New Balance MT100 Initial Review

update: I bought the items below with my own money and have no financial interest in any of the products mentioned below.  When a company gives me items to review, I will make sure it is stated.

Anxiously awaiting these lithe little beauties?  I have and as soon as I saw them show up at an on-line retailer, I snagged them up.

So what’s the big deal about the New Balance Trail 100, referred to as the MT100 for men or WT100 for the women’s version?  These shoes are an evolution of the popular minimal trail running shoe the 790. The 790 picked up a good following over the last year for those looking to get a lower to the ground trail runner that was super lightweight.  Kyle Skaggswearing them for his record breaking Hardrock 100 in 2008 might have helped too.  Another note is that Kyle and Tony Krupicka (known for taking a knife to his shoes to lighten them up) had their hands in designing these.

Let’s start with the most shocking stat… 7.7 ounces in a men’s size 9. Not impressed?  Think of it this way… go to your cabinet, pull out 8 energy gels and hold them in your hand.  You now have more weight in your hand then you would have on your foot when wearing the MT100.

The upper is stripped down and is mostly mesh.  There are some areas of the upper that have overlays to add some structure particularly around the eyelets and midfoot.  The tong is nothing more than a thin piece of fabric.  There is zero padding in it, but I did not find it to effect the fit or bothersome to not having padding here.  The toe box is a tough pliable fabric.  It’s not going to do a lot to protect your toes if you kick a rock or root, but it seems to be tough enough to keep the normal sharp object found on the trail from poking though.

Oddly enough there is a decent amount of arch support in these.  That seems to be where the majority of midsole foam is concentrated at.  I assume this to be because of mid-foot strike that Tony and Kyle have (along with a lot of other).  As you can see above the midsole foam curves up to support the arch.  While this is not a ton of support, when compared to another lightweight racer like the Inov-8 F-lite 230, it is significant.

 

Another unique feature of the 100 is the shoe stings.  Most of the time this is not a worthy call out, but New Balance decided to use the “sausage link” kind for this trail runner.  I have had one other pair of shoes that had these and really like them.  The repeated thick and skinny pattern helps keep them tied and also locks the laces in the eyelets so that once you have then cinched down where you like them they don’t slip too much.

Lastly, the tread. It’s minimal, but enough for most trail running.  There are low profile lugs that run from the toe to right below where the middle of your arch would be.  Also in this part of the shoe is the rock plate.  It is a hard piece of plastic that is put there to keep sharps from poking though when you are out on the trail.  You can see from the picture below that it only runs from the toe to the start of the arch of the shoe not the entire length.  From the middle of the arch to the heel there are a few tiny lugs and gritty rubber.  This is just enough traction to keep this section from being completely bare.   Also if you look, It appears like someone took a melon-baller to the outsole and scooped out parts of the tread and midsole.  I assume this was done to further cut down on weight.  Then at the heel there are some reverse lugs to grip when going down hill.

Overall, this is an exciting shoe to hit the trail running market. It’s lightweight, provides some protection, and has decent grip.  I’ll be doing a video review of this shoe along with the Inov-8 F-Lite 230 mentioned above in the next week or so.  This allows me to get a little more mileage on them.  Keep your eye out for that and let me know in the comments if there are any questions you have and I’ll make sure to address them.