliminate possible rubbing points, but it also makes it so the tongue does not move. I have plenty of shoes where the tongue likes to go on its own adventure while I run. Fortunately, these are not one of those shoes.

Tongue Opens on One Side - Click to See Larger

Tongue Opens on One Side – Click to See Larger

I am typically a size 9 in most of my shoes so that is what I tested on these. The shoes seemed to be true to fit as I had just a smidgen of room beyond my toes, which is just how I like them. The toe box did not feel super roomy; it was just wider than my toes, so I could splay them a little bit. I do think some of New Balance’s other models are a little wider in this area. Through the midfoot and heel, the shoes fit very snug to my foot. I think this can vary depending on how tight you tie the shoes. Since the whole shoe is very pliable, they can really wrap your fit. I did find that it is possible to tie the shoes too tight and when I did it would not take long for me to have to stop and loosen them a bit. I have a standard volume foot, and I felt like these fit my foot well. I do think that they may be a bit tight if you have a high-volume foot. I would suggest trying them on first if that is the case.

Performance ★★★½☆

Breathability (15%) ★★★★☆

Durability (20%) ★★★☆☆

Flexibility (15%) ★★★★★

Ground Feel (25%) ★★★★½

Traction (15%) ★★★☆☆

Water Resistance (10%) ★☆☆☆☆

With such a thin upper material, the Minimus HI-REZ breathes very well. You literally can feel the air pass through the upper, especially when not wearing socks. Of course with this you also have a shoe with very little water resistance. If air can pass through so easily, then so can water. The shoes, however, do not hold much water so even if they are wet, they still are very lightweight. In fact, these are the lightest pair of true shoes that I own. They weigh in at an impressive 3.8 oz per shoe.

Semless Inside - Click to See Larger

Semless Inside – Click to See Larger

What really sets apart the shoes has to be the sole. It is made up of 42 independent pods that can move independently of each other. This allows your foot to flex and move with all the different surfaces that you run on. It is pretty cool how flexible these shoes are. What I think is even more impressive is how much they still cushion your foot. The stack on both the toe and heel of the HI-REZ is 8mm making these a zero drop shoe. This gives these less stack then the original Minimus Trail Shoes I reviewed long ago from New Balance. Unlike those shoes, the HI-REZ never had any of those “ouch” moments where a rock would poke through the sole at the wrong place. You would think with all the gaps between the pods that this would happen, but it never did with me, and I took them on plenty of gravel trails. On another note, the shoes surprisingly did not have any trouble with picking up rocks in the sole.

Of course with superb flexibility and a sole with 42 pods you would expect great ground feel. I felt like the HI-REZ does a good job of both giving you ground feel but not too much. I think of the original Vibram Five Fingers when I think of the ultimate in ground feel. You could feel hairline cracks in the cement in those. These are not that much which I think makes it a bit easier for most minimalists to use daily. One downside to having all the pods is I do notice that water can penetrate the sole between the pods. I had several runs that had to pass over a bit of a wet surface and water would wet the bottom of my feet, much like you would expect if you ran across those same surfaces in a pair of socks.

For such a light pair of shoes, durability seems to be pretty good. The pods are made of EVA foam with some coated in rubber for increased wear resistance. I have noticed a bit of wear thus far but still expect to get 300-400 miles out of them. Of course, this will depend on the person as a more efficient running style will get more life out of these.

Some Wear - Click to See Larger

Some Wear – Click to See Larger

Overall ★★★★☆

Overall, I must say that the New Balance Minimus HI-REZ is a pretty cool shoe. I like to use minimalist shoes on some of my runs to work on form, and more and more I have tended to grab these off my shelf. Believe me, I have a lot to choose from so this is telling. The shoes really hug your foot and can move with every surface while still adding some protection. Another thing that is great about these is how they can pack up small to be stuffed in a backpack. While I have not tested them as such, I think they would be a great option as a camp shoe on some of my backpacking trips. They have very little weight penalty and pack up small. This is something I may try. Of course, all this innovation does come at a price so the HI-REZ is a bit on the expensive side at $120 retail. If you are looking for a zero drop shoe that has excellent ground feel and a little protection, I would suggest giving these a look. If anything they will turn some heads, as always Your Mileage May Vary.

Pros [field name=iFrame]

  • Very lightweight
  • Good amount of protection even with all the separate pods
  • Comfortable upper
  • Ground Feel
  • Breathes well

Cons

  • Water can come in from below
  • A bit expensive, especially if you go by $ per gram

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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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