New Balance MT110 Review

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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 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.

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.)

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 kicking it in the Wind River Mts in his MT110.

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

Guest Writer: a contributor to iRunFar.com.

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View Comments (87)

  • Seeing so many glowing reviews for this shoe, so long before it's available, is tough. I run almost exclusively in the Trail Glove, which required very precise foot placement on more violent trails. Especially for race purposes, it would be nice to have something - nearly as low - that would allow for more aggressive running.

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  • Extremely excited about the 110. I run almost exclusively in the 101 right now, with the Minimus Trail being my 2nd choice (typically for shorter runs) - so naturally I can't wait to get my feet into these. Sexy too! Thanks for the pics/info.

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  • Will this be offered in size 15?

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  • Great review, thanks Ty.

    Bryon, I have already expressed my opinion to you regarding the MT101. Great shoe; I loved it and completely wore out two pairs this summer. When I went to purchase a replacement pair two weeks ago I discovered that NB had stopped production (after less than a 9 month production run) and were no longer available. In the interim loyal NB customers can 1) wait until February 2012 for the 110 while running what is left of their 101’s or, 2) find another manufacturer that has a little more concern for their customers. Especially in light of the fact that NB has been telling the retailers there no need to carry a large inventory in the 101. In any case 101 users are out in the cold while we are seemingly left to comfort ourselves for the next 5 months with glowing reviews and more marketing hype about the 110. Thanks but no thanks; I am not going down the same road with the 110 as I did with the 100 and the 101. The NB marketing ploy of creating a market by prematurely ceasing production has become old with me. I found a great Inov-8 shoe that does everything the 101 does and more and based on Inov-8’s track record I am confident this shoe will be around for a while.

    Bartman

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  • Want.

    It's killing me that these reviews come out so many months before they're publicly available! I don't blame you, if I had these shoes I'd be talking about them too :)

    Just a question for the minimalist/flat shoe runners: how do you go down hills? I've heard a lot of people (including Kilian Jornet) say they go down on their heels but I've been staying on my midfoot. I wonder if there's a better way. Is there some technique to making sure your heels don't get to bashed up in the process?

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  • I've run in all 3 - 100, 101 and Minimus. The 100 was a good start and the Minimus doesn't feel like quite enough shoe while the 101 has been my go to shoe since it dropped. I'm looking forward to the new outsole and added protection to the Minimus last-built shoe.

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  • I liked the 101 but the upper was a bit thin and I had to heat-shape (hair dryer) the foam under my ankle bone to relieve a hot spot. Good that it can be formed at least. The rock protection was great and grip was good.

    So, I look forward to a possibly more structured upper. I hope the rock protection is still good.

    I like the last photo, since that's where I'd be running in them, at least some of the time :) I like the fact that I can buy mass-market shoes designed for my local trails!

    Adrian, I'm no racer, but I've run trails a while and run mid-foot. I'd try short quick midfoot strides with minimal braking downhill (just let your momentum carry you) and see how it suits you. It's more demanding to keep from tripping -- so take it easy at first -- but stresses the legs and feet less. Either way I think the key to downhill is minimal braking and fast turnover (adding up to minimal time touching the ground). Can't comment about heel striking.

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  • @bartman Not sure where you are trying to get your 101s, but runningwarehouse.com has them instock in every size for only $55 with not hint of discontinuation at this point. I'm not crazy about the 101s personally because of toebox shape and too much drop for me (although I had mine zeroed which helped).

    @Adrian I agree with mtnrunner2 keep the turnover high (actually higher than on flat or uphill) when going downhill and it is perfectly normal to land more mid-foot with some small amount of braking with the heel traction; a key too is to not resist the downhill but go with it (I've got a lot of work to do here). I will say the steeper the downhill the more your heel might engage in braking (not necessarily taking impact), but if it is that steep your speed should be lower anyway.

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  • I too have loved the 101's, and actually was disappointed when I heard about the 110 coming out. I'm thinking about snatching up as many pair as I can from runningwarehouse.com (where I got my first two pair). I've run everything in the 101's and saying they are my "go-to" shoe would be an understatement. GREAT shoe at a GREAT price! But, before long I'm sure I'll give the 110 a go, and see what happens. I've got a pair of Trail Minimus as well, but have only used those on shorter road runs. I just love the 101 too much to NOT use it on my trail runs.

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  • They're coming out with no colors, no? The current yellow/blue/blackish synthetic star trek themed thing isn't working for me.

    Overall I have worries about this shoe so far. The 101 had a more "organic" feel... it looks like a trail shoe. I'm not entirely sure if using input from the Minimus line is a good thing for this product line. Everyone loves the 101 already... just give it some more tread with stick rubber and make the inside of the shoe more comfy and that's it. I just hope I can still find the 101 because it's an amazing shoe given a couple needed improvements.

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  • @mtnrunner & @David Henry - Thanks, I'll give that a whirl after work with my Trail Gloves. If I am hitting the heels too hard, they'll let me know!

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  • Do they come in wide sizes?

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    • Great review, Ty. Tony, I've read elsewhere that the mt110 will indeed come in widths. [broken link removed]

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  • @bartman

    your statement about the 101s being out of production just isn't true. whoever your retailer is who is telling you that they are out of production probably didn't order enough of them when they had the opportunity and now there aren't many more for them to get. that is simply how the industry works. shoes are sampled and shown to retailers about 6 months in advance and based on the orders, then they go into production. also keep in mind that every shoe from every major company has a year shelf life before it gets updated and yes, changed in some ways (sometimes more drastically than others). a company such as inov8 is much smaller and may not have the resources to be updating their shoes on a yearly calendar schedule, so they will keep their models in line and available for retailers for a longer period of time. the challenge for them is to keep their retailers excited about a shoe that's been in their store for 2+ years when every other shoe in there is being updated. a retailers biggest fear is being stuck with stale product they can't move. it's sort of a prospecting game. that doesn't make new balance nor inov8 bad companies. they simply operate differently and will offer you product in different manners and on different timelines. it sounds like the manner and timeline of inov8 suits you better for now, but know that the 101 is good and stocked at many retailers, maybe just not your local one. check out runningwarehouse.com or shopnewbalance.com where there are plenty available in all sizes and where you will see the 101 go on sale as it gets closer to the release of the 110. if you love the 101 you better buy 'em all up!!

    just thought i'd clarify a bit of the behind the scenes for you of how it all works. you can't make sweeping statements about a company not supporting its customer base when it's just not true. once we find that perfect model of shoe that does everything we want, we want it forever, but the industry and subsequently consumer behavior have dictated it to work much differently. it's a business like any other business, and whether you like it or not, businesses don't grow and show profit by creating the same product year after year. if that were the case, we'd still all be driving model t's. in other words, as they say "don't hate the player, hate the game"....

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  • @Michael C

    the 110 will be available in two colorways for men and two for women. the second men's colorway is a silver and red that you may find even more "Trekky."

    to speak on the synthetic upper versus a more traditional mesh upper material, the shoe was initially prototyped in both a mesh upper and this new synthetic upper that they were considering. they sent both prototypes to many wear testers including Anton Krupicka and Erik Skaggs who were also skeptical of the synthetic upper, but after putting many miles on both prototypes, they all came back saying the synthetic upper was superior for various reasons. so they continued on with the synthetic upper. Anton says that this is hands down his most favorite shoe ever, and as we know, he's not the sort to make such a sweeping statement if he doesn't mean it, and this coming from one of the most "organic" runners out there.

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  • Waiting IMPATIENTLY for this shoe. Sounds perfect from what I've read. WANT. IT. NOW.

    @Adrian; Depends what you mean by minimalist; in my Minimus I'd have a really hard time landing on my heels unless it's a smooth, not-too-steep downhill. Anthing technical or steep and it's all on the forefoot. Usually in a shoe with a more substantial sole, I find myself using what I've heard referred to as a "proprioceptive" heel strike. There is a lot of heel-strike phobia right now, but I don't land with all my weight on my heel-the heel just touches the ground and helps me balance while the real weight comes down on the forefoot. I suspect that is what Kilian is referring to.

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  • Thanks for the review! I would be interested in knowing what shoe companies have for their life expectancy on some of their models. Granted their are many variables but for the crowd that runs frequently lets say, trails only, mixed rock, loose gravel, mountain passes, water crossings etc etc 60-80 miles per week, I think companies are NOT producing a durable shoe(s). That is MY opinion. I had a frustrating experience with Cascadia 6's (been wearing them since the they produced the 4's) less than 200 miles bottoms blown out. Durability of the 4's and 5's was excellent. It looks like this review also showed some significant wear on the shoe after 200 miles granted it was the Winds which I have been to twice, I think companies can do better across all brands.

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    • Tim, I completely agree with you. My older pairs of shoes, (several of which have well over 700 miles on each) still have traction on the soles, and the uppers are still holding together as well. Currently, I'm running in the Saucony Peregrines and Montrail Mtn Massochists and I get about 250 miles out of each before the outsole is really worn down and after 300-350 miles, they're done completely. Same for the Montrail Rockridge. The rest of the shoe seems fine (upper and midsole) but the outsoles aren't lasting very long and the shoes now cost 10-20% more than they used to. Hmmm... More $$ and less miles/life. Not good.

      Is it the softer and stickier rubber compounds they're using now that is wearing so quickly?

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  • @adrian, I don't know if this helps, but I try to almost sprint down, keeping my feet going at around 220 steps per minute. Also I was watching some videos of kilian jornet, when he wants to brake, this technique is excellent, he spins his arms backwards, countering the movement of body wanting to continue. Also he uses slaloming, where he goes back and forth across the trail, I think this works really well especially on wide single track that has huge slopes where you can just go back and forth.

    @ben, I think it may be the stickier midsoles. I us merrel trail gloves on the road, I ran about 300 miles on trails, about 30 miles on the road and the sole was already wearing down. If you're doing some of the stuff where you're mixing scrambles across scree and climbing up rocks, you're going to want a very sticky compound.

    I am really excited for this shoe, due to the fact it is a mix of the mt101, and the mt10 since those are my two favorite shoes. The thing I didn't like about the mt101 was then I go downhill with it, it isn't flexible enough to allow good downhill technic. Whereas with the mt10 going across scree, rocks would kill my feet.

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  • I work at Running Warehouse and can tell you that for now we do have plenty in stock of all colors and sizes of the 101. But what we have in stock will be all we have until the 110 comes out in January. New Balance is indeed out of stock so no others will be shipped after these are sold out. Shoenerd already gave an outline of the business works so I won't rehash things. The 101 has been a great shoe and a personal favorite of mine. I pushed NB to keep it in the line and add the 110, but they said the 110 is a superior shoe. I haven't had a chance to run in the 110 yet, but from what I've seen it isn't an update as much as an entirely new shoe. New last, new upper, new outsole, less of a drop. I think the 110 will gain some users who thought the 101 was too much shoe and will loose some who feel the 110 is too little shoe. I think both could have survived in the line, but I don't get to make those calls. All I know is I will be picking up a 2nd pair of the 101s before they are gone. At the same time I can't wait to get my pair of 110s and head out to the trails.

    Erik

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  • Like lots of other people it seems, I can hardly wait to try this shoe. I really like running in the Minimus Trail and they fit me perfectly, but the trails I run on have lots of small, sharp rocks and I have crushed my metatarsal (always the same one on the same foot!) enough times now that I have to admit that without any sort of rock plate the Minimus is just not a safe choice for me on many trails. I also really liked the MT-101, but after a couple of races in them I realized that something is just "off" with the shape of the toe box and I got some terrible blisters. I talked to other people who have the same problem with the MT-101. A shoes built on the MT-10 last, but with a little more protection sounds perfect.

    In the meantime I just got a pair of innov8 x-talon 190 and I have to say they feel just like a comfortable slipper, no blisters, and just enough cushion underfoot to run with confidence speed over the rocks and roots.

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  • Long time reader - first time poster. How would you compare the MT110's to the La Sportiva Vertical K's in terms of cushioning and foot protection?

    Dave in VA

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