What follows is a brief model update from New Balance — they recently released the New Balance 10 or Minimus Multi-Sport. Check out the official New Balance re-take on the original Minimus Trail (which is still available):
An entirely different approach to all-season outdoor athletics, the New Balance Minimus Multi-Sport MO10 takes the proven versatile durability of a Vibram® outsole and combines it with a fitted, minimalist upper that's comfortable with or without socks. Navigate the trails through the winter months with this water- and odor-resistant Minimus edition.
The main differences between the Multi-Sport and the original Minimus Trail are in the upper materials. Read on for more photos and how these puppies do in water and cold!
Multi-Sport vs. Minimus Trail Overview
In the above photo you can see the Multi-Sport Minimus on the left and the orange flavor of the original Minimus Trail on the right. You can read my full review of the Minimus Trail here (and watch a video overview of the Minimus Trail here). I suggest these Minimus Trail reviews to get a sense of the structure of the Multi-Sport as there is little to no difference between the two shoes structurally. Both have the same "bones" — Vibram sole (plus EVA), 4mm offset from heel to toe (about 14mm to 10mm), the "rubber band" over the top of the forefoot (and around the heel), and both are designed to be worn barefoot. The differences between the two pairs is in the materials used in the fabric upper. Whereas the original Minimus Trail has a porous mesh upper (and the inside feels lined with a silky smooth nylon), the Multi-Sport utilizes a warmer, water-resistant fabric. The insides of the Multi-Sport have a noticeably different feel than the original Minimus Trail — still quite nice feeling against the bare foot, but it feels sturdier to the touch.
How well does this fabric "do the job" of keeping water out? Keeping warmth in? Well, let's find out.
How much warmer are the New Balance Minimus Multi-Sports?
To tackle this question I took two approaches. First, it's Fall in Atlanta right now so that means I can't test these in particularly cold conditions, but I was able to wear the Minimus Multi-Sport on one foot and the Minimus Trail on another one more when it was in the lower 40s. No socks. I wore them on the way to work, so this was basically a test of temperature differences on two bare feet as they were exposed to the cold for about 45 minutes.
My feet were noticeably more comfortable in the Multi-Sports compared to in the original Minimus Trail. It's hard to subjectively measure the difference and it wasn't noticeable at all for about 5-10 minutes (while the Minimus Trail upper is mesh-y, it's not airy to my foot), but about 15 minutes in my Multi-Sport clad foot was still cozy (though I'd not say warm — just comfortable and not cold) whereas my Minimus Trail clad food was cold. If I had to gauge the temperature threshold across the two models, I'd say the Multi-Sport is going to provide another 10-15 degrees of warmth to the bare foot in cold conditions.
Meanwhile, test two involved a run in about 50-60 degree temperatures. This was a street run and obviously not in super-cold climate. The results here were interesting though — I didn't really notice any difference in heat or sweat across the two Minimus models. My Multi-Sport clad foot was just as comfortable as the Minimus Trail-clad foot. So there's that.
Overall, I'd say if you're in really cold conditions, the Multi-Sport is going to be a good option but you may need to size appropriately for socks (I'd likely go from a size 10.5 barefoot to a size 11).
How waterproof are the Minimus Multi-Sports?
To test water-resistance or the "waterproofness" of the Minimus Multi-Sport, I slapped on some Injinji socks and put one Multi-Sport on my right foot and the original Minimus Trail on my left foot. I then took advantage of a rainy night here in Atlanta and, camera and umbrella in hand, took to the streets.
I wore socks because I wanted to "spot" what got wet and how much. I found a good sized puddle and then stood in it for awhile. Probably 30 seconds to a minute. Check out the results:
What you can see here is that while the Minimus Trails left my foot soaked (mostly at the forefoot and a bit a the heel), my Multi-Sport clad right foot was left bone dry. Seriously. It wasn't wet at all.
Mind that I wasn't sloshing about in the puddle or running down the street (or on a trail for that matter) — an important point to make is that with all low-heeled footwear, the distance between the bone protrusions around your ankle and the earth is minimized. Thus, minimally heeled footwear is going to be cut around your ankle at this point, and this will be the easiest point of entry for water to splash into your shoes. Without a higher "boot" around the ankle, there's really not much you can do to solve this problem.
That said, the Multi-Sport Minimus shoes have a sewn in place tongue (the original Minimus Trail does, too, but it's not water-resistant material), so if water is going to get into your shoes, it's this ankle opening where it's going to happen.
All in all, I was really impressed with how well the Multi-Sport kept my feet dry.
New Balance Minimus Multi-Sport or Minimus Trail? Conclusion.
So which should you get? Well, let's start at the top: price. The New Balance 10 / Minimus Multi-Sport MSRP's at $110. Comparatively, the MT10 / original Minimus Trail MSRP's at $100. So you gotta shell out $10 for the extra warmth and water-resistance.
And since that's the differentiating factor between the two pairs, I'm going to say that if it was me, I'd get the Minimus Multi-Sport. For 10% more in price, you get a shoe you can wear more comfortably and in more conditions. Trails aren't often dry and you also can wear these around casually in wet conditions, so they do double duty.
Just be cognizant of the limitations on the Multi-Sports water-resistance and that they're likely only going to keep a bare foot warm for so long if you're heading out in sub-40 or sub-30 (Fahrenheit) conditions. If you are in very cold climes, consider sizing appropriately for socks (try them on with a pair of wool socks — Injinjis are pretty thin so I don't think you'd need to size up for them).
Meanwhile, the weak link on water-resistance is going to be the ankle opening, so keep that in mind, too.
Bottom line is that if you're sold on wanting the New Balance Minimus Trail, consider the Multi-Sport instead as it's basically the same shoe with a more robust upper — unless you live near the equator and won't ever have to deal with the cold!
Questions, comments, glaring omissions — let's hear it in the comments below!