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"Barefoot" Footwear

New Balance Minimus Trail Zero Review

New Balance Minimus Trail Zero Review

By Tina Dubois


Review of the NB Minimus Trail Zero – An Impressive Addition to the NB Minimus Line
I am pleasantly surprised at how much I’ve been enjoying the New Balance (NB) Minimus Trail Zero. This is the first product offered by one of the big brand shoe companies that I have reviewed that I would whole-heartedly recommend as a truly functional minimalist shoe by Living Barefoot standards (which are pretty rigorous standards, I must admit). The new Minimus Trail Zero is a true minimalist running shoe that I enjoy for road and light trail use.

The shape of this shoe is incredibly comfortable. Although at first glance it may not look like a foot-shaped designed shoe, I find that it hugs my foot in all the right places with no uncomfortable pinching, squishing, or rubbing. The space-aged materials in the two-piece upper are designed with minimal seams in mind, the only one is where the tongue attaches to the inside of the shoe and it is in a place completely unobtrusive to the natural movement of my foot. The upper material isn’t exactly soft against the skin so I prefer to wear socks and am quite comfortable running in them this way without any blisters to this point.

The toe box and forefoot area is more than wide enough to accommodate my feet. The area around the midfoot and arch is also wide enough for my feet but if your feet were wider than mine, I can see how the edge of the outsole under the arch may be a problem. The circular outsole pattern is not an issue for me as my arches are high enough and/or narrow enough in the area to not fall over the edge of the outsole. If your feet are wider than this area, the outsole edge could potentially dig into your arch.

The outsole is an impressive innovation in a minimalist shoe, or any shoe for that matter. The black circles I can only assume at this point are EVA, as the official NB website for this model is not online at the point of writing this review, and the white circles are an overlay of Vibram rubber for added durability in high-wear areas. The design is zero drop and accommodates a uniform outsole thickness across the length of the shoe. The currently available website with information on the Minimus Trail Zero (MT00) writes that this model has a 13 mm stack height, which seems high in terms of numbers, but I can assure you there is plenty of ground feel due to the extreme flexibility of the outsole.

The circular web-like design of the outsole makes for fantastic flexibility. It is less flexible where the white Vibram rubber is but not overly noticeable and rather welcome on rough, uneven terrain. Each ‘pod’ moves independently due to the web-like design between and connecting the pods. 

Each size 8 women’s Minimus Trail Zero weighs 3.5 ounces or 100 grams. This is practically unbelievable in a trail shoe and half the weight of many other minimalist shoes in this category. New Balance went above and beyond lightweight when making this model.

Support / Insole
There is no support designed in the shoe and yet the choice of materials allows the shoe to keep its shape very well. There is no insole included in the shoe but the footbed is the softest part of the whole shoe.

Barefoot Feel
Ground feel is fantastic in these shoes. The independent movement of the circular pods in the outsole allows you to feel the smallest contour changes in the ground. Rocks and roots are easily felt and the shoe bends around them naturally.

These have great grip for the road but not so great for trail. I’ve enjoyed running in these on light trails of shale and dirt but more substantial gravel, rocky, or mountainous trails are beyond the scope of these shoes. There are no lugs to speak of so mud or slick conditions are out of the question.

The upper is made of an “unlined mesh and an ultrathin, laser cut, fully-welded overlay” which easily allows air to pass through wherever there is only mesh. There is so much air flow that it hardly feels like you’re wearing a shoe at all.

Quality of Materials / Manufacturing
The quality of the materials seems outstanding and kind of futuristic. In terms of the quality of manufacturing, there are a few places where the glue is visible at the interface between the outsole and the upper but this is simply esthetic. There are no structural flaws in the review pair.

Water Resistance
Just as air easily passes through the mesh, so does water. These are not water resistant shoes and your feet will get wet with the slightest drizzle or puddle.

The Minimus Trail Zero fit true to size. I generally fit a size 8 women’s and the size 8 review pair fit me perfectly in length and width.

At $110 USD, the WT00 is priced well for a running shoe, whether it be for road or trail. If the shoe works well for you, it is definitely a good value.

These are definitely eye-catching shoes and not just due to the bright orange colour, although that is definitely a predominant feature. The design and materials used in this shoe are unlike anything currently on the market and it is these futuristic features that make this shoe stand out in the crowd. I think this shoe will appeal to those who like conventional shoe design as well as minimalist shoe fans alike.

Break-in Period
There is no break-in period required for this shoe. If it is not comfortable the moment you put them on, they are likely not the right size or shape for your feet.

Shoe care
I wouldn’t recommend throwing these in the washing machine but a scrub in the sink is probably all you need to get them clean.

The Minimus Trail Zero is an excellent addition to the Minimus line although I wouldn’t recommend them for extreme trail terrains. There is also very little in the way of foot protection offered by the lightweight material; stubbing a toe on a rock or root is really going to hurt. Light trail including grass and dirt where exceptional grip is not an issue are suitable terrains for the lack of lugs in this model. I particularly enjoy these for road running despite the fact this is not what they were designed for.

The Minimus Trail Zero is the best minimalist shoe NB has made to date and the best model so far of the big brand shoe companies’ forays into minimalist shoe design. I doubt this level of greatness could have been reached without the lessons learned from their original Minimus models released in previous seasons. The Minimus Trail Zero is beyond lightweight, exceptionally wide, fantastically flexible with great ground feel. The futuristic style and materials make for an eye-catching shoe. Although perhaps not well suited for extreme trail terrain, they work well on light trail and incredibly well on road. NB has reset the bar for minimalist running shoes and I can only hope the other big brand shoe companies take note and follow suit. Congratulations New Balance!


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As you read our reviews, please keep in mind that our reviewers review shoes in terms of their suitability for those looking to find the highest quality minimalist shoe products. All reviews are as factual as possible. In an effort to be transparent and ethical, we will point out any defects found, even if these do not affect the usability of the product. Not all defects will be present in final production shoes as we are sometimes offered “seconds” or pre-release products in an effort to provide you with reviews in a timely manor. In the event that serious issues are found with a review sample we will give every opportunity for the manufacturer to replace to explain the review samples before the final review is released. We never accept payments for reviews. We do not guarantee a good review for any products sent to us. We do not review products that do not claim to be minimalist or “barefoot like” unless we receive a significant number of requests from readers or listeners.

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5 comments for “New Balance Minimus Trail Zero Review”

  1. Thanks for the review!

    My wife and I have been doing some serious hiking (with rocks, mud, bushwhacking off trail) in Vibram FiveFingers KSO Trek and Trek Sport shoes, and I have been surprised how doable this is, but I keep thinking of getting a minimalist monotoed shoe, for colder conditions. I have to admit your review makes me wonder whether the Trail Zero is maybe too flimsy; I’m going to have to check these out at the local New Balance store to see for myself.

    Posted by Franklin Chen | March 14, 2012, 01:25
  2. Unfortunately I have to disagree. I have anxiously anticipated the release of the minimus zero line, hoping New Balance would make some much needed improvements on last years models. Sadly, I’ve been disappointed. That is not to say that they aren’t miles ahead of traditional running shoes, and some of the better options out there, but for me, they leave much to be desired.

    The sole of the roads are just too narrow. My foot is a little wider than average but it hangs over the edge of the sole, especially at the midfoot. The upper of the road is almost there; it is a huge improvement from the MR10′s but once again, unless you have the right kind of foot for it, the structural support is bound to give many people issues with rubbing. I had problems where it crossed my big toe. The best upper I’ve seen on a NB shoe so far is on the 730.

    The trail would be great with a better upper. As it is, it looks like they used material from a tent to make the shoe. Granted, it is very lightweight, but very uncomfortable, especially as it folds where the foot bends. I would have been far more satisfied had they simply put the upper form the MT10′s on the sole of the MT00′s (sans forefoot band of course).

    I really want to love the minimus line, and maybe I just have unconventional feet, but it seems like they keep getting excitingly close to a great shoe and then absolutely miss the mark on one or two details. Maybe they’re just overcomplicating what should be a very simple shoe design. In any case, I’ll just have to keep waiting.

    Posted by Jared | March 23, 2012, 11:13
  3. OK so I went and got them with an Amazon Mayday discount. Good and bad. I love the look of them, they fit neatly, good enough grip (not as good as Vivos but better than them for trail / road combo). But after a 10k trail race the top of the sole has worn a hole in my instep, with socks on. I don’t know what to do about this, whether it’s a one off event or if the shoes are unwearable. Will see when it heals.

    I’m a woman wearing men’s size 8.5UK. I would say no way could any man with wide feet should go near the standard size (which is all there is available in UK anyway) and approach with caution if you want to go sockless, Jared is right the upper material is weird and I find the inside of the tongue needs careful arranging, oh and they are quite hard to put on, much foot wiggling. I much prefer the road version.

    Franklin if you come back get Vivo Neo Trail, their lugs are peerless.

    Posted by kath | May 14, 2012, 20:18
  4. I have to agree here with some of the comments. I bought the trail zeros a couple of months ago as a companion to my vibram treksports and they work great on dirt but are completely unforgiving on the rocks. I cut my feet up when I had to run along a gravel road to get to the trail.

    I do love how light they are and the curve suits the structure of my toes but I think New Balance should explain they arent suitable for rocky terrain so people know they’re only for moderate trails.

    Also when i run they fold over, like you said Franklin but for me this was uncomfortable. That being said though don’t turned off these shoes but get an alternative for heavy duty work.

    These shoes helped me to stand tall when I run and I improved my best 3km time by thirty seconds in four weeks because they felt so good and i ran more efficiently (this run was on dirt, and grass).

    I like the look of the whole New Balance minimus line, so if you want to look good; dont go past the wellness 4mm offset shoes, you’ll definitely stand out!

    Posted by Flora | May 15, 2012, 10:35
  5. Well, we now pay over a $100 for slippers. But they look really cool.

    Posted by Mark | May 20, 2012, 13:44

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