I've been running in the New Balance MT10s for about three-and-a-half months now. Over trails and roads, dirt and snow. And I like them. A lot. More than any other shoe I've ever worn. Here's why.
For starters, the MT10 is an all-business, no-frills, minimalist trail shoe.
For example - there is no insole or midsole. The shoe is essentially a slab of Vibram rubber sewed/adhered/etc. to a multilayered mesh upper. The upper is three layers - a thin, sturdy mesh; a large, checked lattice, and a durable, thick, sock-like inner (remember, these shoes were designed partially by Anton Krupicka, and he almost never wears socks (second item on FAQ, and I don' know how he does it)). The tongue and top of the toes is a flexible mesh outer sew into the sock-like inner.
The upper is also wrapped in rubber strips in two places - from the inside/outside of the midfoot arch to the top of the Achilles, and from the ball of the foot to the outside of the little toe. Cross-crossing this are a few strips of strap which run from the arch to the laces.
These straps gives so-called support to the foot or strength to the shoe itself. I find the forefoot strap slightly constrains my foot, which wants to naturally spread out when it lands. Instead, the strap squeezes the ball of my foot and the structures in line with it. This is more problematic because the shoes force you to land on your forefoot/midfoot. (If you need to learn how to do this, watch, learn and do.) Sizing thus becomes critical - I opted for the size I did simply because a 7.5 was too tight on the forefoot. This problem has gone away over time, but these shoes make you earn it.
The forefoot strap is a minimal issue. Once I get running, the constraint caused by it releases and I have no issues. But the constraint was noticeable when trying them on in the store or when walking around at home.
The laces are one area which leave something to be desired - the laces are held in place by alternating loops of strap and through a stiff fabric/rubber. The issue arises when it comes time to loosen, tighten, or tie the shoes. The laces do not flow freely through the loops and less so through the holes. This makes it difficult to evenly distribute the tightness of the laces. As a result, certain portions of the laces are tight, some may be loose, etc.
|Soles, with approximately 200 miles on them. Check the noticeable wear pattern: from outside of heel, through arch, to underneath ball of foot. Nothing else has much wear.|
The sole is Vibram rubber, a flexible, exceptionally durable rubber that is starting (finally) to appear on running footwear. Thank Five Fingers for that. The tread is minimal, especially when you compare it the fell-running creatures put out by iNov8. The sole has rows of circular tread with tri-star holes in between the circles.
The sole's flexibility causes it to wrap around items underfoot - including shooter-sized rocks and other items. I haven't done a long trail run with them, but I imagine that you'd still want to use good foot placement to avoid stepping on obstacles if possible.
The height of the shoes is minimal - 5 mm on the forefoot, 9 mm on the heel, or a 4 mm drop from heel to toe. New Balance provides a disclaimer, similar to what Vibram provides on their Five Fingers:
Caution: This product increases the strain on the foot, calf, and Achilles tendon. Overuse of this product or use of activities outside of running and walking may increase the risk of sustaining injury.
This product should be introduced slowly into a running exercise routine. New Balance recommends limiting initial use to 10% of overall running workouts and very gradually increasing training time and distance.
I can attest to the necessity of the warning. The lower heel drop puts more strain on my calves because they are not artificially shortened by a higher heel-toe drop.I have run in BFT's Luna Sandals and racing flats for several years now, and the MT10s caused me tight calves and Achilles the first few runs.They still do if I'm not warmed up when I crank up the first hill of the day.
Even with the criticisms above, the MT10s maybe the best shoes I've worn and are much loved at iRunFar.com (their review). The conform to my feet, and force me to run with good form. Heel-pounding is not optional. It's midfoot or forefoot - nothing else. Running on pavement in this fashion creates a resounding slap, and the sound is one which I use to gauge how tuned-into a run I am - if I don't hear it and don't notice that I'm not hearing it, I'm in. If I can hear it, I'm not there yet.
The sole are also incredibly durable. The photo above shows the soles at 200 miles on them and the miniature dots of Vibram are only starting to wear. The remainder of the lugs are not even close to showing wear. The shoes are now closer to 555 miles, and the wear pattern is more pronounces, but soles are no where near to dead. I had my first failure with them this week when I found a hole in the mesh behind the strap on the inside of my foot behind the ball has formed. Thankfully, the durable lining is still intact and I'll run in them until total failure.
Although only racing will tell, the MT10s appear to fill my durability niche - they are just enough to shoe to provide adequate and durable protection and nothing more. I've never been one for overly-lugged traction, and if anything, my finish at Sawtooth in racing flats confirms that it is unnecessary (granted, I've never run a really muddy ultra where huge lugs were allegedly necessary, but that is another story).