New Balance Vazee Summit Review

New Balance released the Vazee Summit, a highly anticipated update to the MT110 series, to little fanfare this March, and for most trail and ultra runners it went completely unnoticed. What may have started as an update has now morphed into a completely new design for New Balance. The Vazee Summit was built as a great lightweight all arounder, capable of short and fast races on technical trails as well as ultra distance romps through varying terrain. Well, how did New Balance do? After a disappointing update in the MT110v2, it feels like New Balance threw the blueprint out the door and started with one of their most beloved road racing flats, the RC1400.

New Balance Vazee Summit

The New Balance Vazee Summit.

You may be questioning why any running shoe company would fashion their trail shoes on a racing flat last. But, lets look around at what people are wearing on the trails. Jim Walmsley, winner of seemingly everything he’s entered in the last year as well as the 2016 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, is regularly seen sporting Adidas Adios Boost 2s. Additionally, Tim Freriks finished second at Sonoma in the same shoe. David Roche battled the sloppy mud at Way Too Cool 50k this spring in Nike Lunaracers. The concept is simple; racing flats provide a lighweight, foot-hugging feel that provide just enough protection for most non-technical courses.

However, New Balance took this concept and added enough protection for any trail running surface while still keeping the fit and ride of RC1400. So, I will aim at detailing what I like about the Vazee Summit which, in my opinion, is finally New Balance’s redemption for the discontinued and much beloved MT110 (while being totally different).

Upper

When I first tried on the Vazee Summit I was unimpressed. The look and last of the shoe appeared narrow, and having never worn the RC1400, I was expecting a fit that was a bit snug for my liking. How incredibly wrong I was, and within several weeks the Vazee Summit went from being shelved after a disappointing 5-mile trail run to staying on my feet exclusively for nearly three weeks. Gradually, the open mesh upper conformed to my wide forefoot creating a great locked-down feeling that was perfect for steep downhills. New Balance also uses a gusseted tongue which is a bit remeniscint of Salomon’s Endofit system which provides a soft foot-hugging feel. This tongue, which is very stretchy, seems to decrease the need to tie the shoes tightly which would put pressure on the top of the foot, and New Balance uses simple flat laces that stay tied well.

New Balance Vazee Summit - lateral upper

The New Balance Vazee Summit’s lateral upper.

The entire upper is seamless and there are ample welded on overlays, especially around the rand of the shoe, which keep the upper from feeling flimsy. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised just how well the mesh kept dirt and dust from getting into the interior of the shoe while simultaneously draining quite well when wet. New Balance also incorporates what they call Internal Toe Protect which is a bit of a misnomer. Rather than placing a rubberized toe cap on the shoe, they simply beef up the welded overlays creating a more durable toe box that offers some protection and maintains its shape. Again, this is something we’ve seen in the Salomon S-Lab series shoes for the last several years.

Midsole

Initially, some reported that the Vazee Summit had an Acteva Lite midsole, a very firm but durable foam used for the original and reissue of the MT101. I was pleased to see that New Balance, in fact, used its more forgiving Revlite foam of which I am a huge fan. It seems to maintain its resiliency well and seems to provide me with enough cushioning, especially in the forefoot area where I seem to have problems during longer runs. Its an odd sensation, because initially the Vazee Sumit felt firm and unresponsive, but after several longer runs I almost felt like the shoe was getting more comfortable and cushioned, and I never felt sore on my forefoot the next day. It helps that New Balance employs a 3/4 rock plate that retains its flexibility underneath a nicely lugged outsole.

New Balance Vazee Summit - medial upper

The New Balance Vazee Summit’s medial upper.

A 10mm drop in the outsole initially warranted reservation, but this shoe really runs like a 6mm drop. I have no idea or hypothesis as to why that is, but I never feel like my heel is elevated or at risk of rolling an ankle. It also doesn’t feel like any transition for me to wear a 4mm drop shoe one day and, then, transition into the Vazee Summit the next.

Outsole

New Balance uses a rubber technology developed almost a decade ago for their water shoes for increased traction in wet conditions on the Vazee Summit. Now, this Hydro-hesion rubber has been redeveloped for increased durability, and the updated version works well on all surfaces and also seems highly durable. After about 120 trail miles on my Vazee Summits the outsole lugs show no wear whatsoever. The basic outsole lug pattern is very effective and the 4.5mm lugs dig into just about any surface, and they’re large enough to shed mud as effectively as anything other lug pattern on the market.

New Balance Vazee Summit - outsole

The New Balance Vazee Summit’s outsole.

Overall Impressions

Bryon Powell ran the entire 2015 Hardrock 100 in a pair of New Balance RC1400v3s. Again, that’s 100 miles on some of the most technical terrain in the United States, in a pair of 6.5-ounce racing flats without any lugs. What I took away from his experience is that you have to run and race in what feels good on your feet. I think that we all long for a shoe that will alleviate the bone shattered tenderness that is the result of a well run ultra, but your feet are going to be in rough shape after 100 miles regardless. I start every season obsessing about forefoot cushioning, toe box room, and just about every other aspect of shoe construction. However, I end each ultra season running in what feels good on my feet, and the New Balance Vazee Summit fits my feet exceptionally well. This is a very simple, and well made trail shoe, and the Revlite midsole and rockplate give me enough protection to enjoy twenty miles on the trails without having to think about anything else other than being in the mountains. At about 9.3 oz for my size 10 US, the Vazee Summit is a great all around trail shoe that I encourage every runner to try on. It handles fast paces just as well as easy slogs, and the ride and transition is just as smooth on the road as it is on technical trails.

My question going forward is whether or not the Vazee Summit can handle 50-100 mile distances? I aim to answer that question at this year’s San Juan Solstice, but in the meantime I’d love to hear your feedback and what your experiences are in this shoe.

New Balance 1400v3 - Bryon Powell - 2015 Hardrock 100

Bryon’s New Balance 1400v3 upon completing Hardrock ’15.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re leaving a comment regarding a product made by a company with which you’re affiliated (employee, ambassador, etc.), please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

Tom Caughlan

is iRunFar's Minimalist Gear Editor. Tom’s passion for trail running and specialty running retail experience shine through in all of his highly technical reviews, which do range outside minimalist shoes.

There are 59 comments

  1. MF

    Ran in a pair of these at the Bear Mountain 50k having never run in them before and they preformed super well. I agree that the drop doesn’t feel liek 10mm but I think the shoe would move into the perfect category if they made the drop 4-6mm (by increasing the cushion in the toe box. The toe bumper worked wonders, that was the game changer in this shoe for me.

    1. Tom

      MF-
      As always, I would love more forefoot cushioning. But, I am surprised at how much there is already. Usually with a 10mm drop and this sort of stack height (27mm to 17mm) I’m usually sore in the forefoot after a long run. Maybe its the lugs plus the rockplate but I’m feeling like this is adequate, and usually I’m more in your camp.

        1. dominic grossman

          I think the shoe is distinct in it’s drop in that it lets you run forefoot a little more aggressively, but I know more ultrarunners are heel and midfoot runners. The NBtrailtech can chime in, changing the drop on a last is never a simple or easy thing with regards to fit. Imagine jacking up the front of your house a few feet, and that’s basically what happens in a shoe, complete chaos. An example of this is the 110v2 which tried to use a 4mm drop of the 890 last.

    2. Akira Y.

      Keep in mind, some of us still like the higher drop, or more accurately our achilles can’t take the stress of lower to zero drop shoes. I realize one can transition but my physiology seems to make me predisposed to higher drop shoes. I am just pointing this out to remind you since it’s getting harder and harder to find good 8-12 mm drop shoes (and I am sick of getting lectured about transitioning).

  2. Bryon Powell

    Of all the trail shoes I have, I’ve probably worn the Vazee Summit the second most over the past 10+ months. It’s a solid shoe that does well enough on rugged terrain, groomed trail, and roads. It’s light and sculpted enough to feel nimble. The Vazee Summit was sitting next to my bed on Hardrock morning last July, when I made the last-minute decision go with the 1400v3s as they were my go-to all year and drained slightly better on what was to be a very wet course. They’re easily my go-to luggy shoe these days.

    I would add that while I’m a size 9 in just about everything, including the 1400-series racing flats, I fit better in the 9.5 Vazee Summits. Tom, you also went a half size up, right?

    1. Tom

      To be honest, I’ve moved up to a size 10 in almost all shoes now. So, for me, these fit true to size as I like a bit extra toe room.

        1. Tom

          Which is interesting, because I haven’t even been able to run in the Bajada 2 due to the narrow forefoot just killing my pinky toes. To each their own!

          1. Bryon Powell

            Hmmmm… I never had the slightest problem with that in the Bajada (or Bajada 2)! For me, it’s a great any day or recovery day shoe. It’s also comfy enough to pull both running and casual duty on my many travels.

      1. Bryon Powell

        Second best shoe I’ve ever worn… next to the 1400v3. I’d take a pair of 1400v4 any day, but if I had both the v3 and v4 in front of me, I’d take the v3, as the v3 is nearly an ounce lighter, has noticeably fewer upper overlays (meaning better drainage and breathability), and has a less structured heel. I’m not sure what the v4 product team was thinking making a racing flat heavier… especially, when a single pair of 1400v3 had enough structure for me (a non-minimalist) at Hardrock and the same goes for 125-miles of cross-country travel at the Ultra-Trail Gobi Race.

        Still, overall, the 1400v4 is a great shoe. The upper is super comfortable as is the underfoot ride. I’d just prefer the v3 on race day… I don’t think the differences are enough to matter in training. That said, I plan to buy some pairs of the v3 tonight.

        1. Dominic Grossman

          There’s a tad bit more rubber and foam used on the v4, but for runners with tough feet like Bryon, it’s not noticeable!

  3. Mark

    I ran 16 miles on my first time out in these bad boys and had no issues whatsoever. What I love about New Balance is they get that everyone doesn’t have the same shaped foot. The 9.5 2E hugged me in all the right places without scrunching my wide forefoot like a lot of shoes do. To me, this shoe feels more like a soccer or football turf cleat (but with a rock plate) which is perfect for technical trails that are just asking to be ripped through. This is now my go to shoe and plan on buying multiple pairs for fear they will discontinue/ change too quickly. The fiery orange is flashy and awesome while the black is stealthy and just blah.

    1. Dominic Grossman

      Fear not, the v2 isn’t going to change drastically (NB is looking to be more consistent with good shoes). Glad you like them!

    2. Akira Y.

      So, do you think the wider shoes are just wider in the toebox? I like the extra width but don’t want to give up the locked down feel in the forefoot. I noticed the sleeve and that makes it all the more appealing. I really like to lock down the midfoot (but not induce lace pain on the top of my feet) but also have that ice toe splay. Thoughts? Oh, I probably have a E width foot that short and fat so sometimes D width shoes work, esp. lately since most makers have been widening the forefeet in their shoes, but other times I need the 2E.

  4. Eric

    There have been two boxes sitting in my house for the past week. Inside one is a pair of Vazee Summits, inside the other is another pair of Terra Kiger 3s, which are currently my absolute favorite shoe to run in. The budget says I can keep one. The Kigers have a fantastically wide and comfortable forefoot, but although they hold my foot pretty well, I slide around a bit more than I’d like in the technical terrain I’ve been spending a lot of time in lately. The Vazee locks my foot down like no other shoe in my rotation, but the toebox is a lot tighter than I’m used to these days. I won’t know if that’s a problem unless I put some miles on them.

    I just can’t make up my mind. First world problems for sure.

    1. Tom

      Haha! I love both of those shoes. My only feedback is that my forefoot is a lot less beat up in the Vazee’s vs the Kiger 3s. I’m also feeling more locked down on techy stuff in the Vazees. I love the Kiger, but this shoe may have usurped it in the rotation.

      1. Eric

        Based on your comment, I ran in the Vazees this weekend. I liked almost everything about them except one thing–I felt like my foot was being held in place with nothing more than a couple of rubber bands on the descent. On steep, technical terrain, I was sliding off the sole with every single step, and by the time I finished the run I kind of hated the shoes. My foot slides in the Kiger 3, because I’m between sizes and my shoes are a bit too big. My foot slides A LOT more in the Vazee, and it does so because of the elastic design of the uppers.

        After two runs (I took them out again this morning), I’d say the Vazee is a little better than the Kiger in traction and price and much better in having-a-rockplate-ness, but the Kiger is better everywhere else.

        I’m also curious about your comment about your forefoot feeling less beat up in the Vazee. To me, the Kiger feels much more cushioned and protective, even without a rockplate. Subjective differences, I guess.

        1. Tom

          Eric-
          To each their own. I put in 34 miles this weekend on steep terrain in the Vazee and again I was impressed by how good my forefoot feels and the lack of sliding. For reference, I wear Drymax Lite Trail socks most of the time, but when I wear wool (swiftwick pursuit, or smartwool PhD) I get some more sliding.
          I loved the kiger 3, but after a pretty rocky 50k in Utah in April my feet said enough. They’re both great shoes, and I hope that I didn’t cause you to spend more money.

          1. Eric

            You didn’t cause me to do anything–you just gave me an excuse for new shoes :)

            To be fair, I’ll get plenty of use out of the Vazees, it just won’t be on technical trails. But for the slipping, they’d be nearly perfect.

            1. Dominic Grossman

              Going with a racing last, we knew not everyone would be pleased, but there are widths available, and in some of our wider models, I have worn the women’s 1.5 sizes bigger. The upper is looking to get snugger on the v2

    2. Dominic Grossman

      Hopefully you’re ready for another first world problem, NB is releasing the Fresh Foam Gobi in July, which is a Zante V2 with a trail outsole. It’s more similar to a Kiger, but a bit cheaper and simpler.

      1. Tom

        Well, hot damn. I really like the Zante, so I’ll be looking forward to this. Is this just another “Bryon Powell” special aimed precisely at his specs for the Gobi race :)

      2. Brian

        Dominic,
        I see you have put some trail miles on the Gobi. What are your initial thoughts, single track terrain.
        Brian

  5. AP

    I have been a longtime fan of the 101s for trail and 1400s on the road. I just discovered the summit this week and it runs like a pair of 1400s with teeth. I’d call them true to size as I wear the same size in the NB as I do in my Sauconys. I didn’t realize how much I was sliding and slipping in the 101s until I ran in the Summits, especially on the downhill. Now I’m torn over which shoe to race in this weekend!

  6. JVK

    I have a couple pairs of NB Zero V2’s that I just love but I have exhausted all the 9.5’s that I can find on the internet…. I need a new shoe for this season and the Summit looks very appealing but the 10mm scares me off. I like somewhere between 0 and 4(maybe 5-6mm if I have to). Is the 10mm on the Summit really that noticeable?

    1. adam

      drop is so contingent on other features of shoe design, imo, as to be a virtually useless number by itself. in the case of the 1400/VS, the overall platform is so low to the ground, and the soft heel easily compresses to be level with the firm forefoot when weighted, that the shoe feels virtually flat while in motion. the key feature of the ride is that firm forefoot/soft heal dichotomy…whether you love 1400s/VS or hate them depends largely on whether that works for you or not. the overall feeling of the VS is of a light, agile shoe…again, the overall platform is so low, that i can’t imagine “tipping” or ankle turning being an issue at all. also, at just under 9 oz, this is one of the lightest “real” trail shoes on the market.

      1. Dominic Grossman

        Drop is a relative thing to fit, but if you feel like the heel is too large, I have personally drilled holes in midsoles or trim back the heel to get material to compress to what I want. I think overall for what you get: a snug fit, a rockplate, and a grippy outsole for 100$, they are worth a try.

  7. Nrmrvrk

    I liked the MT101s. The toe box was a bit narrow for me but otherwise great. The MT110 (The original Krupicka/Skaggs shoe) was one of my favorite shoes ever. Wore three pair of those out completely, wish I could buy 5 more.

    Tom/Bryon/anyone who’s run them, how does the Vazee compare to the old 101/110? Like other commenters, the 10mm drop doesn’t sound encouraging to me. I’ve been happiest with shoes that have 6mm or less.

    Thanks for the review.

    1. Tom

      I actually still have a pair of MT110s that I keep just for comparison’s sake. The fit is not dissimilar, although I still love the more foot shaped toebox of the N1 last on the MT110s. The Vazee Summit does conform to your foot though after a few runs and has the same locked down midfoot feel.
      The Vazee definitely feels more protective with more cushioning (and a little weight) and the lugging is nice. To be honest, I thought the Vazee had a 6mm drop until I started writing the review. You don’t feel the 10mm.
      The biggest difference for me, is that at age 37 and after running my whole life, my feet can’t wear a shoe like the MT110 for 50k to 50 miles anymore. With the Vazee Summit I think I can.

      1. George

        Bryon mentioned before that the Vazee Summit is going to replace the reissued MT 101, but that shoe is still featured on the New Balance website and is widely available for purchase (for half the price as the Vazee Summit). Is that your understanding as well? Just wondering if I should worry about stocking up on my favorite shoe of all time.

        1. Brad Williams

          Hey George,

          I work and at running store and I have asked our NB rep that exact question. While NB isn’t exactly saying the Vazee is a replacement of the shoe the 101 is a one time limited reissue. So once this batch of shoes are gone, it’s gone. The question is how many did they produce? Like you said I think you’ll be able to scoop pairs up for awhile at a really cheap price too.

          1. Dominic Grossman

            Though there were multiple iterations of minimalist shoes available in the heyday of Born to Run (mt10, 101, 1010, 110), NB has had to become more precise with what it releases. The Summit is the “trail racer” and the minimus trail is the “trail minimalist”, with the 101 being a one-time re-release.

            That said, if you liked the 110v1, there are a lot of similarities in the Summit, and as you break them in and modify them as you wish (heel trimming, drilling holes in the heel midsole, etc), they perform exceptionally well in almost any terrain. That said, there is more grip and the foot is placed in more of a foot foot position, so out of the box, they might feel different.

            1. George

              Thanks for the info. I have tried all of these shoes, but haven’t liked any as much as the 101 (or the 1400). I agree with Tom that the 110 was not a great ultra-distance shoe, and did not like how it felt on roads or steep downhills. On the other hand, the 101 has been great for me on both short and long trail runs (up to 50 miles), and on the roads (my runs are usually a mix of surfaces). I’ll certainly give the Summit a try, but would prefer to see the 101 stick around too!

  8. J. Hooker

    I… love… this…shoe.

    My theory on why the 10mm drop feels more like a 4-6mm, is because of how squishy (not bad kind of squishy) the mid foam is. When and if you heel strike or catch a rock with the rear of the shoe, it conforms to the terrain better than say, speedcross 3 with its harder heel. Not that I’m comparing the speedcross with the summit.

    I’ll likely swap the insole out with my insole from an old pair of rc1400. The one in there seems like it’s going to start moving around soon. I tried an ortholite one from the speedcross, but it’s way too thick.

    1. Bryon Powell

      I’m a long time 1400 wearer and have a decent number of miles in an early pair of Vazee Summits. Can’t say I’ve ever had an issue with the insole of the latter moving at all, and that’s with most of my miles in the VS coming around the Hardrock course or the steeper terrain above my place in Moab.

      1. adam

        Hey Bryan! I’m also a huge 1400 fan…I haven’t tried the v4 yet, but my impression was the weight gain came from slightly more midsole stack+overlays+outsole rubber, and I was hoping these would enhance durability and protection, especially on on trail. I love the v3, but the unreinforced upper lacks the durability I want in an everyday training shoe, and the forefoot seems it would be a touch thin on rocks, especially with the minimal outsole. Does the “beefier” v4 not address these issues? Like you, I’m convinced that a good marathon “flat” is adequate for the majority of trail conditions.

        1. Bryon Powell

          Adam,
          “My impression was the weight gain came from slightly more midsole stack+overlays+outsole rubber, and I was hoping these would enhance durability and protection.” All that might be true, but those aren’t things that I’d want to a road flat… and even a road flat I want on the trail.

          I never had an issue with upper wear in the 1400v1 or v3 (there were scenarios when it could be an issue in the v2). That’s getting up to 500 miles in a pair, wearing them at Hardrock or the cross-country Ultra-Trail Gobi Race, etc. Yeah, something might scuff, but I never had a single blowout. The midsole inevitably went before the upper.

          Road or trails, I don’t need more midsole cushion than the v3. On really rocky terrain, I throw in half an Altra StoneGuard in the forefoot below the sockliner. I get a more protective shoe when I want it and a lighter shoe when I want it. I’m guessing I’d still want to pull the StoneGuard trick in the v4 on the rockiest of terrain, but we’ll see.

          The beefier toe area may save me a f*cked up toe or two over the course of the year, but in combination with the rest of the changes, I still give an edge to the v3. That said, the 1400v4 are still the second best model of running shoe I’ve ever worn. I’m splitting hairs between two great models.

          1. adam

            thanks Bryon…I inevitably blowout any un-reinforced upper in the lateral forefoot before the cushioning goes, the result of my foot shape and a running style that places a ton of stress on the lateral forefoot…cush pancakes out in that area and the outsole wears down as well. people complained about the v2 upper, but it was much more durable ime. I recently ran the best race of my life in the v3, a 10k with a ton of vert on groomed fire roads, so I’m a huge fan and would love to make 1400s work for daily training on and off the trail.

            1. Bryon Powell

              For me, the v2 was easily the least durable up of the four versions, although I guess that’s mostly conjecture for the v4.

              I’m writing to say that I ran the reasonably rocky Jemez Mountain 50 Miler in the 1400v4 without rockplates (had ’em in my drop bag at the mile 18 and 38, just in case) and had absolutely no issue underfoot. It’s too early to tell, but it’s got me thinking I might be able to wear the v4 without rockplate for a race like Hardrock.

    2. Dominic Grossman

      I think the article I wrote on drop a while back on this site might have also missed one point about fit. When you’re in a shoe that fits well, there’s less of a disjunct mentally about where the shoe begins and your foot ends. I agree, I don’t feel much of a high heel getting in the way on technical terrain compared to running in 4mm drop shoes, I just feel my foot running quickly.

      1. adam

        agree completely. drop is next to useless to me in and of itself. the 1400/VS is so low and agile overall that while there might be a “big” (although a lot of people seem to forget that 2 mm is the thickness of a nickle) difference between forefoot and heel stack, it’s not noticible the way the big inflated heel on a a shoe like the Pegasus.

  9. Rachel

    Thanks for the awesome review. I’d love to know how you think these stack up against the Saucony Peregrine 6. I’m currently training for Transrockies and I’m torn between the two. Further complicating my choice, I live in NYC so many of my runs have a road component to them, if only to reach the trail. I do my road racing in the NB 1400s (and LOVE them), which makes the Vazee Summits appealing.

    1. Loubrenner

      My 2 cent.
      SP6 is a softer, more protective ride with more traction as well. The upper of the SP6 is thicker without elasticity. The last is much roomier with wider and taller dimensions. Also, SP6 is a true 4mm drop.

      I personally prefer the SP6, mostly because of the drop and larger last. I wish the SP6 upper was the upper of the Summitt.

    2. Bryon Powell

      Might I add, since you’re already a 1400 wearer, through a pair in your duffel bag for TransRockies. Having run the race (and knowing the local terrain should the exact course be different), there are some stages that you might get away with wearing them. It is still a good idea to have a true trail shoe with you. :-)

  10. Ryan

    Having first fallen in love with the MT110v1’s like everyone else, then promptly wearing out my last pair, I’ve been searching for the perfect replacement. The NB Trail Zero v2 felt great, but drainage was horrible. I recently broke down and spent the extra money for the SLab Sense Ultra 5 which has the same snug feel and quick drainage as the 110v1 but seems to fall short on the sticky grip of the initial 110’s. I was thinking about picking up the Sense 5 Soft Grounds for more technical terrain until this review. My question, how does the drainage compare to the 110v1’s? Tom, you said it drains “quite well”. How does it compare to the sense 5 in that respect?

    BTW, we’re all total dorks for getting so in depth with our shoe decisions. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  11. Rob Bond

    I own two pairs of Vazee Summits and have done 3 runs of 50k+ with them. I really like this shoe.

    I have done all my road racing in 1400v3 for years so I was very excited to hear that they brought the feel and foam to some faster trail shoes.

    I love the fit of the tongue. It reminds me of the water shoes I wore as a kid. The lugs have held up well and I haven’t noticed any issues with grip or the strike plate.

    I usually buy size 13 for my 1400s, so I initially bought 13s in the Summits. After a few toe-slamming descents on one of my runs, I bought a second pair in size 14s.

    I will be wearing them in a 50 miler in two weeks so we will see how they hold up over 35+ miles. My experiences in them so far, however, make them an easy choice for the race.

  12. Todd

    I’ve got a related question for your Bryon … Given you wore 1400’s at Hardrock, and you mentioned part of the reason was because it was going to be wet, what are the conditions under which you would actually wear a true trail shoe *in a race*. I just started wearing road shoes more on the trails, and am super curious about your experience and 2 cents.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Interesting question, Todd. At this point, the New Balance 1400s are my go to shoe for all trail races. I think I’ve worn them in every trail race I’ve run since the start of 2015: Hong Kong 100k, Moab Red Hot33k, Hardrock, Ultra-Trail Gobi Race, Yading Skyrace, Jemez 50 Mile. The reasons I go with this shoes are primarily that they work really well with my feet and stride. I’m also really light and nimble on my feet on them, such that I can even navigate to avoid rocks at the end of Hardrock or UTGR. They’re also great at shedding water, weather from sweat or external sources. I have a forefoot rockplate that I use for more burly runs, but I’ve yet to need them in the new 1400v4 (including Jemez and lots of Hardrock training in the San Juans).

      So when would I wear a trail shoe in a race? Surely a British fell race on a rainy day! ;-) If it’s really dry in the few weeks before Hardrock, I might wear the Vazee Summits to give me a hair more grip with tiny loose gravel on steep, hard-packed trail. On the otherwise, if it’s like to rain much of the race, I might wear the VS. Why? Because any shoes would be wet and there’s a difference in having frequent section that get your feet wet (only intermittent slipperiness) and having the whole course be wet (looooots of slipperiness). Just like last year, I’ll have my Vazee Summits ready throughout the race.

      Oh, I’d also change to an easy riding trail shoe in a race if my feet or lower legs were really beat to hell. At this point, the Montrail Bajada II will that role for me. Solidly built, yet reasonably light with a smooth ride.

      I hope that helps!

  13. Sam

    i have put about 50 miles of trail on the NB Summit Trail Shoe so far, and from mile 1 the fit was good and comfortable. On particularly rocky trails, my feet begin aching after about 6-7 miles, but the first 5 miles are always very pleasant. These shoes breathe very well

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