New Balance MT10 Minimus Trail Shoe Review

I have found the right shoe that I am happy with to take for long distance runs on smoother trails and forest (Adam Altra)”. However, to tackle the roughest of the roughest (read rock, and sharp pointy large gravel) I must have something that protects the feet just that bit more. There are people who say that any surface can be tackled with minimalist shoes, or even barefoot, and they might be correct, but after 50km of roughing it on a trail, your feet are starting to transmit a different story to the brain. At least in my case.

Having tried many shoes I have been disappointed as many times so far. Continuing the search with long Google sessions I stumbled on reviews about the new balance MT10 which did sound promising. So I decided to once more buy a pair of trail shoes, and give them a try. I selected the MT10 because of the apparent large toe box, and an almost zero drop from heel to toe (4mm). Also the shoes are very light, but at the same time have a proper rock block protection in the sole. On paper everything I am looking for.

They are for sale in the US for around the 80 dollar mark, and they arrived within a week of ordering. Out of the box and on my feet. Oh,oh. Immediately something bothered me. Having run in minimalist shoes for over three years now has given me strong feet, but I think they have also grown in size (like wide). I mean, they are more chunky, like muscled if that make sence? Anyway, the moment I put on the shoes I feel this discomfort across the foot from little to large toe. On the place where this black rubber band is stitched across the MT10, there is pressure on my foot. With my bunion, not at all an acceptable experience.

I plucked around this rubber band a bit, and notice that it is stitched on the shoe at only one side. For what reason are these things there in the first place? Why smother your foot with this rubber band? If am going to accept these shoes, these bands had to go. So I took out a knife and first cut the band on the place where my large toe is. That relieved the pressure immediately. With the shoes back on my feet, I saw the upper stretching out for about a centimeter or so, showing how tight these shoes really are.

I also felt that the pinky toe was under pressure, so again the knife came out, and another cut through the band. And finally I could wear these shoes without an immediate feeling of pain. In fact they were starting to feel rather acceptable. Better even than my current racing flats. I did this operation on both shoes and took them out for a bit a run. This was a 15 km trail run with a nice 600 meter climb.

Straight from the start the shoes felt rather comfortable. A snug feeling (guess why?), but also I immediately felt the 4 millimeter or so of the raised heel. I thought that small a rise was not going to be noticed, but oh boy, notice I did! Once you are used to running with your feet on the ground (so to speak) any angles in the shoes are experienced as odd, and throw you of ‘pose’. It is a complete mystery to me why new balance created a trail minimalist shoe and makes the strange decisions of 1. a raised heel and 2. tight rubber band across the foot? Room for improvement.

I am seriously thinking about getting the sand belt to the heels and cut a good 4 millimeter or so from the bottom heel area. If you run correctly, you don’t land on the heel, and so removing this part of the shoe should have no effect on its performance and durability. In fact it will make for a lighter shoe, and most likely the closest thing to a trail shoe for minimalist runners.

I Will let you know when I have made the adjustments to the heel. For the moment, I would only recommend the shoes for trail runners with narrow feet. Don’t believe the description of the very roomy toe box too much. Yes, it is a bit rounder than normal, but the shoe is created with a ‘size zero’ model in mind. Not the foot of a long distance runner!! If you are happy to make the modifications I made however, you might end up with some very light weight trail running shoes.

Update – 1st October 2011 Completed a couple more run on the MT10′s, and after some more surgery as shown in the image below, the shoes are know getting ready to party. Today was a very wet day, and I have taken them out for a 10 kilometer dirt trail in the hills. The shoes have fantastic grip in the mud. Better than any of the Five Fingers I own. When running up or down hill, I am not too bothered about the raised heel, but once getting to the tarmac again you realy notice. I also discovered that running without socks still presses together the toes too much, leading to hot spots on the inside of the pinky toes. I will run next time with the Injinji socks, which should resolve any of those problems for the long distance. Now I have to wait for an Ultra over the rough stuff to really give them a workout. Will keep you posted.

Some good news from New Balance: “Our NB Minimus line offers an invigorating, award-winning, closer-to-barefoot experience with a dramatically lower heel-to-midfoot drop than traditional running shoes. In March 2012, at running stores across the country, we will extend the much talked-about NB Minimus line with the arrival of NB Minimus Zero – new road, trail and wellness shoes that continue to deliver that minimal, light and right experience, but with a 0mm heel-to-midfoot drop. This is a feature that many of the most vocal members of the community, many of them experienced natural runners, have asked about”

Happy running.
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  • avatarVisit site
    February 27, 2012 4:35 pmPosted 6 years ago

    Hi there, awesome review. I just received my MT10s, I bought them on the regular size I used 10.5US, but apparently since running ony in the VFFs in the last 2 months my feet grew, and the 10.5 dont fit me anymore, trying them sitting, I have half a thumb space between fingers and front, but standing my toes hit the front (all of them).

    Now Is clear I need a bigger size but how big? half a size 11, or a full size 11.5? I am a bit worried to buy them too big. I have to order them online, there is no way of trying them 600KM around my place. I am planning on running up to 20km in them so I am considering there will be some swelling involved.

    I´ve read quite mixed opinions about the half size, and full size bigger shoes.

    Im about to order them (normally id order both sizes so as not to have any problem but at this very moment I cant afford it) =/

    What do you think!?

    Thanks in advance,

    • February 27, 2012 6:25 pmPosted 6 years ago
      DandyRunner (Author)

      Hi Cesar,

      Interesting. Here is the deal. My vibrams (Trek) are size 47 (the largest one can get). The are slightly on the short side and would buy 48 if they made them. All my other shoes (NB and Adams) are in US size 13. I must say the length of the MT10 is quite Okay, maybe even slightly large. They are however wayyyyy to narrow. If you have run five fingers, that will likely be your problem too. I would suggest a half size larger for length.
      (Hope that helps?)

      • avatarVisit site
        February 28, 2012 8:06 amPosted 6 years ago

        Thanks “Dandy”,

        I already ordered the 11, (half size up), I was bit afraid the 11.5 would be extremely big. Lets see how it gets when I get them in about 2 to 3 weeks, I am able to pick them up in USA.

        I´ll try to post once I have some days in them!

  • avatarVisit site
    October 2, 2011 12:56 amPosted 6 years ago

    Hi Erwin,

    I just came across your blog looking for reviews of the Altra Adam. As a bonus I found that you’ve also reviewed the MT10, which is great because I just returned a pair due to the pressure that the rubber band puts on the toes, you know all about it. Anyway, perhaps you could guide me here. I’m a marathon runner but I’ve been running barefoot for the last 4 months, the transition has been slow but now I can comfortably run between 10 and 15 km, 3 or 4 times a week. It’s getting cold here in Ottawa (Canada) so I need a pair of shoes. I gave the MT10 a try on the treadmill and hated the way they alter my gait, maybe the heel drop, the rubber band or the curved last or a combination of all of the above. So I’m thinking that perhaps the Adam would be a better shoe, but I’m not sure about the size. The MT10 were 11.5, should I order the Adam in 11 or would you say that the size is the same on both shoes? The Altra site says that they should be ordered a half-size smaller. Also, since the forefoot in the Adam is so wide, I’m fearful of the shoe feeling sloppy, do you think that they hold your feet snugly in spite of the super wide forefoot? Before I forget I should mention that I gave the Altra Instinct a try a while ago but I found them too stiff, maybe because of the thick sole; the shape of the shoe was great, but I have no idea how they compare to the Adam.

    Your input will be greatly appreciated!


    • October 2, 2011 10:26 amPosted 6 years ago
      DandyRunner (Author)

      Hi Gabe,

      I have size 13 for both the MT10 as well as for the Altra Adam. I believe what the Altra site sais about half a size smaller is correct. The Adams are very spacious on my feet, but I also have to tell you that me left foot is a good 1 1/2 size bigger as my right. For me it is heaven to have a shoe on my left foot that fits.

      You read in some reviews that the shoes feel sloppy, but that is only the case when you walk in them. Once you are running, that feeling disappears completely. They are running shoes! The sloppiness is not that your foot is moving or sliding in the shoe (they are very snug), it is more because the front is a bit larger than normal (like walking with flippers on the beach). And it is not that extreme. I believe you will like them a lot.

      I am pretty much running solely on the Adams these days, and when I look at the times I run on my usual training routes, I am putting in best times on all of them. Next week is the Melbourne marathon. I let you know how the Adams perform.
      Happy running!

      • avatarVisit site
        October 3, 2011 2:08 amPosted 6 years ago

        Thank you very much! You’ve helped me make up my mind now. Looking forward to your Melbourne marathon report, good luck!



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