The New Balance 110 trail running shoe sets a new precedent in lightweight trail racing, making such a powerful impression that it has been named “Best Minimalist” in the TrailRunner Editor’s Choice awards. Built in close collaboration with leaders in the sport, this minimalistic trail runner is built to deliver the optimal race day experience. A great combination of tried and tested features with new performance attributes will ensure that this highly anticipated update to the 101 delivers a smooth and responsive ride on any trail.
- Acteva full-length midsole foam
- Synthetic Mesh upper
- SURE LACE shoe laces
- Puncture-Resistant Toe
- Sticky Rubber Outsole
- Aggressive Lugged Outsole
- Rock Stop flexible shank
- NL-1 running-specific last
- Standard Heel
- Wide Forefoot
- Low Toe-Box Height
- Measured size 9
- Forefoot Width – 101.8 mm (4.0 in)
- Stack Height – 18 mm (heel), 14 mm (toe), 4 mm (drop)
- Weight – 203 g (7.2 oz)
- Retail – $85
New Balance is one of the big shoe manufacturers. One of the great things about new balance is that they have embraced the minimalist movement and made shoes that cover the full gamut from fully cushioned to nearly barefoot. The MT110 is the third in a line of low profile trail running shoes that have gotten better with each iteration. It tried on some 100s when they were in stores, but they dug into my Achilles, and I opted for some Inov-8’s. When the 101s came out I was happy to see they adjusted the heel section and really liked running in them. I did a review of them here on the site if you want to take a look: http://ymmvreviews.com/footwear/new-balance-mt101-shoes/. The MT110 is the update to the 101s. It was changed in several ways while keeping with the original theme of the line. I was excited to get the opportunity from New Balance to put these to the test.
The MT110 is at heart a trail running shoe. I ran some roads, but I tried to only do that when needed. That being said, of the 65 miles I have run in these shoes thus far, about 10% were on roads, 45% on smooth trails, and 45% on trail. My runs varied from 3 miles to 20 miles in a variety of conditions. I was not able to test them in any true mud as we just don’t get it here in Bend, but I did run on the sandy coast a couple of weeks ago.
The New Balance MT110 Shoes are built with the same idea as its predecessors; a lightweight low-profile trail runner. The MT110 was designed with the help of some of the top ultra runners sponsored by New Balance. They worked on many levels of the design process before coming out with this update. The MT110 has an entirely different last than the 101s did. The shoe has taken some of its design from the new Minimus collection and blended it with the previous version. One of these changes was the last shape, the NL-1 last has a standard heel, low toe height, and wider forefoot much like a barefoot shoe does. The other main change to the shoes is in the heel to toe drop. The MT101’s were close to the ground but had a drop of 10 mm; this was one of the downsides of that shoe in many runners’ eyes. The new MT110’s continue to be low to the ground, but the drop has been reduced to 4 mm. This brings it more in line with the first iteration of the New Balance Minimus’s.
The upper has also been redesigned with a synthetic mesh upper with a fabric mesh inside lining for comfort, breathability, and protection. There is a section over the forefoot that is not perforated to add extra support for your foot. Over the front of the toes is a puncture resistant layer to protect your toes. The lacing uses the standard technique with a mesh tongue that has an eyelet to hold it in place. The SURE LACES used by New Balance have a wave pattern to make them more secure and resist lace loosening. There is no sockliner or insole in these shoes. The upper has been sewn directly to the midsole with minimal seams. The shoes have a full-length Acteva midsole for cushioning. Acteva is lightweight EVA Foam that resists compression. To save a little weight, only the forefoot and the heel have a sticky rubber outsole. Through the midfoot, the Acteva cushioning is exposed to the ground. In the forefoot between the midsole and outsole, there is a Rock Stop protection plate. This plate is flexible while protecting the foot from rocks and other sharp objects. The outsole itself is made up of many multi-thickness lugs for optimum traction. The lugs are also present on the foam section of the sole. New Balance has built up the size of the lugs on the outside of the foot as that section wears a little fast. This is an interesting design decision that I will touch on below.
The inside of the shoes has very few seams for a more comfortable fit. These shoes were designed for running long distances where comfort is of utmost importance. A couple fun things added to the shoes is the words “Keep Up” on the sole for those who are following to see. I think it would take perfect conditions for this impression to be readable on the ground, but it is funny, nonetheless. Inside the shoes, New Balance has dedicated each color model to a different Ultra Running hotbed in the US. This is a tribute to the runners in these locations that helped in the designing of the shoes. The red model I tested was “Tested By the Summits of the Siskiyous.”
The MT110’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 MT110s 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.
Comfort Next to Skin (10%)
Foot Length (15%)
Foot Volume (15%)
Heel Width (20%)
Midfoot Width (20%)
Toe Box Width (20%)
The fit of the MT110s is a dramatic change from the MT101s (the previous model). They have given the MT110s a fit similar to the Minimus line they debuted last year. The fit is similar in the shape of your foot. It has a medium width heel, midfoot, and wide forefoot. I really like the change in fit that New Balance has done to these. They feel snug to my foot but also allow some room for your toes, not quite as much as the Minimus shoes which allow your toes to splay out more. I usually wear a size 9, and that is what I have been testing in these. The length is exactly correct, there is room at the end of the shoe but not too much. According to New Balance, the MT110s have slightly less volume, but I did not notice a difference. They felt like a medium volume; they feel comfortably snug.
The New Balance MT110s have a mesh liner for comfort next to the skin. I have tested these without socks but prefer them with sock on. I did not have any comfort issues from the shoes, without socks, they were very comfortable. The main reason I like to wear socks with these and all other trail shoes, is the dust and dirt likes to get into the shoes, and that can rub over time. With socks this is not as bad.
Cushioning/Ground Feel (20%)
The MT110s have a lot of great things going for it and then one strange design choice. I really liked running in the MT101s, and the 110s are similar in feel. They both have a lower profile, sitting close to the ground. They have some ground feel but not a lot. They are a good combination of cushioning and feel. I ran up to 20 miles in these, and my feet did not feel beat up when I was done. The front half of the shoes have the Rock Stop layer sandwiched between the midsole and outsole. The Rock Stop is flexible and protects the foot from sharp rocks and objects. I did not have any issues with rocks bruising the bottom of my feet like occasionally happens with the Minimus shoes. The MT110s are fairly flexible; the addition of the Rock Stop plate takes some of the flexibility out of the shoes but not stiff.
The MT110s have good traction. All the lugs help across a variety of surfaces and were even good on the road. The lugs in the front and back are made of sticky rubber and have hardly shown any wear over the 70 miles thus far. The center lugs are made of the Acteva foam. These lugs have shown much more wear over the 70 miles. To the point now that I do not think they are adding much in the way of traction. One thing I found that was strange about the design of the shoes was the thicker lugs on the outside of the shoe. New Balance did this as they found that the outsole wears down faster on the outside than the inside. My shoes normally show this wear pattern, as well as I land more on the outside of the foot. The problem is that when you first put these on and just stand there you can tell the outsole is built up on the outside of the foot. It is hard to tell if it is affecting my gait at all when I run. I know some people have ground these down a bit to make the shoes feel more level. I have not done this yet but am thinking about it as really like the shoes otherwise.
The upper breathes fairly well and does a great job keeping the foot secure. I do notice that dust, and dirt can get in especially in the dusty desert of Central Oregon. This is similar to other trail runners I have run in. The Sure Laces worked well. I still double knotted my laces because of habit. The idea with the sure laces is that they will keep the whole upper from adjusting during a run. It seemed to work for me.
Overall, I really liked the updates New Balance made on the MT110s. They are very comfortable and run really well. I really like the low 4 mm drop and low profile. The 110s are a good mix of cushioning and ground feel. I was a big fan of the 101s, and now I am a bigger fan of the 110s. The one thing I think was a really weird design choice was the built up outside of the outsole. I could definitely feel this when standing in the shoes, but it was hard to tell if they run any different. This is the only negative I really have had with these shoes. They are lightweight, comfortable, and good for any off-road surfaces. If you are looking for a lightweight trail runner, I would definitely recommend these shoes. If you are worried about the built up outside, you can do what some others have done and just sand them down. The MT110s retail for $85, this is a good value in my eyes. As always, your mileage may vary.
Pros [field name=iFrame]
- Good Traction
- $85 retail is a good value
- Great mix of cushioning and ground feel
- Extra build up of the outside lugs
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