Friday 27 January 2012

New Balance Minimus Zero MT00 Trail Shoe Review

The New Balance Minimus Zero line has arrived in the UK earlier than expected! Around mid-January the MT00 and MR00 were available to buy online. These shoes have been long-awaited and anticipated. Ever since the MT10 was released last year, barefoot and minimalist runners have nagged NB to release a zero drop version of the shoe. And now, here it is. 
As soon as the release was announced I ordered myself a pair of the MT00's in the black and blue colour scheme, eager to try them out and compare them to the faithful MT10's. Hoping they would prove themselves a worthy addition to my arsenal of minimalist running shoes and an improvement on the already trusted and loved MT10's, I hit the wet and muddy trails of the UK. A fair few runs later, a close inspection and comparison with other minimalist shoes I regularly wear, and I am ready to give my verdict on the NB Minimus Zero MT00 trail shoes. 

The very first thing I instantly noticed was the weight of the shoes, or should I say 'lack of weight'. These are incredibly light. I cannot emphasise this enough. The MT10's weigh around 7.1oz, whilst the MT00's come in around 4.4oz. That is a serious reduction in weight from the original model. NB have managed this through a reduction in weight in both the upper and the sole/tread. The heel has been lowered to create a 'true barefoot' shoe and feel with a zero heel-toe drop. The styling is attractive and the shoes appear well made with clear emphasis on weight reduction. 

NB have created an entirely different upper to the shoe (as you can see in the photo's below this paragraph). The two-piece extremely thin and light upper is stitch and seam-less with laser cut and welded overlays which does make the shoe feel very strong and tear resistant for such a lightweight material. The one-piece tongue is soft to touch, very thin and wraps comfortably around the shape of the foot. As for the laces, they do not hurt or dig in, but are certainly not up to the mark of the Merrell Trail Glove lacing system. They do the job, providing you double-knot them tightly TWICE (otherwise they easily slip undone and are too long). 
You can easily see (my fingers) through the upper fabric
Again, this photo demonstrates how thin the MT00 upper fabric is

Just like the upper, the sole is very minimal. It still boasts a spongy foam midsole with a Vibram tread just like the MT10's, but the circular Vibram rubber lugs are only in places where the MT10's showed wear after many miles of running. In this way, the weight is dramatically reduced. The foam-like material of the midsole is also reduced right through to the soft material of the foot bed. See the photo's below for a close look at the radical, lightweight and new tread design of the MT00.
The blue areas are the harder wearing Vibram rubber, the black areas are the foam-like material 
You can see the soft foot bed in between the foam and rubber lugs
This of course raises the question of durability and protection. So far, after about 4 or 5 runs I have noticed the foam areas showing wear in the form of deep scratches and cuts. The Vibram rubber shows no wear yet and seems to be very durable indeed. Disappointingly, the gaps between the rubber lugs and foam (shown in the photo above) lead right through to the thin foot bed material. This results in risk of puncture injury from thorns and sharp rocks and also means your feet get wet (and therefore cold) from beneath; a problem never experienced in the past! As for grip and traction, I have to say that personally, I have not noticed any difference from the MT10's. This includes running on very muddy and wet trails, gravel, dry compacted mud, grass and even roads. There is no loss of grip whilst also, there seems no improvement in this area apart from the fact that the same grip and traction has been achieved using much less material and rubber, so I suppose this is an improvement in its own right.

Toe Box and Shape:
These are slightly too elongated at the front in my opinion, unlike the MT10's. This being said, they are not uncomfortable and the toes are allowed to splay naturally and without restriction, with the toe box therefore being adequately wide enough to accommodate my reasonably wide feet. The mid foot fits snug and comfortable while I personally found the heel slightly loose around the ankle, therefore increasing risk of debris entering the shoe.

Comparison with the MT10 and Merrell Trail Gloves:
As I have done with the likes of the Merrell Trail Glove, New Balance Minimus MT10 and Vibram FiveFingers in an earlier post back in October 2011, I will score the MT00 from 1 - 10 (1 = low, 10 = high) on the following categories which encompass a good minimalist shoe, giving them a total score out of 100: 

1) Lightweight
2) Ground feel (minimal/no cushioning, more ground feel and less cushioning = more points )
3) No arch support (any support felt will lose points)
4) Zero-drop heel to toe (shoe will lose 1 point for every mm raise in the heel)
5) Wide toe box allowing natural toe spread
6) Comfortable to wear
7) Good traction and grip on a variety of surfaces
8) Good durability and quality materials, well made
9) Value for money
10) Attractive design (always helps when they look great!!!)
Note: the highest scoring shoe is not necessarily the best shoe in every area of testing, but simply the best overall shoe. Some high scoring shoes score low in certain categories, making them less suitable for some tasks, while some slightly lower scoring shoes can score very high in certain categories, making them excellent in their field of expertise. Therefore it is important to know what you want out of a shoe and take note of the scoring on these categories

Below is the score I gave the NB Minimus MT10 when I reviewed it back in October 2011:

1) Weight: 7
2) Ground feel: 7
3) No support: 10
4) Zero-drop heel to toe: 6
5) Toe box: 9
6) Comfort: 9
7) Traction and grip: 8
8) Durability and quality: 9
9) Price: 10
10) Design: 10

TOTAL = 85/100 

After using the MT10 for a few months now, I still stick to my original scores. It is an awesome shoe and definitely still an important player in the field of minimalist trail shoes. My only real complaint about the MT10's is the 4mm drop from heel to toe, and that is only because I like to wear a 'true' bareform zero-drop shoe that mimics as naturally as possible the biomechanics of the barefoot. Below is my score for the MT00.

New Balance Minimus MT00: (£69.95 approx)

1) Weight: 10
2) Ground feel: 7
3) No support: 10
4) Zero-drop heel to toe: 10
5) Toe box: 9
6) Comfort: 8
7) Traction and grip: 8
8) Durability and quality: 7
9) Price: 10
10) Design: 10

TOTAL = 89/100 

As you can see from the score, overall, the MT00 beats the MT10, but only just! It doesn't, however, beat the Merrell Trail Gloves. As a point of reference for those of you interested in comparing the MT00 with the MT10 and Merrells I include below the scoring of the Merrell Trail Glove:

1) Weight: 8
2) Ground feel: 8
3) No support: 10
4) Zero-drop heel to toe: 10
5) Toe box: 8
6) Comfort: 9
7) Traction and grip: 8
8) Durability and quality: 10
9) Price: 9
10) Design: 9

TOTAL = 89/100


In a way, I almost wish NB had simply reduced the heel lift of the MT10, which would have in turn reduced the weight slightly, and kept everything else the same. I don't think the MT00 is an improvement on the MT10. Neither do I think it beats the Trail Glove. Where the MT00 basks in glory on weight, minimalism, design and price, it fails to beat the Merrell Trail Gloves on grip and traction and even loses out on ground feel, comfort and certainly durability! After only a handful of runs the shoes show signs of wear on the soles and even worse, where the material of the upper is glued instead of stitched, there are signs of the glue coming slightly unstuck. Time will tell. The upper of the MT10 is more comfortable and feels more trail-resistant, while the sole feels more protective due to the fact that there are no 'holes' in the tread pattern.

But does this mean NB have failed with their new release? No! Not at all. I don't think the MT10 and MT00 can be directly compared as we all thought would be the case when NB came out with a zero-drop version of the original. What has actually happened is that NB have in fact created an entirely different shoe altogether. This is also echoed by NB themselves, who, as word has it, are continuing making the MT10 as well as the 'newer' MT00. 

With exception to some of the lightest VFF's this is the nearest thing to running completely barefoot on the trails. This is a true and pure minimalist trail shoe for an awesome bareform running experience.

If money allows, I would recommend owning a pair of MT00's, as well as the Merrell Trail Gloves and/or NB Minimus MT10's. The MT00 is in a league of its own; ultra-minimal weight. It is important to realise and understand that the MT00 was created as a feather-light trail shoe for a near-barefoot experience as physically possible, whilst still providing some protection from the environment. As I have previously stated, "A good minimalist shoe for bareform running allows the natural biomechanics and feel of running barefoot whilst also providing some protection for the foot from the environment". This is definitely true for the MT00.

In conclusion, I believe the MT00 will be an important minimalist shoe in my training in the future. I won't use it for very muddy trails, nor shall I choose it on sharp and technical trails. But every time I want to run an average distance on an average trail, fast, and feel as barefoot as possible whilst still protecting my feet, the MT00 will regularly see service.

Happy and Healthy Running

Other photos of the MT00, including un-boxing and muddy after a wet UK trail run!


  1. Nice review. Between the MT00, MT10 and TG if you could only pick one, which would you pick, in what order and why?


  2. Hi. To start, I would say that the answer to your question is dependant on the terrain you run on and the attributes you personally want from a minimalist shoe.

    If I were to pick only 1 of the three, I would choose the Merrell Trail Glove. This is because it feels most durable, well made and robust, while still remaining zero drop, wide toe box and allowing the foot to work naturally. I have most confidence that the TG would perform best over a wide variety of terrain, weather and distances, and due to its high quality build and construction I would have faith it would deal well with a bit of abuse on technical terrain.

    Next I would choose the MT00 as its super light and feels most like being barefoot, but I would not expect it to last as long as the TG or MT10. Running fast on easyish terrain then buy this one, it's incredible.

    Why MT10 last? Simply the 4mm drop. Due to comfort and build quality, if NB had made the MT10 with a zero drop then I may prefer it to the MT00 but that is speculation.

    I ran a trail marathon in the TG and it was awesome. No problems. It's so versatile and well made. BUT...there is very little difference between the shoes as they are all excellent in their own right. It probably comes down to personal preference and terrain when you choose the shoe for you.

    I hope this helps

  3. Hi "Cave", very good job.
    I'm agree with you: i'm ultratrailrunner with 5F, but i think Merrell Trailglove are the best "barefoot styles" shoes i've tried: grip, protection, they are funny to use.

  4. Hi,

    I was about to order the MT00 when I read your great review... The quality issue is really a negative point for me.
    I will try to find more information on the trail glove before ordering. By the way, can you please tell me how the TG fit? Would I have to go my regular size or should I go a half-size up?

  5. Hi Xallo
    The quality of the MT00 is good, but I have to say the TG seems better, especially in durability terms. In terms of sizing I would go for your regular size in TG, as opposed to smaller in VFF and larger in NB in my experience.
    Don't be put off, the Minimus zeros are an incredible lightweight shoe like no other, but if a barefoot experience plus durability are what you want I would go for the trail gloves.
    Hope this helps

    1. Thank you for you reply. I have to admit that I prefer the look of the NB00. Unfortunately, I won't have the opportunity to see/try the NB nor the TG to help me decide. I will continue to read reviews...
      Thanks again!

  6. Which one of these trail shoes actually provides the most toe protection for very rocky trail?
    The VFF Spirodon LS has wrecked my toes so I need the one that is the most protective/sturdy in that area.

    1. Oh dear that sounds painful!!! I hope it all heals up soon for you.

      I would say that the answer is easy. Between these shoes it would be the Merrell Trail glove.

      I do think there is another two options for you though in the zero drop arena of minimalist shoes: The Vivobarefoot Neo trails or the Vivobarefoot Breatho trails. Neo's are more cold weather running, breatho's are warmer weather runners. These offer much better protection and grip. They are in another league, but the down side is that they are heavier and bulkier (something you may have to put up with if protection from rocky trails is the most important factor for you). I have reviewed the neo trails on this blog so have a look. The breatho is the newer summer version.



    After owning a pair of NB Minimus MT00 for a fair few months now I feel I am able to comment well on whether this is a good trail shoe or not. So here it goes:

    1) Great for dry compact trails such as found in the US or summer months in the UK.
    2) Very light and fast, and flexible shoe.
    3) Can cause blisters on the upper part of the toes where the thin rough material rubs when the shoe bends; it always bends from one point as the sole and material is so thin.
    4) Absolutely useless on muddy trails in the colder and wetter months in the UK. Mud sticks, grip slides all over the place; wouldn't even consider taking them out in the mud and wet.
    5) Durability not great on technical trail

    To conclude, this is a great training tool for fast, short and dry/compacted trail running. For everything else I would use another trail shoe such as the Inov-8 Trailroc 235 or Vibram FiveFinger Spyridon LS.

    Let me know what you have found...

  8. Check out my full update: