The release of the next generation of New Balance Minimus minimalist shoes — the "Minimus Zeros," so called for being the first "zero-drop" or same sole thickness at the heel as at the ball of the foot — is imminent. And while we did a major round-up review of the Road and Trail Zeros a little while back, one exciting aspect of these next generation shoes from New Balance is that both the Road and Trail Zeros are being produced in wide versions.
A quick re-cap on the Minimus Zero Road (MR00)
Tim recently covered the NB Minimus Road Zeros in Wide (2E) vs. Regular (D) noting that the key difference in the two shoes is that the upper is more roomy in the 2E wides but that the foam and Vibram rubber sole is exactly the same. In other words, the 2E Minimus Zero Roads are wider on top but no wider on bottom.
This latter design quality (flaw?) is to the chagrin of many, myself included, and I don't even have particularly wide feet. As another BirthdayShoes blogger (Philip) pointed out in the Road Zeros in Wides comments, the Road Zero soles aren't flat all the way to the edges. Unfortunately, this design quality can be irritating to a wide foot that effectively pushes at these raised sidewalls. To help you visualize the Road Zero sole's raised sidewalls, here is a rendition of what the cross-section of the sole at the forefoot would (based on how it feels, anyway) look like:
This exaggerates the discrepancy, but you get the idea. It's a subtle lift on the outermost sides that my feet notice and find a little annoying. It's not a dealbreaker, it's just a nuisance (and seems unnecessary).
But what of the NB Minimus Trail Zero in wide — and not just wide, but 4E wide — does it deliver on the widened goods? Is the sole actually larger/wider? Does it have that annoying lip on the edges? For more detailed answers and some actual photos (and additional ways to win a pair on their release), follow me after the jump!
NB Minimus Zero Trails in 4E Wide! That's big!
First, just to get it out and over with, it seems New Balance is producing the Minimus Trail Zeros only in D and 4E and the Minimus Road Zeros only in D and 2E. Yes, that's strange! No, I don't know why (don't shoot the messenger)!
The soles of the NB Minimus Trail Zeros (the MT00 both wide and regular have little pod/bubbles that protrude off of a foam base. These rounded domes come in two forms: either just the foam or they flatten and are capped with additional protection by way of Vibram rubber. In the photo below, the black is the foam base and the green is the foam plus rubber caps:
Note where each foam dome terminates into the shoe upper there's a foam base (the part that attaches to the upper of the shoe). This foam base feels to my foot of uniform thickness from edge to edge where ever it is present — as in, it doesn't thicken at the edges like the Road Zero.
And while I don't have particularly wide feet, the sole of the Trail Zero (in Regular D or wide) is just more comfortable than the Road Zero because it doesn't have this sidewall thickening design quality. That said, in the event your foot goes over the edges of the Trail Zero soles, your only issue is going to be the lack of stretchiness in the fabric used for the Trail Zero upper, which doesn't really stretch but rather creases in sometimes odd ways. The Trail Zeros use quite an unusual upper material.
My not particularly wide feet ran into a little creasing issue in the regular D Trail Zeros at the point where my arch terminates into my forefoot sort of wants to spill over the soles of the regular width Trail Zeros when I'm standing upright with my full weight distributed over the length of the shoes. Here's a photo:
My hope was that the 4E Minimus Trail Zeros would solve this problem. I'll cut to the chase: they did; but unfortunately for me, are almost too wide for my not-really-that-wide feet (I don't typically wear wide shoes at all).
Thankfully, with the 4E Minimus Trail Zeros both the sole and the upper have been upsized to work with wider feet, as in they're noticeably larger; you can see this in the photo above which shows a side by side match-up of the wides (4E) vs. the regulars (D) in size 10.5. It's pretty obvious the 4Es have a wider sole in the photos and it's exceedingly obvious to your foot when you put them on. This extra width goes all the way to the heel as you can see below:
Finally, the upper in the Trail Zeros seem markedly roomier on the insides — unfortunately, a little too wide for my feet.
All in all, if you're looking to pick up some wides in the Minimus Zero line, you might have better luck with the MT00 Trail Zeros. Ultimately, if you're nervous about widths, I think you're just going to have to try these things on for yourself.
Regarding availability, the Minimus Zero Trails were released for sale on March 1, 2012! You can find them over at ShopNewBalance.com for about $110. If you pick up a pair and have particularly wide feet, I'm eager to hear what you think about these 4E monsters!