New Balance MT100-WT100 Review

Over the past year, New Balance’s MT100 (men’s) and WT100 (women’s) have gathered quite a following among fans of minimalist trail shoes. Designed with the help of Anton Krupicka and the Skaggs brothers, there aren’t a lot of extras on these shoes. Watch the following video for a closer look at this lightweight, trail-worthy shoe. As with future video reviews on iRunFar, you can also skip ahead to written summary of the video review.

[Editor’s Note: We’re afraid this video has been lost to the ether.]

[This is the first of what we hope will be many Trail Trials with Travis Liles video reviews here on iRunFar. He’s previously produced great video reviews on FlatlandUltra.com and, more recently, at his website, RunTheUltras.com. We’re excited that he’s joined the iRunFar family.

You can now subscribe to all of iRunFar’s video content via iTunes or via RSS for non-iTunes users. You can also subscribe to audio-only versions of iRunFar’s podcasts via RSS.]

New Balance MT100/WT100 Review
The New Balance MT100/WT100 (hereinafter MT100 for simplicity’s sake) is an evolution of the New Balance 790. It’s a marquee shoe in the current set of low profile trail shoes. A men’s size 9 tips the scale at a mere 7 ounces and change. Be aware that you’re wallet will weigh more than after buying most other trail shoes as the MSRP is a mere $75. For the over eager, iRunFar has previously shared a sneak peak at the MT101/WT101 due out late in 2010. Below, we’ll look at the shoe’s outsole, midsole, and upper.

Outsole
The MT100’s outsole is trail specific, but is suitable for some road running. The shoe is particular adept on packed dirt. It is not the shoe of choice for sloppy mud.

New Balance MT100 outsole

The New Balance MT100's lightweight, trail-worthy outsole.

The foremost half of the outsole features lugs a few millimeters thick. Minimally textured rubber stretches from the arch back to the heel, which is home to the shoe’s most significant lugs for braking. The outsole features circular cutouts that reduce weight.

Midsole
The MT100 has a single density midsole, meaning that the shoe does not have a post for pronation control. On the other hand, the midsole is raised on both the inside and outside of the midfoot. This results in a fair amount of support for the shoe’s weight.

New Balance MT100 midsole

The New Balance MT100's surprisingly supportive midsole.

The Rock Stop rockplate sandwiched between the outsole and midsole offers decent push-through protection in the forefoot and midfoot. The TPU plate does, however, mean that the shoe is a bit stiffer in the forefoot than some comparable models and creates a pivot point at the rear of the rockplate.

Upper
The upper is primarily mesh backed by lightweight fabric and has minimal overlays. These combine to provide a sock like feel that gives the foot room to wiggle around. However, the upper also does not offer much lateral support, which can be problematic on technical or switchbacking trail. The highly breathable fabric allows water to quickly drain from the shoe.

New Balance MT100 upper

The New Balance MT100's highly flexible upper.

The ankle collar and heel counter are made of a material akin to nerf foam. Unlike conventional shoes, there is no fabric covering the foam on the shoe’s exterior. Some users, including iRunFar’s Bryon Powell, have had the hard foam at the top of the Achilles notch slice into the skin covering the Achilles while running sockless. Other runners have experienced similar discomfort while wearing socks. If needed, the upper portion of the Achilles notch can be cut away. New Balance is aware of the problem and is addressing it in the MT101.

The MT100 also has a minimal tongue consisting of a single layer of the lightweight mesh/fabric combination that makes up much of the shoe. The “sausage like” Sure Laces keep the shoe secure and laces locked tight.

New Balance MT100/WT100 Giveaway

Well, we’ve given away the five pairs of New Balance’s MT100 or WT100. The winners are Jeremy Slatton of Barnhart, MO; Glen D of Shrub Oak, NY; David; Randy Snyder of Bismarck, ND; and Derek of Weybridge, VT.

Call for Comments/Questions
While the contest is as simple as noted above, we’d love some more info from our readers. If you’ve previously worn the MT100 or WT100, please let us know what you like about them? If you’ve worn other minimalist shoes, what do you like such shoes, in general, and what has you the most excited about the New Balance shoes?

As always, please ask any questions you might have about the shoes.

[Note regarding comments: We might delete all non-substantive, contest-entry comments after the contest concludes so as to make the remaining substantive comments more useful to future readers.]

[Disclosure: The Amazon link in this article is part of an affiliate program that helps support iRunFar. If you haven’t guessed, New Balance is providing the five pairs of MT100/WT100s.]

Travis Liles

resides in Portland, Oregon where he is a husband, father, and a technical specialist for a software company. In his spare time, he is exploring his new home in the Pacific Northwest, getting more vertical but still not living in the thin air, while producing “Trail Trials with Travis Liles” video gear reviews for iRunFar.

There are 318 comments

  1. Sarah

    I love my 100's! Like other people, I've had the back of the shoe cut into my ankle, only once though, I just wore higher socks next time. I also think that they are great in mud. They wont get weighed down by mud and water so you don't have to slow down. I can't wait for the new version with improvements to come out.

    Sarah

    Marengo, IL

  2. Jeremiah

    I've heard a lot of good comments about the 100's but I have to say that this video review has made up my mind. Definitely going to pick up a pair now and look forward to a chance to try them out.

    Love the website, love the reviews, keep up the good work!

    Jeremiah P.

    Kailua, HI

  3. Peter

    I love my 790's! I'm running in my last pair of them and as soon as they go I'm switching to the MT100's. I love these as lightweight trail shoes. Perfect for the trails near my house.

    Peter

    Harrison, NY

  4. Elizabeth

    I've never worn the New Balance trail shoe, but would give it a go! Currently I wear the Inov-8 Roclite 260's which are fairly minimalist and provide stellar traction on rocks for very technical terrain. I've also worn the LaSportiva Fireblades and loved those shoes because of the sticky rubber on the outsole. Lastly, I've worn the Brooks Cascadia's and definitely did not love them. To me, they seem like a regular road running shoe with an aggressive (non-sticky) outsole. I found the Cascadia's didn't provide a snug enough fit for trails.

    Elizabeth

    New York, NY

  5. Nick Lee

    I bought my first pair of MT100s about a month ago and I absolutely love them. They're about as close to barefoot trail running as I can imagine. They don't have enough cushioning for me to wear them on any run longer than about 10-15 miles but they're perfect for shorter trail runs (and hopefully my feet, ankles, knees, and legs will continue to strengthen and allow me to wear them for my longer runs). Definitely can't be your only pair of shoes unless you have legs of steel like Krupicka or Skaggs but an excellent addition to your arsenal of shoes with which to attack the trail.

  6. John McAlister

    I've got two pairs of these and love running in them. However, I've never worn them on a run longer than four hours. They're okay for limited road use, so useful for those runs that incorporate a bit of trail and road. I've never had a problem with the ankle collar, so grateful for that. The one improvement I'd like to see is more of a secure fit on the top of the midfoot, as there is some foot sliding when running on technical or muddy sections. The shoe drains and dries quickly, so a good choice for terrain that includes river or stream crossings. The shoe is comfortable and light. While I tend to wear my Crosslites for most of my longer trail runs, I grab my MT100s for most of my shorter midweek runs.

    John McAlister

    Toronto, Canada

  7. Jeff

    I've been itching to try these out! I have a pair of MT840's that I've loved, but I'm looking to go with less shoe out on the trail.

    Jeff Lorow

    Mechanicsburg, PA

  8. Ben Dickson

    Love these shoes, light, good protection from the rocky trails here. Make me think I'm faster than I really am.

    Ben D

    Reno NV

  9. Jason D.

    I've seen a couple reviews of these now and they look interesting. Would like to give them a try! I've got a birthday coming up this week…I know the folks at New Balance were planning to get me a gift anyway. ;)

    Jason D.

    Magalia, CA

  10. Ray

    Phenomenal shoes – love running in them on all terrain from asphalt to rocks, to mud. My only complaint has been sometimes on really technical downhill my feet slide around a bit too much, but it sounds like the 101's will also address this.

    I haven't experienced any of the achilles' issues. In fact, they're the only shoes that DON'T bother my achilles!

    – Ray

    Springfield, NJ

  11. Thomas E.

    The minimalist aspect of the MT100 intrigues me, but if it is as you say, great on packed trails, then it gives me a slight pause. Although not quite the minimalist shoe, I really like my Sportiva Crosslites. I wonder hot the MT100 ride would compare.

    Thanks,

    Thomas

    Knoxville, TN

  12. Shad

    I love these shoes!!! I use these as my trail shoes and Nike Frees as my road shoe. Lighter the better over a 100 miles.

    Shad

    Boulder Colorado

  13. Chris

    I'd love to pick up a pair of these, as my road shoes are getting increasingly minimal, and I'd like to move in that direction on trails, too.

    Chris

    Ellettsville, IN

  14. Miles

    One other note on the 100's – they run about a 1/2 size small. Usually wear a 12 in running shoes (including my beloved 790s), but definitely needed a 12.5 in the 100's. Love the site!

    Miles

    Houston, TX

  15. Curt Rissmiller

    I've switched to lighter road shoes already, and the MT100 looks like it might be my new trail shoe. Does anyone know how the forefoot width compares to other NB shoes?

    Curt Rissmiller

    Bear DE

    1. Brad Williams

      Hi Curt,

      i run in both the NB 100s and the 790s. I think that the forefoot in the 100s is quite a bit more narrow than that of the 790s or other NB models that I've run in the past. However, not to the degree that it makes me go up a size. I wear a 10.5 in both models. I just seem to have a bit more "wiggle room" in the 790s which can be both good and bad depending on how you look at it and what kind on a run you're going on. I hope this helps.

  16. Connie (OHCowgirl)

    Oh wow! I would love a pair of these. My first ever running shoes…back in the mid-80's were NB and I loved them.

    Connie

    Columbus, OH

  17. Jeff lichty

    After running a technical trail in vibram five fingers and tons of stone brusing I can't wait to get my hands on these…they're the perfect shoe for me

    Gatineau Quebec

  18. will

    Great review.

    Will L

    New York, NY

    I'm a minimalist shoe guy so basically when I look for a new shoe now, I look almost exclusively at the weight of the shoe (anything more than 10oz is usually out for me). These MT100's interest me b/c they are lightweight AND for trail, a combo you don't see too often.

  19. Seth Ballard

    Those look to be great shoes. I haven't had a chance to see them up close yet but the video was a great way to introduce them to me. Need a new pair of shoes anyways so here's hoping!

    Seth Ballard

    Inverness, FL

  20. knix05

    The Balance MT100 looks like very light !

    There trails will be perfects for the Saintélyon (69 km half road and half trail) !

    Good website

    David

  21. Josh

    I've been running in the MT100s for about 2 months and love them. They've pretty much ruined me for all my other shoes. I've built up to running >20 miles in them and this weekend wore them for the first half of a 50 miler. My only semi "complaint" is that because of the low profile I accumulate a fair amount of dirt and rocks inside them when running on softer/sand-ier trails. But I think it's worth it for the rest of benefits – comfort, lightweight, soft touch on ground, etc.

    josh

  22. FameThrowa

    Great review. Have had my eyes on these for awhile and would love to give them a shot … seems like it might be just the shoe I'm looking for.

    FameThrowa

    Durham, NC

  23. Jason Patton

    Love these shoes. I have about 600 miles on mine in snow, mud, dirt, rocks and asphalt. All my other shoes stay in the closet. I need a new pair soon though I bet I get another couple hundred miles out of this pair.

    Jason Patton

    Albuquerque, NM

  24. Nic

    I'm on my second pair of MT100's. The first pair gave me some issues after I ran on roads a bit too much in them, but when it comes to trails, they're top notch!

    I'd love to get a pair thanks to iRunFar!

    Kiel, WI

  25. Kevin

    I swear I'm serious when I keep saying the shoes you feature on these give-aways are the shoes I've been keeping an eye on and planning on getting! Actually, I ended up picking up a pair of cross lights (I know, before the contest even ended on the La Sportiva give-away!) and I love them. My goal in getting them was to assist in my transitioning to the minimalist MT100s. I also picked up a pair of the VFF's to help build strength and toughen my feet for the transition. Winning these would just make my transition that much easier! ;)

    Kevin

    Greenbelt, MD

  26. BJ

    Love the 100's. Always my go to shoe unless I'm expecting mud. Feels like my foot's in a nimble slipper. Unfortunately my current pair is long in the tooth and a bit short on rubber. Hook me up.

    BJ

    Ogden, UT

  27. Eric Jeppsen

    I like my 100s, especially for racing–they're light and comfortable, and with the rock plate they seem to provide sufficient protection on technical trails. However, they're not perfect: if I don't lace them tightly through the heel and midfoot, they feel very insecure on technical trails; they let a lot of trail debris enter through the ankle; the uppers are not very durable, and rocky terrain will shred them sooner than later (of course, it's probably not reasonable to expect light weight and durability, especially at the price).

    Eric

    Salt Lake City, UT

  28. Jim Parry

    This looks like a great shoe! I was wearing more minimalist shoes way before it was cool to do so. I have always been most comfortable in a shoe that is light, flexible, and fast, even thought personally I don't fit into any of those categories! I have followed Anton Krupicka for some time and would love to try out a pair of shoes that he helped design. By the way, your interview with him was great! I have watched it several times, and find inspiration from each viewing.

  29. Tyson L.

    Great review! I love my 790s but I don't think they will last much longer. These look like their replacement. Has anyone got a sneak peak of the MT101s?

    Tyson L.

    Chicago, IL

    1. Bryon Powell

      Tyson, I got a chance to see the MT101 and talk to the New Balance folk about it back in January. I provided some commentary here: http://www.irunfar.com/2010/01/trail-running-shoe… .

      In brief, the MT101 is very similar to the MT100, but has a more flexible rockplate, a more supportive upper, and a double thickness tongue. NB addressed the occasional Achilles cutting with manufacturing changes. Another manufacturing change was to switch out an adhesive, the offgassing of which bothered some folks. The prototype I saw was /slightly/ heavier than the MT100, but I think it was still under 8 ounces for a men's 9.

  30. Billy

    I finally got on the MT100 bandwagon and I absolutely love em. Haven't quite reached double digits in them yet, but they are great for fast running on not-too-technical trails. Feel like I can climb faster in them due to the light weight and yes, the heel design is great for the downhills.

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