Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Balance Minimus Trail First Impressions

I am digging these...alot.  Now the big question?  Are all the things I hate about VFF's fixed in the NB minimus trail?

Things I have never liked about my Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek:

1. The individual toes
Ok, I like the idea in theory, but in reality my toes curve in and they vary in length.  I find VFF's make my feet feel like I'm wearing five little toe speculums pushing them all in various directions.  Then there is the issue with sizing.  I find I buy one size and half my toes are smashed into the ends while the other half are flopping around.

2. Seams
When I've gone to look at VFF's, I'll try on multiple pairs in the same size as every pair has slightly different seams and pressure points.  My current pair have a seam in the pinky toe on the left shoe only that drives me nuts even in socks and there is the issue with the hot spot I always get on the inside of both my big toes (feels like a lump in both shoes).

3. Arch & Stability
Ok, I understand the whole point is to have as little support as possible, but I find VFF's feel less stable than my bare feet.  I think this is in part due to the slightly rounded profile of the outsole.  I spend A LOT of time barefoot.  I do all my weight lifting except olympic lifts barefoot and I've done all my various yoga, MMA and crossfit training barefoot.  I spend all my time indoors barefoot, as well.

4. Comfort
I have never felt comfortable in a pair of VFF's.  I've worn them for runs and walks of various distances but they have never felt comfortable to me.  I could never wear them for more than a couple of hours.  A pair in a larger size will feel like they are sliding around causing hot spots and a pair in a smaller size will rub some of my toes raw.

So does the New Balance Minimus Trail resolve any of these issues?

I am happy to report my initial impressions are very favorable.  I can't speak about running until I do some but a few right off the bat impressions.  No individual toes, ok, this is good for someone with curved funky toes like me.  The interior feels smooth and seamless.  I think I can actually wear these sockless without issues (something which I have never successfully done in a pair of VFF's).  They have a pronounced feeling of medial stability and arch support.  I actually really like this feeling in such a light and flexible shoe.  They have a tight rubberize strap that wraps the widest portion of the forefoot and feels very snug upon first putting them on, but this is to prevent sliding forward in the shoe on downhills and seems to have quite a bit of give.  It reminds of the feeling of having my foot taped.  I'm really excited to try these out on the run.  My plan for tomorrow is either track repeats or a short tempo run in them.  I'm also very curious to see what level of under foot protection they offer against rocks and the like.  I know they lack the rock plate of my current favorite shoe, the New Balance MT101.  I expect to have a full review and comparison between the New Balance Minimus, MT101 and Vibram FiveFinger KSO Trek in the next week.  Here's a shot of the trio:

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