New Balance MT110 Review

[Ty Draney has been a sponsored ultrarunner for a long time. Patagonia and UltrAspire are currently lucky enough to have him on board. Ty’s also the RD for Wyoming’s El Vaquero Loco (he’s a Spanish teacher) and the author of the following review.]

In the midst of a tough weekend at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City last month, I was hanging out with Bryon after the Jupiter Steeplechase in Park City when I caught wind that he had a pair of New Balance MT110.  I instantly pounced and begged, whined, and haggled my way into borrowing them for a test run myself.

New Balance MT110

I have been wearing the NB MT100 (review), MT101 (review), and Minimus Trail (review) for several years and was anxious to see the new upgrades to one of my favorite shoes.

First Impressions
I first tried the shoes at the “Boxing Bear” night run during OR.  The fit is definitely slipper-like.  I opted to go sockless because I typically wear a 9.5 and sample size is 9.  The upper consists of some sort of plastic compound completely lined with a soft breathable lining that makes the shoe very comfortable with or without socks, my concern was with how well they would breath and absorb water.

New Balance MT110 lateral upper

When I put them on it felt like I was meeting the offspring of the 101 and the Minimus Trail.  They are much more comfortable and pliable than the 10, but much more protective than the minimus.  The 110 are built on the same last as the Minimus and have a heel to toe drop of 4 mm.  The outsole is two-piece with a nice toe wrap/bumper that is protective, but not too bulky.  The tread is much better than its predecessors, with cleverly trimmed directional lugs that give you traction going uphill on the forefoot and downhill on the heel.  The exposed, foam midfoot area also has lugs.

The Big Test
I put in about 50 miles in the shoes before the big test: 80 miles in the Wind River Mountains.  I ran enough in them that I was confident that the shoes would hold up, but I was a bit worried about my feet.  I was also confident that the Wind Rivers would be the perfect testing ground for the new shoes.  The route Jared Campbell had planned for us would include rocks, sandy trail, boulder hopping, snow fields and 12,000-foot passes to negotiate – pretty much Hell’s Kitchen for shoes.

I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of the upper.  They drained quickly and looked brand spanking new every time they got wet.  The lining remained slightly damp, but didn’t cause any problems.  The wet lining may only be problematic if your feet tend to blister when they get “pruney.” Between the lining and my wool socks my feet never completely dried, but they were never “sloshy” despite the many snowfields we navigated and all the creeks we crossed.

New Balance MT110 medial upper

The best feature of the shoe is the outsole.  It is made of a nice sticky rubber that was stellar on the entire boulder hopping and cross-country slickrock we crossed.  The tread was just enough to keep me upright on the snowfields and the mud, while the toe bumper was just enough to preserve my toes of the more than occasional kicked rock.

New Balance MT110 outsole

After 21 hours of tough mountain running my lower legs were a bit sore, but I was very pleased with the result.  The 110 provided just enough cushioning, flexibility, and protection and are in every way as superior shoe to its ancestors.  I am looking forward to getting my feet in a pair of 9.5’s as soon as they are available.

New Balance MT110 outsole closeup

(After nearly 200 miles and 30k climbing and descending through the toughest terrain I could throw at them, they are showing a little wear.  The liner is starting to wear on the heel slightly and I had a branch stab and rip the plastic upper on my instep. The toe bumper is peeling slightly.  Still love the shoes.)

NB MT110 blowout

NB MT110 blowout

Additional Information
For more info, check out our technical preview of the MT110 as well as our in-depth Making of the MT110 article with Anton Krupicka and Erik Skaggs interviews. We highly recommend reading all three pieces.]

Call for Comments
Are you looking forward to the New Balance MT110? What have you thought of the NB MT100, MT100, and/or Minimus Trail?

Bonus Images

Ty Draney MT110

Ty Draney kicking it in the Wind River Mts in his MT110.

NB MT110 sockliner

The sockliner of NB MT110's AK (Anton Krupicka model)

There are 95 comments

  1. Mark

    My thoughts on the shoe:

    The 110 could have been a great shoe, but after running through 4 pair I've given up on it. If you snag the toes on a root they can rip, the cushioning is only good for about 100 hard miles, and the sole is not flat and causes excessive pronation. I started having the same shin pain that has kept Anton injured all year (I have a hard time believing it is a coincidence.) as soon as I switched shoes it resolved. The heel on the MT110 also has stitching on it, which is a TERRIBLE place to put seams, and I get massive blisters where the seam ends on the lateral side of the heel. Lastly, the shoe just stinks, literally. The mesh that they put in the toe area traps all kinds of bacteria, stinkiest shoe I’ve ever owned.

    This is supposed to be a sockless shoe but it's one of the only shoes I've ever owned that I cannot run sockless in.

    1. Andrew Meisler

      Interesting how every foot is different. I agree with all the faults you point out, especially the sole pronation factor and the seams in the heal. Yet I have loved the shoe, and they have served me well in races up to 50 miles on technical terrain. Still, with all the flaws, I'm hoping to replace them with the 1010, and remain hopeful that the new shoe will have benefited from trial and error(s) with the 110.

  2. MikeZ

    Mark summed up all the experience I had with MT110 except the smelly shoe bit because I started wearing socks after a couple of nice blister :). I am still having issue with my shin i.e. tibialis posterior injury which I had been reluctant to blame it totally on the 110 alone…. although I have never been injured from running. My only suggestion to NB is that putting extra bits of rubber on where there's high rate of wear & tear (lateral side) is NOT a good idea at all.

  3. Steve K

    Loved these shoes when I got them, especially because they felt much more protective on rocky ground than my Minimus Trails. However, after a few months it feels like the cushioning is gone (or at least rock hard), and the balls and insides of my feet hurt when I wear them on runs of more than a couple miles. For now, I have returned to my old traditional shoes for my long runs. I like the NB fit, so maybe the MT1010 will be a better everyday shoe for me.

  4. Jason E.

    I've got about 75-80 miles and about 30k of vertical on my MT110's so far. Pretty happy with this shoe. They still look pretty mint. Recommended. I'll probably buy another pair.

  5. JP

    I've seen at least one new colour scheme for these recently, and am wondering if there is any update on whether NB did anything to address people's perception that the outside edge of the shoe is too built up?

  6. Andrew

    Hi Byron

    Just wondering if you can confirm the lower lateral edge for sure?

    I'm about to order my second pair on 110s and as I am in South Africa, I want to make sure that it's worth the extra as I have to buy them off ebay or similar.



    1. Bryon Powell

      I've not seen nor measured the 2013 colorway MT110s for the lower later edge, but have no reason to doubt previous NB statements to that effect. Again, this would only be in the MT110s made for release this year. The safest way to know that is to get a new 2013 colorway.

  7. Shane

    I went from running in the original MT 100's to these and I have been seriously injured ever since. I ran hundreds of miles in the MT 100's with NO issues ever. Took the new 110's out for a 6 miler with about 100 ft elevation gain and they felt ok (I started to form a blister on the medial (inside) side of the ball of my foot but thought little of it. My calves and legs overall felt fine. Did a second run ( about 7-8 miles of trail) and had the same hot spot but felt overall ok. That night I was woken up by throbbing pain in in the medial side of the ball of my left foot. I haven't been able to run since (6 weeks !).The shoes seemed to fit fine and I have used minimal type shoes (mt 100's) for years. My calves felt fine (so the 4 mm drop I don't think play a factor).My mileage was also the same as it had been for months. My running is ruined for the whole summer(at least ) most likely as I still have pain. Going to podiatrist today as I think it is sesamoiditis. I have never had a foot injury in my life and I am sooo disappointed. I honestly feel these shoes are the primary cause and if that is the case I may as well have just run in cowboy boots because my foot is destroyed. I have used NB trail and road shoes for over a decade and will NEVER use them again. I just hope to be able to run again at this point. I give the MT 110's 2 thumbs down.

  8. Martin

    Just got a pair of 110s and although on the inside it says 2013 I can still feel that unevenness in the forefoot. I'm not shure if NB really made that much of a change to the sole and am now debating whether to run in them or to send them back. Bummer since I've been very happy with the mt10 and also quite a bit excited after all the good things one can read about this shoe.

    1. Jack

      I highly recommend that you don't run in them. I spent most of last spring with horrible post tibial tendon pain after just a few runs in the 110. I threw them away shortly thereafter. The unevenness may not be an issue for some folks, but it wreaked havoc on my feet and ankles. I can say that the new 1010 (v2s) are much flatter feeling, and a very comfortable ride. Planning to use them for at least part of a 100 next weekend, in fact.

  9. Martin

    Hi Jack!

    Sorry to hear you got hurt but thanks for the warning! I contacted the retailer and I'm gonna send them back.

    I already tried

    – the 1010 V2 (didn't like the upper because it somehow got strange wrinkles when running which could be felt on all toes)

    – Sense Mantra (which felt really stiff; I own the Sense but want to use it in races only)

    – Asics Fuji Elite (too narrow in the midfoot for me)

    I'm looking for a shoe with a little more cushion for the longer training runs. Seems like I'll just have to stick to the MT10 for now and be patient. Any suggestion would be welcome!

    1. Andy

      I have been a devout lover of the 110 and now 1010, but have not found them to be sufficient cushion for over 50 miles. Have been pretty happy with the LS Helios. It's quite a bit more shoe than the others, but does have a light feel and a fairly roomy toebox (though not as roomy as the 1010)

        1. Andy

          great sticky rubber, even on wet rock, and I'd say traction is at least as good as the 110. But the tread pattern is not really lugged so not good in serious mud (though few shoes are).

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