I’m excited to be writing my first review on the updated New Balance MT110 as the previous (Black) version was one of my favorite ever running shoes.
The MT 110 was developed in conjunction with New Balance mountain – ultra runner Anton Krupicka as a shoe that would be protective enough to handle technical and challenging terrain whilst maintaining minimal cushioning and an anatomic shape. It became hugely popular in the US and could be purchased for very reasonable prices here in the UK.
I loved the original MT 110 because it provided just the right amount of protection for all but the most rocky terrain whilst still being light, fast and low to the ground. For me, the 4mm drop is a perfect compromise between keeping the shoe flat-ish whilst providing a little bit of forgiveness for longer runs and steep terrain.
To give this review some context, I should point out that I’ve been using minimalist / barefoot shoes for a couple of years and for me the MT110 is quite protective. However,it is still pretty minimal when compared to a ‘conventional’ shoe and a transitional period would be required for those who are new to shoes of this type
First off there is the colour, which as you will see is now black and light gray with bright green laces. I wasn’t completely sure about whether I liked this or not to start with but I think it’s growing on me now.
The main difference between the update and the first version is a change to the construction of the sole. The first version was criticised by many users as it has a raised edge on the lateral side of the sole which meant that it was about 2-3mm higher than the medial side – it slanted from the outside to the inside of the shoe. Some reported that this lead to discomfort and injuries due to excessive pronation. I could feel the slanted sole when standing and it never caused me any problems but it was a big enough issue for New Balance to ditch this feature for the update. You can just about see the raised lateral edge on the old version of the 110 in the image below (right)
I find that this shoe fits the shape of my foot better than any other that I own, including other NB models that are built on the same last and i think that this is the main reason it has become a real favorite of mine. The toe box isn’t especially roomy for a minimal shoe but I find that a snug fit is helpful for technical or mountainous terrain so I consider this a positive feature.
In my opinion, there are still a few small niggles which prevent this shoe from being perfect:
The shoe is lined with a mesh-like material which is excellent for allowing the foot to breath, it dries very well and has no protruding seams to rub on your feet if you don’t wear socks. However, due to the perforations in the plastic outer, the shoe can easily become infested with small stones and this can become really rather irritating – Especially if you tread in a gritty puddle. Most of the time I just grin and bear it but I have found that it can cause minor abrasions when the shoes are worn sock-less. You can see the liner in the picture above.
If you refer back to the picture of the outsole above, you can see that there is a patch in the mid-foot that is not protected and has exposed EVA foam (grey section). This gets bashed up pretty quickly, which isn’t a problem in itself but it does mean that this section of the foot is not very well protected from rocks, especially seeing as the rock plate does not extend to this area. I suspect that it was designed this way to provide additional flexibility and save weight but I’ve hurt myself quite a few times when rocks have poked me in this area.
The outsole itself is fine in dry or slightly soft conditions but it is not suitable for use in the type of deep mud and clay that we regularly encounter in the UK winter. This is a common trait of shoes designed in the USA and leaves us to turn to alternatives like inov8, Salomon or Walsh when conditions get wet. This isn’t really a flaw as such, it just means that it isn’t the right tool for muddy conditions. It would be great if new balance were to produce a ‘soft-ground’ version like Salomon do with their S-Lab shoes but I suspect this won’t happen as their main market is in the USA.
A really excellent trail shoe at the more protective end of the minimalist spectrum that is excellent for dry to damp conditions and rocky terrain.
I believe that there is a totally new version due to arrive in the summer of 2014 and I look forward to taking a look.
This product was purchased by the author
You can check pricing or purchase the MT110 here at Amazon
Got a question? Do you have any experience of running in these shoes? Please leave your thoughts below