An entirely different approach to trail running, the Minimus Zero Trail (MT00) takes the proven versatile durability of a Vibram outsole and combines it with a fitted, minimalist upper that’s comfortable with or without socks.
- Welded seams
- NL-0 last
- Acteva midsole cushioning
- Open mesh upper
- Strobel last
- Vibram outsole
- Measured size 9
- Weight – 125 g (4.4 oz)
- Stack Height – 12 mm (Heel), 12 mm (Toe), zero drop
- Forefoot width – 102.6 (4.0 in)
- Retail – $110
New Balance is one of the larger shoe manufacturers in the industry. I now have tested several shoes for the site and have been excited to see what New Balance has been up to. They were one of the first brands to embrace minimalist running and helped legitimize it in the eyes of the mainstream running. Now they make shoes that vary from traditional to very minimal with everything in between. I want to thank New Balance for working with me to review the MT00 Shoes.
I tested the shoes, mainly on the trail but included some road running. I have put about 60 miles on them thus far and 30% were on roads and 70% on trails. The trails I ran were on the tamer side. I also tested them both with and without socks. My runs varied from 3 – 10 miles, with most being on the shorter side.
The New Balance Minimus Zero Trail (MT00) Shoes are the most minimalist trail running shoes that they have made yet. Previously for the site I reviewed the MT10’swhich was the first foray into minimalist by New Balance. These shoes had a 4 mm drop while the MT00 has zero drop, a true neutral platform. The Minimus Zero Trail has 12 mm in both the toe and the heel for a true zero drop sole. It compared to the MT10’s which was 11 mm in the toe and 15 mm in the heel. The MT00 is a minimum feature trail shoe with a semi-curved shape. It has been made to have an excellent ground feel while providing just enough protection for your feet.
To do this New Balance has made the Minimus Zero Trail with full-length Acteva midsole foam. Acteva is proprietary foam that cushions the foot and resists compression. Acteva is also 12 percent lighter than regular EVA, which lends itself to the low weight of the shoes. The upper on the MT00’s is an open mesh for breathability and a custom fit. It has several synthetic overlays to help give the shoe some support while maintaining the light weight. These overlays also help reinforce certain areas like around the toes for more durability. The interior of the shoe has a mesh fabric lining around the heel area, but the rest of the shoe is the inside of the main upper mesh. The Minimus Zero Trail Shoes have a strobe last in which the upper has been stitched directly to the fabric insole for a comfortable under foot feel. There are no removable insoles in these shoes.
New Balance keeps the similar honeycomb lug pattern on the bottom of these shoes. These lugs are made from two materials, a tough durable compound in the heel and forefoot and just exposed Acteva foam through the midfoot. The idea is to save weight but give durability in the areas that are needed. In between many of these lugs is the exposed fabric underfoot. They have strategically removed some of the foam to keep the weight down and not lose performance. The lacing stem is fairly standard with a wide lightweight lace that hooks into the synthetic overlays to keep the foot stable. The tongue is very thin and does not have a loop to hold it in place, an odd omission that I will discuss more in the fit section. Since the shoes are made to be worn with or without socks, they have been treated on the inside with an anti-microbial treatment to prevent the growth of bacteria and therefore, keep the shoes odor free.
Like many New Balance Shoes, the MT00’s are not made of any sustainable materials to my knowledge. On the other hand, New Balance does have some sustainable initiatives in place. 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 the MT00’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.
Foot Length (15%)
Foot Volume (15%)
Heel Width (15%)
Midfoot Width (15%)
Toe Box Width (15%)
The New Balance Minimus Zero Trails are so minimal you barely can tell you have them on. They only weigh 4.4 oz in the size 9 which I tested. I am normally a size 9, and since these are made with a more anatomical fit, the 9 worked perfect for me. I never felt like the shoes were too big or small. They are made on New Balance’s NL-0 last. This last according to new balance is a running specific last with a standard heel width, wide forefoot, and low toe box height. The fit seemed very similar to the shape of both the MT110 and MT10, both of which I reviewed for the site. When putting the shoes on, they hug the foot well everywhere except in the toe box where there is some room for your toes to splay out. Through the midfoot and heel, the shoes feel great when just putting them on. When running they still felt fairly good but to me, there must have been something amiss in the midfoot area. While I did not notice it with socks on, without socks the midsole would rub against my instep and tore my foot apart. I had one run, in particular, without socks that tore up both of my feet in the same spot, so I think it might have to do with the flexibility of the shoes and there must be some space within the midfoot area where it can move around. If I wear socks than this is not an issue.
My biggest issue with the fit of the shoes is with the tongue. It is very lightweight and thin which I like, but it seems both to be a little on the skinny side and also likes to migrate around when I run. What I mean by the tongue being skinny is that there is barely any overlap of the tongue and upper so that when it moves I can see my socks, and it allows rocks and dust to get in. Now the other issue is the tongue does not have a loop on it to hold it in place so it often likes to move around in the shoe. I have had it slide toward the instep and the outside of the foot and even had it bunch down a little on one run. I think this varies with the type of run, pace, and socks I chose to wear. One thing I can definitely say is that I wish it stayed in place and was slightly wider.
Ground Feel (25%)
What surprised me most about these shoes as compared to the MT10’s is that even though this is much lighter and zero drop they seemed to have more protection for your foot than the MT10’s did. Whenever I ran in the MT10’s, I would feel rocks poke the bottom of my foot periodically, I have not had that happen nearly as much with these. New Balance must have made some subtle tweaks to the outsole to combat this. I also think that the extra 1 mm of cushioning in the fore foot must help as I am a mid to forefoot striker, especially running fast like these make you want to do. Even though there seems to be more protection, I felt like you could still feel the ground well. There are only 12 mm of cushioning so there is only so much the cushioning can hide from your feet, as long as it does not hurt I like to be able to feel the little nuances of the ground. The lugs on the outsole have enough traction for smoother trails like we have here in Central Oregon but if the trails get too technical, I do not think this is the best option. There is just not enough traction or protection for those types of trails. Since I live in the High Desert, I was not able to test these in the mud, I would be curious to see how they did in those conditions. If you are reading this and have some experience with these in the mud, I would love to hear your comments below.
The upper is an open mesh but does not feel like most mesh materials you think of. It has a bit more of a plasticy (is that a word) feel to it. It seems to breathe okay but not as well as a typical mesh does. On the other hand, since it is a tighter weave it does not allow as much dirt through it, which is great in dusty conditions like most of our trails here are like in the summer. There always seems to be a trade off. The upper material also has a bit of a different feel when it bends during the foot strike. At first, it felt a bit different but after time the shoes learned, and it became less pronounced. I do wonder if this also led to a little of the discomfort I felt when running without socks in these shoes. I can say that the Strobel last has a nice feel to it both with and without socks. The shoes feel very well-made and high tech. It is amazing how light they can be for all that goes into them. After about 60 miles you can see a bit of wear on the sole, but they have held up nicely. There are little bumps on the Vibram outsole lugs which are where you can tell that there is some wear, overall the main section of the lugs looks like new. I have also had a little issue with the fabric around the ankle becoming unglued in a small section. I have read some other reviews on the New Balance website and seen others who have had this issue. It is not a big thing but something to pay attention to. I am sure it can be fixed with a little super glue if needed as well.
I have found that the Minimus Zero Trail Shoes are ideally suited for faster running. They are so light weight that they make you want to run fast. This summer during my testing some of the best runs I have had were wearing these shoes, even the run that tore up my feet was at a good pace for me. This does not mean that you can’t run slower in these as I have done that too. I just have had good success using these for tempo runs and speed work as I tend to keep my distance a little shorter due to the minimalistic nature of the shoes. Some people may be able to stretch them out further, but 10 miles was the max distance I liked to run in these.
Overall, I really liked the New Balance Minimus Zero Trail Shoes for shorter and faster runs. They are so light weight that you feel like you can fly in them. With a minimalistic approach and zero drop, you end up running more on your midfoot and toes, which remind me of running faster as well. I have tested the MT10’s which are the transitional shoe before these, and I was surprised that I felt like these actually had more protection from the rocks. It does not mean these have a lot, but I did not get poked by as many. The MT00’s still have excellent ground feel and flexibility, so they maintain the natural foot movement if you are after that. New Balance says that they can be worn with or without socks, but I did not have any luck wearing them sockless. I have had some other shoes beat my feet up a little without socks, but these had to be up there as one of the worst for my feet. I think it was a mix of how it fit me through the midfoot and just the way they flexed when I ran. With socks, they felt great. If you are looking for a minimalist trail running shoe for less technical trails, the New Balance Minimus Zero Trail Shoes are a good option. They retail for $110, which seems like a lot for such a light shoe but there is a lot of technology in there. I think New Balance has done a good job with these but with a couple of tweaks, they could be really great. As always, your mileage may vary.
Pros [field name=iFrame]
- Super lightweight
- Good balance of ground feel and cushioning
- Good fit in the toe box and heel
- Feel very fast
- Did not work for me sockless
- Fabric around ankle coming unglued in a small section
- Tongue does not stay put
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