New Balance MT110 Trail Running Shoe Review by Nate Sanel

Nate Sanel is a fellow NH runner, and quite possibly a bigger shoe geek than I am. He also has quite the running resume – over the past few months he’s completed three 100 mile races, with more to come. So far, his list of finishes this summer includes Western States, the VT 100, and Leadville. Still to come are the Bear 100 in Utah/Idaho, and the Run Across New Hampshire. I’m hoping to join him for at least a portion of the latter, but have nowhere near the endurance needed to run 100+ miles right now – maybe someday!

Earlier this evening Nate sent me an email indicating that he has put up a review of the forthcoming New Balance MT110 (set to be released in January 2012), and offered to let me repost it here on Runblogger. I’m a big fan of the NB MT101, and am very much looking forward to giving the 110 a try. Below is Nate’s review, and you can find the original MT110 review over on Nate’s blog, Biker Nate.


New Balance MT110 Review by Nate Sanel

This winter New Balance posted on Facebook that they were looking for Ultra runners to participate in a focus group. I emailed back with my running resume and was invited to participate in the group. A few weeks later I gathered up 4 pairs of running shoes, including one pair of NB’s that I modified to drop the heel (see photo to right) and headed to Boston for an evening meeting.  

I didn’t know what to expect, but was greeted by a team of NB designers, marketers and executives to discuss what hardcore Ultrarunners wanted from their shoes. I felt like a dork bringing 4 different shoes, but was pleasantly surprised to see that every other runner brought a minimum of 2 pairs. Most brought at least 4 like I did.

The folks from NB asked us a ton of questions about what type of running we did, what type of races we did, what types of shoes we wore for what type of races and why. They asked us about our needs and wants and were genuinely interested in what we had to say. The Minimus line was just about to be released and many of us wanted desperately to get a pair of the shoes that were unavailable.

I was seated next to Bryan Gothie who is an Outdoor Product manager. When it was my turn to describe my ultimate shoe I said that I wanted a shoe that was flexible, lightweight, drained well, less than 4mm heel drop and had enough protection to run 100 miles. Bryan smiled and said, “Wait until you see what we are building for Anton, I think your going to like it”. 

It turns out that they were talking about the NB MT110, the next generation of the MT101. Recently Bryan sent me a pair of the early production MT110s. I am blown away by what they have produced. As much as I enjoy my beloved Altra Instincts, these might be the best shoes I’ve ever worn. 

New Sole with better traction than MT101

I received them the week before Leadville and ran every daily run in them. The longest run I did in them before the race was only 7 miles but I decided to start Leadville in them and then simply change out of them when they became too “thin” or if I had problems.

Here is the short story…  I ran the first 70 miles of Leadville in them. I had zero blisters. That’s right, zero. Long time readers of my blog will know that my biggest problem with running 100 mile races is that I suffer terrible blisters. I have always said that if I could just find a way to avoid getting blisters I would enjoy these races soooo much more.

Minimal Upper, real cushioning and protection!

The best description I can give for these shoes is that they simply disappear on my feet when running. I feel like I’m running barefoot, but don’t have any of the issues I normally have with “barefoot” running shoes. I love the way the NB minimus feels on my feet, but the Vibram sole is simply to firm for me to run longer than 15 miles. I get numbness in my toes and wish I had more protection when running rocky trails. I know some barefoot guys get all uppity about “feel” with their barefoot shoes, but frankly I think that rocks hurt. Call me a sissy, I don’t care.  I never had to pussy foot over rocks with these shoes. I have been searching for a perfect balance of barefoot feel and all day protection. The MT110s have it.

Here are some of the technical specs for the shoes.

Weight – Men’s size 9 – 7.7 oz
Stack Height – 19mm Heel/15mm toe
Heel-forefoot drop – 4mm (duh…)
Rockplate – full (I found the rockplate to be more flexible than that MT101, but still very adequate)
Removable Footbed – no
Traction – 1 million times better than the MT101.
Heelcup – perfect.  Long gone is the semi rigid foam Achilles cutter.
Last – same as the Minimus
Toe box – room to fully splay
Availability – January 2012
Multiple widths – yes!

Nice soft heel cup that disappears when on your foot.

My only complaint with the shoe was that a fair amount of grit and dirt got into the shoe. It would be awesome if it had a lasted tongue to keep the grit out. I found the shoes a tad bit thin for the full 100 mile distance, but that might also be my feet not being used to them. I would never even consider wearing a traditional barefoot shoe like the Merrell or Five Fingers for a 100, so don’t think I’m one of “those guys”.

I would call my first long distance (70 miles) run in these shoes to be nothing less than a miracle.  No blisters, perfect comfort, enough protection to go flying down the rocky backside of Hope MT at full pace, and incredible fit.  I saw a ton of people wearing MT101′s at Leadville. I felt bad for them. These shoes are so much better. 

No shoe is perfect, these are pretty damn close.

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

Comments

  1. Would you say that these shoes are more flexible than the Altra Instincts? I like the shape of the Altras but I still find them a bit stiff for my liking.

    Thanks!

  2. Jamie P Tierney says:

    I want a pair!!  I think these will be great for me.  Pete, did you see the 2012 NB minimus yet?? Very nice.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Not in person, but I’ve seen pictures of the zero drop minimus. I just went for my first run in the MT110′s yesterday – very good first impression.

  3. I truly love the NB 101′s so these might be just pure heaven for me. My only complaints with 101′s are the too soft heel cup which is really meant for rough trails (I like shoes underneath my feet not next to them when running) and design problem with euro sole. 110′s seem to have the 101′s euro sole but it seems every diamond shaped stud Is single piece of rubber and not like it was with euro 101′s which have some studs made with two pieces of rubber vulcanised together (black on top and grey in the bottom). Idiotic design decision if you ask me since you can easily get those parts separated and due to this the shoe can wear down quickly. However, the euro sole has awesome grip so the new and improved should be excellent.

  4. I think they should be compared to the Altra Lone Peak, when it comes out, and not to the Instinct.

    • Pete Larson says:

      He’s comparing it to the Instinct because that is what he has used in his other recent Ultras. I agree, but the Lone Peak as yet does not exist on store shelves. Better existing comparison would be something like the Saucony Peregrine.

  5. what’s up with the 4mm heel-drop? just zero your shoes out already.

    • Nate Sanel says:

      Corey,
      I am a fan of zero drop shoes as well.  These things really don’t feel like they have an elevated heel.   I stay with a low heel to keep my Anterior Tibialis Tendonitis from flaring up.  These shoes don’t bother it at all.
      Nate

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  7. Robert Osfield says:

    Looks like a very encouraging refinement of the NB101.  My issues with the 101 were it’s narrow toe box, the big heel drop, way too excessive toe spring, lack of lateral stability at the heel and crappy grip, especially in the wet.  Sounds like they may well have fixed all of these ;-)

    What the 101′s did have going for them was they were cheap and light.  Any news on the weight and cost of the 110′s?

    Looks like next spring when I’m looking for a new trail shoe it’ll be a toss up between the 110′s and whatever trail shoes that Inov8 will be able to brew up with an anatomical last and low heel drop.

    • Nate Sanel says:

      Robert, I have a few pairs of Inov8′s.  The toebox on the MT110 gives a LOT more room to splay.  From what Bryon on Irunfar posted the price is supposed to be $89.  That seems pretty reasonable to me.

      • Pete Larson says:

        Nate – do you have any of the Inov-8 Road-X shoes? They are on a different last than some of the other Inov-8s – much roomier from what I hear. I’d say they are comparable to the MT101, maybe just a tad less space.

      • Robert Osfield says:

        Thanks for the extra details Nate.  Which Inov8′s do you have? 

        I have Roclite 295′s which is based on Invo8′s Endurance Last which has plenty room in the toe box, more room than my 101′s which cramp by big toe.  I also have the Invov-8 Road-X which have more horizontal width than the 295′s, and the region around the big toe is straighter it accommodates the big toe very well.  

    • Pete Larson says:

      Not sure on the price. Have you considered the Vivobarefoot Neo Trail? Have not run in them yet, but seem promising, though probably not the best for really rough trails.

      • Robert Osfield says:

        I hadn’t considered the Vivobarefoot Neo Trail so thanks for mentioning it.  I’ve looked it up and it’s available now which is good, and looks likely to accommodate my wide feet too. 

        I don’t think it’ll be up to handling the more aggressive off trail running such as fell races that I do occasionally, but then I kinda doubt the MT110 will be up to this either.   Still my trusty go anywhere Roclite’s aren’t worn out yet so I can always fallback on these until Inov-8 come up with a all-round trail shoe with an anatomical last.

  8. I was looking fwd to this shoe…but i find the midfoot on this shoe too narrow. After 30min of wearing them around the house my foot cramps. Does anyone else have this problem with this shoe? 

  9. Christopher Harris says:

    Jan 2012 can’t come soon enough! I’m really looking forward to these shoes!

  10. Hello! I wanted to ask a question about those shoes. I was wearing NB MT101 and they were great (11.5 US). Now I want buy those one. The problem is that I’m from Poland and if I got a wrong size, than, you know, there’s gonna be a problem. Runningwarehouse shows me that the best fit for me is still 11.5 but there is not so much room on the heel part. I’m wondering if this isn’t going to be too tight on my feet. What do you fink?
    P.S. Sorry for my English ;p

    • Pete Larson says:

      Be aware that the 110 is a different feel that the 101, I’m not happy with it. But, I would wear the same size.

  11. Nate, how is the size.  i have found that the NB shoes are all over the place with fit.  my new sky’s fit perfect at 10.5 D but the Minimus LIfe and Trail 10 are too tight at 10.5 as are my MT 101.  what is your judgement as i am going to backorder a pair.  thanks, ken   

  12. Here you list the height as 19/15mm, but at the Running Warehouse they say 11/7mm. Or are they talking about the sole only not the sole upper combined?
    Cheers
    Andrew

    • Pete Larson says:

      RW lists stack height as 18/14mm.

      • Thanks for that. I’m relatively unfamiliar with the terminology. So “stack height” is midsole + sole?
        Just wish we could some of these shoes in New Zealand. Apparently no plans to release the 110 :(  We do have the MT00 and MT10, but would love a lightweight trail with a rockplate etc…
        Andrew
        P.S. Love the site.

        • Pete Larson says:

          I believe stack height is midsole + outsole, and thus adding the sockliner would give the measurements that were reported in the post.

  13. Pete -

    Any response on the lateral to medial slant you noticed in your test pair. I just received the 110′s and mine have the same “issue”. I really want to love these shoes like I have my 101′s but it isn’t working out.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Nope, nothing yet. Still don’t know if it’s designed to be that way or not.

      • Mareksnidek says:

        Well, there is a slant in my pair unfortunately. It’s more pronounced in right shoe. Makes me think about getting Merrell Mix Master.

        • Mike Whitenton says:

          Tony Krupricka mentioned this in his latest interview on UltraRunner Podcast. He said that the tread was built up a bit on the lateral forefoot in order to compensate of the added wear there owing to his (and Eric Skaggs’) foot strikes. At least that’s how I remember it. You should check out the interview. Just got my pair yesterday and am taking them out on a nice long run today. Can’t wait!

          • Pete Larson says:

            Intentional buildup on the lateral side of a shoe concerns me… potential to encourage excessively rapid pronation.

          • Steve Seiberling says:

            The irunfar blog has an extensive posting on the making of the MT110, including interviews with Anton Krupicka and Erik Skaggs about their input. In response to a question I posed on the apparent build up in the lateral sole of the shoe, Bryon Powell wrote:

            The article addresses this point.

            Anton noted, “We ended up beefing up the lateral outsole lugs because
            that’s where I really destroy shoes with kind of a midfoot/forefoot
            strike.”

            Erik noted, “They raised the lug height on the lateral side of the
            forefoot. We brought that down a touch on the outside lateral edge
            because it was built up a little more than the ones I have now. I think
            that felt weird when I was running and now it lays down better.”

            Thanks greatly for all the really useful content on this site, Pete.

          • Pete Larson says:

            Yeah, it’s still to much to me. Those lateral lugs are exactly what I can feel under the outside of my foot when standing in the shoe – almost feels like a reverse medial post that increases pronation.

          • Robert Osfield says:

            I wonder if it might be compression of the EVA midsole why it’s built up on the lateral side – i.e. they’ve built in accommodation for how the shoe deforms with use.

            I have noticed several of my shoes end up with the EVA midsole compressed under my forefoot as I’ve piled on the miles.  The compression creates a depression, which in terms changes the load on the front on my metatarsal heads resulting in tenderness.  I’ve got more miles out of my shoes by filling in this depression.

            Mid-term to long term I’d like to migrate away from using any shoes with an EVA midsole, I’m just sick of the EVA wearing out quicker than the upper or the sole. My Neo Trails certainly fit the bill as there’s no mid-sole, but I’m still slowly building foot strength to handle really long runs so my Roclite’s with EVA midsole still gets some mileage.

        • Pete Larson says:

          Been hearing this from a few others in the past few days.

  14. Thomas@Beliveintherun.com says:

    Great review. I love my MT101s so I am excited to try the MT110s. If they are as good as you make them sound they could be my HAT 50k shoe.

  15. Danny Smith says:

    Just finished a 16 mile run in my NB 101′s and went to the local NB store. They had the 110′s in size 13, with a military discount they were 80 bucks. Can’t wait to run in them tomorrow. What a way to start the New Year. :)

  16. Nate Sanel says:

    Hi Hp9000,
    Yes, they are way more flexible than the Instincts.  I like the Instincts, I ran both Western States and Vermont in them.  The only thing I find to stiff on them is the heel (upper, not sole).  They MT110′s are very flexible.  They also have less cushioning than the Instincts, but they still work well for trails.  Yesterday I ran a rocky road that had lots of little stones and I did notice them more than I would in the Altras, but not enough to bruise my feet. 
    Nate

  17. Jamie P Tierney says:

    These look great, To bad they come out in January. That does me no good in Northern Maine when I am either running treadmill miles or running in last years beater trail shoes with ice spikes screwed in…

    Pete have you seen the 2012 NB Minimus?? Very nice, I’ll be snatching up a pair when they come out.

  18. Michael Yadrick says:

    I have about 100 miles on the MT110s. The tread on the blue EVA has just about disintegrated. I am torn about returning them because I like them overall. It is the only disappointent with these.

    • LisaHensley says:

      Michael,
      Where do you buy your shoes that lets you return them if you’re not happy AFTER you’ve already worn them?  I’d like to buy these or the Go Run for my hubby and would like him to try them both and then decide but I’d like it to be a surprise.  Thank you for your help : )

  19. Sigurthor Einar says:

    I have the Minimus road. can I order this one in the same size?

  20. Ran pergamin says:

    Great review Nate. Looking forward to the shoes.
    On Pete’s advise I bought the 101 last month as a transition light wait shoe toward more minimalistic & light weight running.

    It servese me well, so am happy about the 4mm drop of the 110.

    The only tng that I already noticed & hope the 110 will be better, is that here in Israel, the off roads/trails are gravel & full of loose stones.
    This creates a challenge for most soles & higher abuse. I already see, 3 weeks into the shoes & about 70miles that the abuse is starting to show.

    I also noted their grip ain’t that great (101) for this kind of trails, maybe they r more suited for tight trails like in some areas in e us & Europe.

    I saw the 110 will have different sole structure & hope that will be more grippy with better life time,
    The new solve

  21. Anyone sand or grind down the lateral riased lugs yet? I’m going to do mine and let you know how it turns out. NB screwed up on this one.

    • I have taken a total of 10 lugs off of the lateral side of my left 110, and about 6 off the right shoe. About 60 miles into these and I like them a lot, but the initial break in period left me very frustrated indeed. I just wish the freaking soles of these were flat right out of the box, and that I hadn’t needed to do so much surgery on them. I do agree, NB did kinda screw the pooch on the design of the platform on these. 

    • Pete Larson says:

      I’m planning on trying, haven’t gotten to it yet. Definitely let us know how it goes.

    • Bwinterhalder says:

      I gave up on my MT110′s and returned them. Hopefully the next version will be flat!!! 

  22. Guy Pauley says:

    Just got a pair of these in the mail, have not run in them but wondering a bit about fit. I tried them on with a pair of my old socks I normally wear trail running and they felt a tiny bit snug. Put them on with no socks at all and they still felt snug but other than that felt so good I am wondering if they were designed to wear without socks? The difference was so huge…

    • Pete Larson says:

      The design is such that sockless is certainly an option. As long as they don’t cause blisters socks are unnecessary – I go without socks whenever possible.

      —-
      Pete Larson’s Web Links:
      My book: Tread Lightly – link to ow.ly
      Work: link to anselm.edu
      Blog: http://www.runblogger.com
      Dailymile Profile: link to dailymile.com
      Twitter: link to twitter.com

      • Guy Pauley says:

        Another quick question. Wore them for the first time today, felt great… except the back of my right heel developed a monster blister after 4 miles. I really don’t want to go up in size and wear the socks I wear with my road shoes, I think it would lessen the feel quite a bit and sort of defeat the purpose. Any advice? Or any very thin running socks you know of that you would recommend? Thanks…

        • Pete Larson says:

          Socks are the only solution that works for me in that situation – my favorites are Wrightsocks and cheap C9 socks from Target.
          Sent from my iPad

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