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. Jay Thomson

    Excellent review! I just started trail running 3 months ago and these were the first pair of shoes I piked up…and I honestly don't see myself moving away from them. They are super light, while still providing a good deal of support. I will be testing them out in my first 50k this weekend. I'm in love with my MT100's!

    Jay Thomson

    Santa Cruz, CA

  2. Glenn Steckler

    Tried these on at a store, fast and light, but don't know if my feet could stand 100 miles of Leadville in them, however, they would be a great training tool to help build foot strength. Please consider me for your contest. Thank you for the great review and info.

    Glenn Steckler

    Telluride, CO

  3. John Constan

    I'm in the market for a new training/racing trail shoe since Vasque Blur has changed their style a bit. I would love to try a pair out I'm size 10.5 – 11.

    Thanks,

    John Constan

    Grand Junction, CO

  4. Tobias

    Thanks for sharing this excellent review of the MT100s! I've been intrigued by the shoes for a while for the obvious appeal of their minimal design and exceptional outsole. But, since I just purchased a pair of Inov-8 Flyroc 310s, I'm, um, not allowed to buy any new shoes for a while. It sure would be nice to compare these to the Inov-8s, though. If only there were some way to get my feet in a pair…

    Tobias Hough :: Raleigh

  5. David Kennedy

    I'd love to give them a try, a couple of friends have tried the MT100s and so far like them.

    David Kennedy

    Honesdale, PA

  6. Evan

    Im Evan, I live (LA = Lower Alabama)in Lillian, AL and irunfar.com and I could go a (far piece) with a pair of these Fancy shoes !!!

  7. Jim P.

    Haven't yet had the chance to try out the MT100s, but I have been passed on Green Mountain in Boulder, CO by Tony Krupicka. As we all remember from our days as kids, new shoes make your run faster. Here's to hoping a new pair of New Balance shoes will do the trick.

  8. Paul

    Love the minimalist stuff…just got myself a pair of the f-lite 230s and they are great. I like being able to feel the ground, especially on the trails. I feel more in tune with my body.

    Paul J

    San Diego

  9. Tom

    Count me in for a pair, size 11.5.

    I paced my wife 20 miles at her first ultra in a borrowed pair of MT100's and loved them. Not great traction in the sloppy, muddy conditions, but felt like slippers!

    Tom

    Ankeny, IA

  10. Zach Ashby

    I have found that the MT100 are about the best shoe that I have worn. I would love to have another pair (or two or three)

    Zach

    Stanford, CA

  11. PeterDickson

    The concept of this shoe is perfect for very competitive or elite runners on well structured trail runs, but I am concerned that this is not enough shoe for most serious runners. I remember seeing the earlier model 790 being used on the Kepler Challenge which is a 62km non technical mountain run in New Zealand. That runner was pronating so badly in his 790's that his heel had slid over the inside edge of the shoe and the shoe was basically rotating outwards on his feet and the inside edge of his heel was landing on the shoes upper. Basically the upper was not strong enough to keep his heel centered correctly on the sole. Seeing that a lot of non-elite runners buy lightweight shoes to improve their performances, I would hope that NB recognize that some support, or structure, is still required to make this shoe fit for use by the majority of runners who will be buying it.

  12. kevin

    I bought the MT100's last December and I've really enjoyed running in them. I've switched back and forth between my MT100's and LaSportiva Fireblades. I don't run a whole lot of miles, but the MT100's are a lot of fun. I enjoy their light weight, but I've never felt that they don't give me enough protection (thankfully I haven't nailed any rocks with the toe bumper, because it's definitely softer than many trail shoes). The rockplate does a great job of protecting the bottom of the foot and it's even better than I expected it to be.

    I haven't run an ultra in them, but they've served my purposes for shorter runs very well.

    I wore them on the road this past weekend for 6.55 miles in a 4-person marathon relay. I don't have any road shoes and they felt fine on the pavement for that distance.

    Another pair would be great!

    Kevin

    Newark, DE

  13. Steve

    I've been running in a pair of these for a while now and I love them. I had no issue with the Achilles notch. I don't care for the laces, they seem too short and the sausage links make it hard to get the perfect tight-loose fit. I haven't run any super long distances in them, but for the shorter (up to 10 miles) that I've done they've been perfect. It's just fun running in a shoe that's so light you hardly feel it.

    And I'd like another pair, please.

    Steve

    Idaho Falls, ID

  14. Meghan

    Wow, impressive response to this piece! So cool! Would you kindly put me in your drawing hat? Thanks for all the awesome work you do!

  15. Cheri

    I've been dreaming of the MT100 ~ funds are low & I've only ran in Brooks Cascadia.

    I'd love to have a pair.

    Can't feed the family shoes….so my funds are limited in shoe shopping.

    Cheri Redwine

    McMinnville, Oregon

  16. victor snover

    I am considering a pair of the mt100 shoes and just can't pull the trigger on them… I am afraid that at 200 lbs I am too big to wear such a minimalist shoe, what do you guys think. Reading Born to Run really made me rethink my whole approach to running and equipment for running and these shoes seem like the perfect platform for that new approach. Currently I have Montrail Mountain Masochist and just picked up a pair of Cascadia 5's based largely on the reviews on this very site… thanks and keep it up!

  17. Tom

    Thanks for reviewing the shoes. I am looking forward to trying these out as I like prefer pseudo-minimalistic shoes and I'm curious if these shoes could handle the 70-90 mpw I put in on rocky trails. Plus, I'm very poor and I need new shoes! Size 10 por favor?

    -Tom

    Canon City, CO

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