Remember the minimalist movement?  Many shoe models form that era are gone, and only the most successful remain.  The New Balance Minimus Trail was the class of that category, and version 3 is an even stronger shoe than either of its predecessors.

New Balance Minimus Trail v3 Features:

  • Weight: 7.2 oz (mens) and 5.8 oz (womens)
  • Heel-toe drop: 4mm
  • Stack height: 17mm heel, 13mm forefoot
  • Breathable synthetic/mesh upper with no-sew wrap construction
  • TPU upper protection at front of toe box
  • Antimicrobial treatment for odor resistance
  • Flexible, barefoot-friendly construction
  • Vibram lugged rubber outsole
  • Three color options
  • Price: $115

new balance mt10 v3

new balance mt10 v3 medial

New Balance Minimus Trail v3 Review

During the height of the barefoot movement a few years ago, practically every shoe company scrambled to bring a minimalist product to market – but only a rare few managed to create something truly remarkable.  The original Minimus Trail – also interchangeably referred to as the MT10 – was one of those, and quickly became a favorite of not just runners, but all manner of athletes and casual recreational users.

The popular acclaim was well deserved, as the MT10 truly nailed a lot of components that minimalist runners love.  It was super lightweight, very low to the ground, highly flexible, with uppers as comfortable as a pair of slippers.  It also provided just the right amount of protection underfoot to allow high-intensity endeavors even on technical terrain.  Therefore, it wasn’t very surprising when the shoe started showing up on more and more trail runners when minimalism was cool.

new balance mt10 flexibility

Now that the minimalist tide has crested, most of the peripheral players have tacked in a different direction – but thankfully, New Balance recognizes that there’s still a loyal segment of trail runners and other users who love the MT10.  Better still, with version 3, they’ve taken the shoe that many of us fell in love with, and given it a few minor updates that are all enhancements without compromising any of the qualities of the previous versions.

new balance mt10 v3 outsole

So the quick version of this review is to say if you loved the previous MT10s, you’ll REALLY love the MT10 v3.  All of the key design elements remain unchanged: it’s very lightweight and completely flexible, with a low stack height and just enough heel-toe drop to allow you to run at high speed.  And somehow New Balance managed to make the upper even more comfortable than before, thanks to a soft mesh material and no-sew construction process that eliminates seams.

new balance mt 10

previous MT10 on L; version 3 on R

The upper also flexes with the foot very effectively, so you don’t feel the fabric against the top of your foot when pushing off the ground.  If there was one drawback to the previous MT10, it was that some users found the metatarsal band across the top of the forefoot a bit too restrictive; on the v3, that band is repositioned and loosened slightly to maintain its function without compromising comfort or range of motion.

new balance mt10 outsole

Previous MT10 outsole on top; v3 on bottom

The most obvious change to the v3 is a revamped Vibram outsole, which has lugs that are taller, narrower, and more prevalent than those on the previous model.  In our testing, traction has proven to be outstanding in a variety of conditions from sloppy mud to exposed and tangled roots to slick granite and technical rocks.  As in previous models, there isn’t a rock plate or any other sort of underfoot protection aside from the thin midsole, so you’ll feel the impact of hard surfaces, but your grip will stay secure.

Perhaps the most telling sign of the times in the footwear industry is how the MT10 is marketed.  On its product page, New Balance recommends the MT10 for neutral runners or those who want to address chronic injuries by improving their running form and adopting a natural foot strike.  This shoe is also linked to New Balance’s Good Form Running program which aims to help runners run faster, easier, and injury-free.   It’s no longer positioned as an all-conditions trail runner, although for experienced minimalist runners, it’s precisely that, and its light weight makes for an outstanding race-day shoe on trails.  I also love using the MT10 as a lightweight hiking shoe, and have used it for multi-day outings in both Yosemite and Glacier National Parks this summer.

new balance mt10 yosemite

Halfway through a 25-mile day in Yosemite

Realistically, it’s probably better to keep the target market for the MT10 relatively narrow – especially in comparison to the minimalist bandwagon from a few years ago – to assure it has a permanent place in New Balance’s product line.  It would be a shame if this shoe became the baby thrown out with the minimalist bath water, so high marks to New Balance for not only keeping the MT10 around, but improving and enhancing it for its intended user base.

The Good

  • Super lightweight
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Completely flexible
  • Strong outsole traction in all conditions

The Bad

  • No underfoot protection means some runners will need to be cautious; we’d love to try this model with a thin layer of protection to really fly.

The Bottom Line: New Balance MT10 v3

The MT10 was a standout shoe in the minimalist crowd a while back; now it’s almost in a class by itself as the perfect combination of minimalist construction and high performance.

Buy Now: Available at Amazon.com

About Author

Donald is a physical therapist, ultrarunner, barefoot aficionado, and father of three with more than 20 years of experience in endurance sports. When he's not training for ultramarathons, he enjoys hiking or slacklining with his family in Monterey County, CA.

3 Comments

  1. I was a huge proponent of the v1. I probably went through about 5 or 6 pairs over the years. I was really holding out on trying out the v2 but finally bit the bullet and holy smokes they were better. This v3 looks like another great improvement!

    PS, these shoes are perfect for grass volleyball!

  2. The Bad

    No underfoot protection means some runners will need to be cautious; we’d love to try this model with a thin layer of protection to really fly.

    Is that not the whole point of this shoe? It has exactly as much protection as you need to run anyway you want without the extra weight. I can run on practically any surface with the mt10v2 anyways. Thanks for the review! 😀

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