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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.)
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?