2013 Minimalist Running Shoe Preview: Eye Candy for Shoe Geeks!

Saucony VirrataI’ve been asked a number of times recently about which of the shoes that are coming out in 2013 I’m most excited about. To be honest, there are a ton! After a fairly stagnant Fall with few exciting new shoes released, we are about to get hit by a wave of new minimalist spectrum footwear offerings from most of the major brands. I have a few of these shoes already and have been more than impressed in some cases, and I should be receiving a bunch more in the coming weeks – can’t wait!

What I’m going to do here is compile a list of the shoes I’m most interested in. Details on many are scant at this point, so I’m mostly just going to provide pictures, names, specs, and links where more info can be found.

Here goes!

Adidas Takumi Sen

Adidas Takumi Sen

Think of the Takumi Sen as a lighter, leaner version of the Adios 2. It’s a racing flat built for speed and has the characteristic stiff, firm adidas racing sole. I have a pair and have run in them once – those who like the Adios will love this shoe. For more, view this video at Running Warehouse.

Altra Torin

Altra Torin

The Torin looks to be a more cushioned cousin to the Instinct. It weighs in at just under 10oz in size 9 and has a stack height of 28mm. It is available now at Running Warehouse.

 

Altra The One

Altra The One

I don’t have much in the way of details about The One other than that it is supposedly Altra’s take on a racing flat. Photo above comes from Altra’s Instagram page.

 

Brooks Drift Black

Brooks PureDrift

The PureDrift is Brooks’ most minimal shoe. It has a removable insole that allows it to convert between a 4mm and zero drop shoe – stack height without the 6mm heel-2mm forefoot insole is a uniform 12mm. Weight is 6.1oz in size 9. The PureDrift ships any day now from Running Warehouse. It is in-stock at Road Runner Sports.

 

Inov-8 Roclite 243

Inov-8 Roclite 243

Inov-8 Trailroc 150

Inov-8 Trailroc 150

inov-8-road-xtreme-women

Women’s Inov-8 Road-Xtreme Line (photo via Toesalad)

Inov-8 has really impressed me with their recent offerings, and they have a bunch of new shoes coming out that look promising. The Roclite 243 (pictured above) is a grippy, 3mm drop trail racing shoe. The Trailroc 150 (2nd photo above) is an ultraminimal addition to the Trailroc series – it’s zero drop, supposedly super flexible, and weighs in under 6oz. Also coming are new minimal road shoes (Road-Xtreme line, women’s versions pictured above) and new versions of the F-Lite series on Inov-8’s anatomical last. For more details view this post on the Running Warehouse blog and posts on Toesalad (here and here).

La Sportiva Anaconda

La Sportiva Anakonda (photo via one50South)

I came across the Anakonda on the Biochemical Runner blog, and they look similar to the La Sportiva X-Country (a light, grippy trail shoe that I liked for its simplicity; they are apparently replacing the X-Country). Don’t have a lot of details on this one yet, but looks like it’s under 10oz and 4mm drop.

 

La Sportiva Helios

La Sportiva Helios

The Helios is a lightweight (8.5oz in size 9), 5mm drop, well cushioned trail shoe. In this video review (in Spanish) it looks like it has a very minimal upper and is pretty flexible. That’s about all I have on it. The Helios is in stock now at Running Warehouse.

 

Merrell Mix Master Move

Merrell Mix Master Move

The Mix Master Move is essentially the Mix Master 2 with a more road-friendly sole. This is a good thing as the Mix Master 2 was one of my top 3 hybrid trail shoes of 2012. Lightweight, flexible, and 4mm drop, the Mix Master Move is a shoe that should work well for long distances on roads and non-technical trails. I have a pair, but have only used them for walking around so far – hope to get some miles on them in the next few weeks.

 

Merrell Road Glove 2

Merrell Road Glove 2

The Road Glove 2 is an improvement on the original Road Glove in a number of ways. I like the new upper better, and it feels a bit more cushioned underfoot (good or bad depending on your preference I suppose). Weight is 7.1oz in size 9, and stack height is a uniform 11mm (zero drop). I have a pair of these, though have not run in them yet. Running Warehouse lists the Road Glove 2 as shipping in mid-February.

 

Merrell-Vapor-Glove

Merrell Vapor Glove

This might be the best ultraminimal, barefoot-style shoe that I’ve put on my feet. Stack height is 5mm heel and forefoot, so ground feel is exceptional, and weight is 6.1oz in size 10. The shoe has the typically roomy Merrell Barefoot fit, and the full rubber outsole looks to be plenty durable for so minimal a shoe. Diehard minimalists and barefooters who occasionally need a bit of protection will love this one!

 

Mizuno Cursoris

Mizuno Wave Cursoris

One of Mizuno’s two zero drop offerings for 2013, the Cursoris has a stack height of 18mm and weighs in at 6.8oz in size 9. Available mid-January at Running Warehouse.

 

Mizuno Levitas

Mizuno Wave Levitas

The other zero drop offering from Mizuno for 2013. The Levitas is slightly less shoe than the Cursoris at 15mm stack height and 6.1oz in size 9. Available mid-January from Running Warehouse.

 

Mizuno Ekiden

Mizuno Wave Ekiden

The Ekiden is like a slightly bigger brother to the Wave Universe. It’s a racing flat that weighs 4.7 in size 9 and has a stack height of 20mm heel and 14mm forefoot. If it’s as good as the Universe we’re in for a treat! Available mid-January from Running Warehouse.

 

Montrail Fluid Flex

Montrail Fluid Flex

I wasn’t aware of the Montrail FluidFlex until my buddy Nate recently mentioned that he wanted to try them. The FluidFlex is a hybrid trail shoe that weighs 7.4 oz (size 9) and has a stack height of 21mm heel and 16mm forefoot, so plenty of cushion for long distance running. The shoe is supposedly designed to be very flexible. Available early February from Running Warehouse.

 

New Balance Hi-Rez

New Balance Hi-Rez

Ultralight and ultraflexible are apparently the two words the describe the New Balance Hi-Rez. The zero drop sole is composed of disconnected pods that allow for extreme flexibility, and the shoe weighs in under 5oz. Looks like it will be going up against the  Merrell Vapor Glove in the ultraminimal category. Available Spring 2013.  Read this article on newbalance.com for more.

 

New Balance MO80

New Balance MO80

The MO80 is a minimalist trail shoe with a luggy Vibram outsole and the roomy fit of the New Balance MT110. Weighs 8.2oz and stack height is 18mm heel – 15mm forefoot, so specs are also similar to the MT110. I should have a pair soon so stay tuned on this one. Available now at Running Warehouse.

 

New Balance MR10v2

New Balance MR10v2

This is one that I’m really excited about – the MR10v1 was a miss in my opinion, but version 2 is a complete re-design and looks great. Available early Spring, but you can watch a preview video at Running Warehouse.

 

New Balance MT10v2

New Balance MT10v2

The MT10v2 is a update to a shoe that I liked a lot. Apparently they have fixed the tight forefoot band that I had to sever on the original, and the foam built into the upper of the new version should not act like a sponge like that in the upper of the v1 did. The MT10v2 is available in early Spring, but you can watch a preview video at Running Warehouse.

Pearl Izumi E-Motion N1

Pearl Izumi E:Motion N1 Road

Pearl Izumi E-Motion Trail N1

Pearl Izumi E:Motion N1 Trail

Pearl Izumi is releasing a new line known as E:Motion which features a collection of sub-10oz running shoes. The most minimal of the E:Motion line are the EM N1 Road and EM N1 Trail. Both are 6mm drop. More details can be found on the Running Warehouse blog.

Salomon Sense Mantra

Salomon Sense Mantra

I’ve heard a lot of good things about the Salomon Sense, but have also heard that it’s not durable enough to justify the hefty price tag. The Sense Mantra is a slightly beefier shoe with what looks like a more durable outsole (weight = 9.6 oz in size 9; stack height = 21mm heel, 15mm forefoot). Most importantly, the price tag is much less than the Sense at MSRP $120. The Sense Mantra is available now at Running Warehouse.

 

Salomon Sense Ultra

Salomon Sense Ultra

The Sense Ultra looks like it slots in between the Sense and the Sense Mantra. Still 4mm drop and only slightly heavier, the key differences in the Ultra are a firmer EVA midsole, a more protective, full-coverage outsole that should be more durable, and a longer rock-plate that extends further back toward the midfoot. Additional details on the Sense Ultra and a helpful video can be found at Castleberg Outdoors.

 

Saucony Virrata

Saucony Virrata

Of all of the shoes on this list, this is the one I’m most excited to try. Saucony shoes seem to work really well for me, and the Kinvara and Grid Type A5 are among my all-time favorite running shoes (both of these are also being updated this year). The Virrata looks to me to be a zero drop cousin to the Kinvara, which sounds fantastic. Weighing in at 6.7oz and with a stack height of 17mm, the Virrata is a bit more shoe than the Hattori, but a bit less shoe than the Kinvara. I’m hoping it has the softish feel of the Kinvara which I like for long distances. The Virrata will be in-stock in mid-February at Running Warehouse.

 

vivobarefoot-road

Vivobarefoot Evo Lite, Evo One, and Evo Stealth (photos via Toesalad)

Vivobarefoot is updating the Evo, which was one of the original ultraminimal shoes. It becomes the Evo Lite, which will hopefully fix the forefoot flex problem many have reported with previous iterations of the Evo (apparently it can cause abrasion on the top of the toes). The Evo One has a 3mm outsole and looks like a solid shoe – I’m not crazy about the Vivobarefoot running shoe aesthetic, but the One looks pretty decent. The Evo Stealth is a bit more structured version of the One and shares the same new outsole. For more, read this post on Toesalad.


That’s it for an initial roundup. There are other shoes coming out that I have either seen or worn that I can’t yet talk about in detail, but there are plenty in this list to get us excited about running for the next six months. If there are any that I have missed, please chime in below, and if you’ve reviewed any of these already feel free to leave a link in the comments!

Which of these shoes are you most excited about?

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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. Again, you’ve got a great list here, Pete. Well done.

    So far, I think the Drift has lots of potential. And I say that with mostly surprise, and a hint of disappointment. Fit is glovey, the ride is much better than I expected–firmer, more responsive–but the sprung toe is a real downer. I thought that running in them would feel better, but it was still just a bit too much. Flatten that out a bit and Brooks has a brilliant winner.

    The Takumi Sen are the one I’m waiting for. I’m probably setting myself up for more disappointment, but adidas does racing best and these bad girls are expected to be maha-nice. (The forthcoming adidas Adios Boost is the nbt. Word on the street is that the Kenyans wear testing them won’t give them back.)

    The Ekiden is exactly what a race flat should be and nothing more. Roomy, on the Japanese last and as firm and responsive underfoot as a race flat gets, I’d wager most people wouldn’t take these much beyond a half–if that much–but these might be my next marathon shoe if the Takumi Sen are anything less than an 11.

    The Evo Cursoris are better than I expected. Perhaps a bit more contoured feel than I’d prefer, but the first run in them was good and I forgot I had them on until it was time to unlace them and put breakfast tacos in my face. Too bad the marketing video behind them made me want to jump off a curb.

    Thanks again. Your blog is the go-to and I hope that your 2013 is abundant in good health and good posting.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks John! Been wearing the Drift around for a few days, no runs yet but they feel great so far. Was the Cursoris video the one with the gecko at the end? Yeah, agree with you on that. Ekiden sounds like my kind of shoe, and I need to do some digging on the Boost! Hadn’t heard of that one.
      Sent from my iPad

      • The Adios Boost will be the Adios, but with a new midsole material which is, as I understand it, little EVA beads that are compressed together to form the midsole and which provide a feel that I’ve heard described as “boingy.” Durability is supposed to be quite high–50 runs with no breakdown, or something along those lines, according to adidas people–and if memory serves, the midsole is a wee bit lower profile than the Adios 2.

        Also, I’m digging the MR10v2, and look forward to running in them, because I think they aaaaallmost got the first one right, and I like that the designers at NB have been given room to play.

      • Louise Bourque Cunningham says:

        Pete, I should have a pair of Ekiden’s arriving today that Mizuno is sending me to review! I am so excited!!

  2. Pete,

    A couple questions (1) do the Road Glove 2 and Vapor Glove have arch support like the original Road glove, and (2) do you know if the new Vivobarefoot offerings still have a that stiff heel counter? I tried both of these offerings, but the arch support and stiff heel counter, respectively, eventually relegated them to my dust bin. (currently running in Skora’s and Bikila’s).

    Thanks for the informative post!

  3. Johan Alvehus says:

    Just got a pair of Saucony Virrata from Wiggle. Unfortunately I’ll have to send them back, size is on the small side (I normally have US 9.5, but these were too short), and the last is too narrow, will not allow toe-spread. Want to move to zero-drop shoes, but I want some cushioning since I’m training for a marathon (Venice, Oct). Cushioning in Virrata seemed good though, has anyone had the opportunity to compare it to Merrell Bare Access 2? (Merrell’s last is perfect for my feet.)

  4. Lea Wold says:

    I am a beginning runner and have been running in some Asics Gel Nimbus 14s and seem to like them.

    I got them at http://www.RogansShoes.com

  5. Ugo Leblanc says:

    And what about Skechers? Do they have something new that is coming in the next few months ? I really like the Go Bionic and hope they are coming with other good products…

    I’m really happy to know that the Merrell Vapor Glove won’t feel like the other Merrell under the arch, it’s a good news for me…this shoe looks awsome, it will be a nice alternative to vibram.

    Tanks for the preview…

  6. Michael Chouinard says:

    Can anyone recommend a low-drop shoe for long distance?

  7. Louise Bourque Cunningham says:

    Pete, this is so not fair!!! Now I want a pair of all of them and dont know what to choose!!!

  8. I can’t wait to get the NB Mo80s. I’ve been eagerly anticipating them since September.

    I only run off road, so I’m also interested in Skechers Trail Bionic, Pearl Izumi N1 trail, and the updated versions of the Altra Lone Peak, and Merrell Trail Glove.

  9. $150 dollars is so much for a shoe. especially one with so little durable rubber. I have a hard time justifying spending more than $100. ohhwell.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I agree. I find it hard to stomach paying over $100 for a shoe, especially since I buy about half of the shoes I review.

  10. Christian Eriksson says:

    Excellent roundup Pete! So much to choose from, so little money ;)

    Since I love my MT10′s I am most looking forward to the MT10v2; a little lighter and with just slight alterations it should be a perfect shoe for me. And I really hope that the MR10v2 will be my new marathon shoe of choice as I am looking for something minimal for my rare road races.

    Other than those mentioned above, Inov-8 Trailroc 150 may deliver what the MT00 promised but could not keep – to be a rugged but super minimal trail shoe. Just hope that it is comfier, roomier and more durable!

  11. A couple more: the mysterious new Hoka Rapa Nui Comp (trail) and Kailua Comp (road). These are supposedly lighter models than currently offered by Hoka. There is little information one these new shoes.

  12. INOV 8 Roclite 243
    I reviewed the shoe recently, and really enjoyed cruising around the local trails.

    http://evolutionexpress.blogsp

  13. Most interested in the E:motion line, but with so many models it is unlikely the full line will be available locally for test run.

  14. Christian Carlo says:

    I am eager to know your thoughts on the Merrell Road Glove 2 and your review of the Vapor Glove. I’ve been waiting a long time for them to come out and see your comparison between the two to see which one I’ll buy first. Great post!

  15. Unbelievable, a very conservative runners store in my town had the Vittaras already. I did not expect them in the Netherlands before summer. Especially since you expect them in Running Warehouse mid February. Store owner said he liked them so much, he ordered them ASAP. I tried them on, and bought them. I prefer buying my shoes in real stores above from the net. 10% discount helps also. They feel good! Thought they weigh almost the same as my Kinvara 3s, but scale says 29 grams less. 228 vs 199 grams, in seize US10/euro 44. I did a long run yesterday, so I will wait for tomorrow to take the Vittaras out, but I can hardly wait! According to the store owner they will last as long as my Kinvaras. And far longer than racing flats. That is one thing that I like : durability. I will get back with my experience soon.

  16. Eric Narcisi says:

    The new Mizunos look pretty sweet. I’m a Mizuno man, but was disappointed that the Universe didn’t come in my size (12.5). Do you know if these new Mizuno entries will have a more standard size range? I also had trouble getting the Universe at my local running shop.

  17. Aaron Grenz says:

    Great summary. I’m due for some new trail and road shoes in the next few months, so it’s good to see I’ll have lot of great options to look for.

    Have you seen anything coming with Gore-Tex or other waterproof membrane? I live in Minnesota, so prefer to have some weatherproof trail shoes to keep the feet dry and keep some warmth in my feet when running in sub-zero temps in the winters here.

    The overall design/looks have gotten notably better. Nearly all of these shoes above have looks that a like (the 3 Mizunos don’t quite hit the mark for me). The minimalist shoe choices have improved considerably in not just features, but also in looks from just 1-2 years ago when you had only a few, relatively “plain”-looking options mostly from Vibram, Merrell, Altra, and New Balance.

  18. Hi, Pete. Enjoyed your blog. Probably you are aware that Takumi Sen (pronounced more like “Cen”) is developed by a Japanese shoe meister Mr. Mimura, who used to work for Asics and produced racing flats for athletes including olympic gold medalists Naoko Takahashi and Mizuki Noguchi. He now consults Adidas to develop some of their lines of Adizero shoes. In Japan, Takumi Sen has more cushioned counterpart called Takumi Ren, named after a Japanese word for training. I owned both pairs and love them.

    • Hi, Mits,

      do you know what’s the offset of the Adidas Takumi Ren? Thanks!

      • No measurement is available, but it feels like the offset is 6 to 8 mm for Ren, and around 6 mm for Sen. Ren also comes with thicker insoles than Sen does.

        Ren weighs 7.0 oz for US men 9.0.

        • Thanks, Mits! I imagined the Ren should be in that range of offset – they seem a bit less shoe than the Adios 2 (which are 9mm).

          • Seth, Ren may have less offset than original Adios or Adios 2 (which are called Japan and Japan 2 in Japan. Cool, isn’t it?), it draws significant numbers of suitors looking for similar ride as the original Adios. I don’t have personal experience, but was told that Ren has a bit softer ride than Adios 2 does.

    • Pete Larson says:

      I did read that somewhere, maybe on the Running Warehouse blog. I generally like adidas flats for speed and racing, and these are a promising option. Need to get more miles on mine!

      —-
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  19. Mark Junkans says:

    It’s gonna be such a good year, but all these choices are making it hard to choose. It seems that every wish I have about running shoes is coming true. Really wish the Altraand the Virrata were here already.

  20. Nice preview, I almost feel sad my new Saucony A5s arrive tomorrow. One question: are you sure about the weight of the Mizuno Wave Ekiden? It looks more like at least a 7.4 instead of 4.7… (Additions in grams per shoe would also be nice for metrical-system readers)

  21. Jeff Giedt says:

    I’m running the Altra Torin now and am enjoying it. It looks clunkier than it runs. I love having cushion while maintaining zero drop. The lacing systems leave a lot to be desired. You have to crank the top laces to keep the heel down, but it appears the sole is breaking in and there is much less heal lift then my first couple runs. Great forefoot room. My feet are happy in them.

    • SapphoAndGrits says:

      My Altra Superiors were the same way, but they’ve “settled” now. One of the best trail shoes I’ve ever run in.

  22. The Mix Master Move and NB MR10 v2 look nice… might have to rethink buying Bare Access 2s as my next shoes.

    In your experience, how long do the Brooks Pure Project shoes last? Their website says only 300-350 miles, which is pretty much the only reason I haven’t bought any.

  23. IMO the New Balance MR10V2 is the best, but i’m not to crazy about the color you posted… I prefer it in red: http://www.newbalancevancouver

  24. i’ve been running with my puredrifts for a week now, and my feet feels great, and i’m pretty sure that you will like them. i hope you come up with a review of brooks puredrift soon.

  25. Jack Ryon says:

    I know you can’t say much about the new merrell mystery shoe, but would you be able to disclose whether they’re intended for road or offroad use?
    Awesome blog.
    Jack

  26. Wish I could try them all, whew, what great choices! But so much $$.

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