New Balance Minimus Trail Zero (MT00) Review

New Balance MT00 MinimusWhile in general I’m highly supportive of the trend toward lighter and less supportive shoes, I believe that there are certain situations where it is desirable to have a bit of protection underfoot. I learned this lesson when I ran the HAT Run 50K in 2010 in the New Balance Minimus MT10. I was crossing a stream, slipped on a rock, and while trying to maintain my balance I mashed my forefoot down hard on a pointy rock protruding from the water. Because the MT10 is fairly minimal and has no rock plate, my foot stood no chance against said pointy rock. I finished the race without major issue, but bruised my forefoot badly and the pain lingered for a few weeks.

I’ve come to appreciate the value of some degree of cushioning, or at least a rock plate, when running on trails or crushed rock along the side of the road. It’s for this reason that I was a bit skeptical when I saw that New Balance was releasing an even more stripped down version of the Minimus Trail, the MT00. I’ve now had the MT00 for about 5 months (disclosure: these shoes are review samples provided free of charge by the manufacturer), and have put a decent number of running miles on them, as well as quite a bit casual use.

New Balance MT00 SideNew Balance MT00 Medial

Let me first say that I really like this shoe. Much like it’s close cousin the Minimus Road Zero (MR00), the MT00 has a very roomy fit, it’s incredibly lightweight (4.7 oz in size 10), and it’s super flexible. This is a shoe that can quite literally be rolled up into a ball. The sole is zero drop and only 12 mm thick, the upper is made of a “barely-there” mesh that is highly breathable, and the interior finish has allowed me to run sockless in it with no blistering. It’s a remarkably well made shoe and very unique in its construction.

So what’s not to like? Well, the issue with the MT00 is that due to its ultra-minimal construction, this is not a shoe that is going to provide much protection on trails. In fact, if I run on the crushed rock along the roadside near my house I need to be really conscious of my foot-plant since jagged rocks are most definitely felt through the sole. Given this, I would not recommend the Minimus Trail Zero for any type of rugged trail or crushed rock running surfaces. If it is to be used off-road, the MT00 is best saved for well maintained and cleared trails.

New Balance MT00 Top

New Balance MT00 Sole

I’ve personally wound up using the MT00 mostly as a barefoot-style road shoe, and for this purpose it works phenomenally well. Because I’ve had such a hard time getting a good fit in the Vibram Fivefingers, I’ve grown to much prefer ultraminimal shoes with a standard (wide) toebox. Shoes like the Merrell Road Glove, Altra Samson, Inov-8 Bare-X 180 and the MT00 are my four favorites in this category. Of these, the MT00 and Road Glove have just a bit more cushion than the others.

IMG_3168What I like most about the MT00 is the breathability of the upper. The upper material is probably the thinnest of any shoe I have ever run in – it feels like tissue paper. In fact, it’s so thin that I can see my toes through the top of the toebox – kind of creeps me out a bit (see photo to the left). I have heard of at least one person who has had the upper tear on them, but so far mine is holding up very well. Because I can run sockless in this shoe without issue, the breathable upper will likely make this a great shoe for summer running.

The wildcard with this shoe will be durability. At an MSRP of $110 it does not come cheap, so hopefully it will last. I’ve probably put about 40 or so miles on mine so far, plus quite a few more miles of walking, and the upper and sole still look really good. There is just enough rubber in the right spots on the outsole to reduce wear, and the exposed EVA, though roughed up a bit, is holding up well.

In summary, the New Balance MT00 is a great choice if you are looking for a shoe that is ultralight, has minimal cushion, and has a super roomy forefoot. It can handle light trail work and is perfectly fine on roads, but I would not recommend it for rugged trails or any environment with rocks or debris – just not enough protection. If you want an ultraminimal shoe for more rugged conditions, the Merrell Trail Glove is a better choice as it has a more rugged sole and a rock plate. But, the MT00 works better for me on roads than the Trail Glove, probably due to its less structured sole. There are always tradeoffs I suppose.

If you have a significant number of miles on the MT00 and can speak to longer term durability, please leave a comment below!

The New Balance Minimus MT00 is available for sale at Running Warehouse.

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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. Original Sports says:

    Fab read! thanks for the info.

    We’re Original Sports, racketsports specialists and the New Balance Minimums Trail Shoes are one of our most popular products… we like them too
    We sell them here at http://www.originalsports.co.uk

  2. Alexander says:

    Pete,

    So if I am primarily a road runner would you suggest the MR00 or the MT00? I have had KSO’s, Bikila’s, MT10′s, and trail gloves and used them all for road running with very limited non-technical trail running.  Even though I could wear the non-Vibrams without socks I always opted to do so with. The Bikila has probably been my favorite out of them all but I have a nack for bright coloured closed non-toe shoe.

    • Pete Larson says:

      The MT00 will feel a bit more like a Vibram or Trail Glove than the MR00. Both are good shoes, but the MR00 has more cushion, so depends on your reference I guess.
      Sent from my iPad

  3. I am considering these.  I am a Merrell barefoot enthusiast at the moment.

  4. Maybe the women’s model is completely different from the men’s, because I didn’t find the new NB models to be roomy at all. I have been running in the MT101s for several years now and love them. I was sad when they discontinued them and even sadder when I got a pair of 110s (110, right? I can’t keep all these numbers straight) and discovered they were way too narrow for my foot (not just in the toe box but in the instep area). I found the same thing with the Merrell glove shoes. My fat feet are so sad.

  5. Teamcavetoad says:

    I feel like I need a family tree graphic for all these NB Models! 
    I have been running  (and enjoying!) the MT101′s since the fall, what did they become? MT110′s? MT10? MT00? Help! These shoes are too similarly named!  Did you ever review the 110′s? (if they are the successor). I’m just thinking that replacing my MT101′s will be hard since they’re old and out of stock most likely. 

    • MT101′s follow up is is MT110. MT110 is truly a great trail shoe. I loved the 101′s but 110′s are a great improvement.

  6. In all honesty I don’t see a point in dedicated trail shoes without a rock plate. Without it way too much time and energy is spent on trying to find good landing which then effects the running form. This naturally doesn’t apply to easy non technical trails but those trails don’t require a trail shoes to begin with.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I agree, one wrong step without a rock plate is all it takes to do some damage.
      Sent from my iPad

  7. I have about 70 miles on both Hagio and MT00. The wear on the NBs is almost non-existent compared to Hagio. The upper on MT00 seems to be very much made of a rugged material. The look almost new. The mesh on the upper on the Hagio have issues (this is my second pair, the first pair was returned very quickly). The Mts are used in a more rugged terrain than the Hagios.

  8. Nice review – it makes me glad I went for the MT110s rather than the minimus. I have the zero drop road model in the minimus and the MT110s are exactly the same fit and feel (albeit with a 4mm drop) but they have big enough lugs to stop slippage in the mud and a rock plate for extra-sharp trails. Plus they even work on the road. They look like umpire shoes, but they are superb otherwise.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I want to like the MT110, but too built up under the lateral outsole and they tilt my ankles in. Not sure if it’s a manufacturing defect or part of the design of the shoe.
      Sent from my iPad

      • A simple set of scissors, exacto-knife or grinding tool can fix up the 110s easily. A little shoe surgery which I know from the past you aren’t shy at doing, right? ;)
        Send me a note if you want to see pics of how I did it. There are 4 full flat diamond lugs at the lateral forefoot that get trimmed. After that it performs beautifully.

  9. mit gnivri says:

    I purchased my new balance MT00 in May of this year after forgetting my other sneakers on a business trip. I have several hundred miles on them mainly trails. I definitely agree about the crushed rock but overall find them an excellent durable shoe.

  10. Eric Sullivan says:

    Do you guys thing I could wear these while playing softball? I’m in an amateur adult league. I normally wear cleats for the grip on dirt, but I do most of my running in a pair of inov-8 bare 180X shoes. I just bought the MT00 for trail running, but would also like to try them during the games. Would the grip be pretty good?

  11. Logenaris says:

    Pete

    I love the entire Minimus line and have also noticed the rough goings when doing wilder trail terrains. Do you have any suggestions for a more solid, protective minimalist trail shoe?

  12. lanevocraze says:

    hey the same thing just happened to me, after only 30 miles maybe! Were the NB customer reps able to send you a new pair or something?

  13. Original Sports says:

    Fab read! thanks for the info.

    We’re Original Sports, racketsports specialsits and the New Balance Minimums Trail Shoes are one of our most popular products.. we like them too

  14. I’ve worn Minimuses (Minimi?) for four years. My first pair was the old orange trail version, then I bought a black and yellow trail pair when (after hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of hiking, running, erging, and crossfitting) the orange pair began to come apart. I still have that pair four years later, and they’re my ratty work shoes.

    The black ones have started to wear through, so I recently ordered the new trail version. They arrived yesterday and I was thoroughly stoked on their appearance. The soles even seemed like they’d be more durable than their just-attached-with-glue-to-their-sole predecessors. I took them on a trail run and it was like running barefoot only way more awesome. It was quite possibly the best combination of ground feel and protection possible. I loved it. I put exactly 13 miles and one crossfit workout into them that day. Today I put another 5 miles into them. Imagine my disapointment when, at the end of the run, I looked at my shoe to discover that one of the circular round pieces on the sole had come off. After 18 miles!

    I’m hoping this is a fluke, and I’m hoping I can return them or get a new pair or something. I really dont want to be another dude in innov8s.

  15. Miranda Hughes says:

    Glad to hear this positive review, as I just ordered a pair for myself with a view to using them on the tamer of the trails we have around here. And for the roads I have to run to get to the trailheads.

  16. Michael Yadrick says:

    I still love my MT10s!

  17. Roberto Navarro says:

    I bought a pair of these after a pair of Merrell trailgloves. The upper feels really comfortable but my first run in them really killed my feet. I had some uncomfortable abrasion by the 5th metatarsal and on both achilles’ tendons. The former felt better by the second wear, but it keeps being uncomfortable on the tendons. Even with a sock it takes a while to feel like running in these. Just pulled out the merrells… 

  18. I’ve run some 90 miles in my pair, and though the EVA is getting a bit roughed up they still hold together fine. Threw mine in the washer yesterday as, frankly, they were starting to smell like my FiveFingers, which is not a good thing around the house! The liner, which is glued in place, actually came loose during washing, so it might not be the most recommendable thing to do. Nothing that a little glue won’t fix though.

    Since I couldn’t get hold of the 4E width here in Europe, mine run a bit tight, and I’ve had some ugly blisters as a result. Despite roughing up my feet I really love the shoe, and I have run my fastest 10K ever on the road in them, which vouches for their flexibility on different surfaces. For pure road racing I would however prefer the MR00.

    • Pete Larson says:

      For running fast on the road I’d agree, the MR00 is probably the better choice since it provides a bit more cushion.
      Sent from my iPad

  19. heads up bargain shoppers – I just got a pair of these in ladies at marshalls for $50.

  20. Hi Pete,

    While I prefectly respect your opinion, and it is obviously a matter of personal taste,I think maybe the bottom line should be slightly different.

    The MT00 is a real minimalist off-road shoe.As such it offers minimal protection.
    Deciding what trail to tackle is obviously a matter of personal preference & fit of the runner. It is not that the shoe is not capable of rough terrain, it is just you, personally prefer more cushion for rough terrain (which is fine).

    Those who look for more cushion have the 110 & soon 1010 for that exact reason. 

    This is by no means a road shoe like the MR00, even though being minimal, you would obviously feel more comfortable on none rocky terrain.

    I think the MT00 is a minimalist shoes that is capable of rough terrain for those aclamitized to very thing & minimal protection. Those who look for more protection should aim to the 110.

    Ran

    • Pete Larson says:

      Krupicka apparently doesn’t even use it for rough terrain. Rocks are rocks, you step on a pointy one in a non-protective shoe and it’s going to hurt no matter how acclimatized you are. Sure you might get better at avoiding them, but for most people this shoe isn’t a great choice for a lot of off road conditions. If you know you can handle such terrain, then my review shouldn’t sway a shoe choice anyway.
      Sent from my iPad

      • David Landers says:

        Very true, Pete. While the shoe takes minimalism to an exciting place (it’s a shoe barely heavier/bulkier than thick socks), NB got far too cute with the very specific placement of Vibram on the outsole. Not only larger, jagged rocks can ruin your day on a rough trail, but even well-placed gravel is an unnecessary hazard in the MT00s. I’m posting a review on this, from experience on Boulder’s most rocky trails and dirt backroads. I recommend NB return to at least the Vibram protection of the MT10 both for shoe usability and to compete with the Merrell Trail Glove.

  21. Roberto Navarro says:

    Went for a run in the TrailGloves earlier. I really feel that all the trouble with the NB shoes is that the fabric in the heel is just a few millimeters higher and the material is a tad rougher.

    • Pete Larson says:

      This is interesting as I find the opposite – I can run sockless in the NB shoes, but the Merrell’s chew up the skin over my Achilles. Guess we all respond differently to shoes!

      • Roberto Navarro says:

        Guess so. I’m guessing I just need to get used to them. 

        • Kevin LaFleur says:

          I love my NB00s, both road and trail, but have the same issue with the heel/achilles: new shoes always leave a bloody gash, and sometimes I need to just cut the material away to prevent it. I honestly don’t understand the purpose of having the heel so high up.
          And as Mariko noted above, the Roads at least seem tighter in the toebox. I developed blistering on the sides of my feet that I hadn’t before. Looks like it’s time to change my sizing preferences.

  22. Hi Pete,

    I got the 10s not too long ago for the road and loved them for a couple of weeks before losing a shoe while traveling. I was going to reorder the 10s, but having seen this review, I’m thinking maybe I should grab a pair of 00s. I’ve been running in Bakilas in the interim, but prefer the feel of the wide toebox. Any thoughts on the 10s vs the 00s? I’m not necessarily a minimalist purist – I do it to protect my knees.

    Thanks for all the info!

  23. rugbyref says:

    My favorite marketing pitch: “Rocks hurt.  Go Lite makes them not hurt.”  I’m sticking with my Xodus 3′s.  Bring on the rocks!

  24. Stephen Boulet says:

    Pete, how does the feel compare to the Sketchers Go Bionic? Both shoes seem to be about the same weight.

  25. Question, Pete. How much space is there between your big toe and the front of this shoe? Because these shoes are so thin and light, I almost don’t know whether i got the right size.

  26. Brian Martin says:

    Hi Pete, Nice review, I’ve yet to run in these but had a good look at the recent local launch in Melbourne. NB Ambassador Anton Krupicka has reached the same conclusion as you, said he wears these only on made granite sand type flat trails (no rocks) and prefers the MT110′s for the mountain goat terrain up in the hills!

  27. Hey guys,
    So after becoming addicted to running again and having worn out a pair of Nike free’s that killed a knee, I picked these a pair of the minimus trail mt00. I fell in love with these shoes from day 1. I am a serious runner and don’t train lightly. Average weekly mileage is 35-50 miles of trail with only these shoes.
    I never had a tear in the upper or any issues at all. These are definently not waterproof but are light as air. Great room in the toe box as well. I had over 350 miles on these before they were heisted and they were going strong. I will be buying more of these

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