Comment from: Jen [Visitor]
Jen

Well - I would really be curious to try a pair of these out. You presented them well - and sold them well, for that matter - and they seem like a great shoe. They look nice, sound nice...and even before reading the review, I was amazed at how thin the sole looked in the pictures. Looks like they might have nailed something here.

02/23/11 @ 10:35
Comment from: wilberfan [Visitor]  
wilberfan

I definitely interested, but the deal-breaker for me (and the reason I had to stop wearing my Vivo Barefoots) is going to be the toe box width.

Any idea whether these will be offered in multiple widths?

02/23/11 @ 12:39
Comment from: Zephyr [Visitor]  
Zephyr

This model could be perhaps considered as transitional shoes but never true minimalist shoes since:

1. their soles are too thick (12 mm under the ball of the foot and 16 mm under the heel);

2. they feature very cushioned soles (as cushioned as Nike Frees 5.0 according to Justin);

3. there is a heel to toe drop of at least 4 mm (before taking into account the incremental effect of the body weight on the real inclination of the foot).

All these elements exceed the basic requirements of shoes and contribute to alter the foot biomechanics, excluding the shoes from the minimalist concept.

02/23/11 @ 13:28
Comment from: admin [Member]  

@Zephyr,

Not sure I agree with you.

For one, I don't think there's a bright line rule as to what is minimalist by definition -- no standard "minimalist shoe."

So while I disagree with the overall premise of your comment, I also have specific disagreements:

Re: 1; the soles are 11/15mm per my measurements (not that a mm makes a difference, just sayin')

Re: 2; "very cushined soles" -- this just isn't true. They aren't rubber soles and rubber soles are much "harder" than a foam sole, but simply by being significantly less thick than the Free 5.0s, they are very dissimilar to the 5.0s. I don't particularly like wearing the Free 5.0s as not only is heel a monster, but the wearing experience just feels stiff. It probably doesn't help that the 5.0s also have a fairly hard insole on top of the thicker soles, so you really don't get much ground feel with them.

Comparatively, the NBMLifes transmit a ton more ground feedback. It's not the same as you get with insole-removed Terra Plana Vivo Barefoots, but it's also worth noting that Vivo Aquas with the insole are about 10mm thick or so and have cushioning. Does that mean they aren't minimalist either?

Re: 3; if there's any one thing I could point to to DQ the NBMLifes as minimalist it would be the heel-to-toe drop. However, 4mm is hardly anything and I've been pleasantly surprised to find that it doesn't actually do much to impact my gait. For some reason, walking in the NBMLifes seems almost more comfortable and natural on a treadmill than doing the same in VFFs or other neutral shoes. Why? Not sure. Meanwhile, my gait still feels pretty natural in the NBMLifes.

I'll also point out that the design of the Lifes is minimalist and barefoot-minded. They are very clearly meant to be worn without socks -- and I'm not sure I could say the same about Vivo Barefoots, which just seem abrasive on the inside to my bare feet by comparison to the Lifes. The Vivo Barefoots are also heavier, too -- hardly "minimalist" in the "less is more" sense of the word.

Other things going for these as minimalist shoes -- lack of arch support and an upsized toe box.

So I guess I just question whether there are hard lines defining what is and isn't minimalist -- this seems pretty subjective to me. Meanwhile, I think the Lifes are getting it very close to perfect in certain regards and beating out current mainstream "minimalist footwear." That they aren't perfect leaves some room for improvement, which I hope New Balance works on going forward.

Just my opinion :)

02/23/11 @ 13:54
Comment from: Ghost [Visitor]
Ghost

I gotta say I'm with Justin on this one.
By the way, perhaps I measured wrong, but I got 9/13 when I measured.
And they have nowhere close to the kind of cushioning as the Nike's.
Zephyr comes across as a little bit of a 'hater'. I'm sure that's not your intention though. I got a pair late last week, and I'm impressed with their weight, their minimalism, their wearability. I think I'll be wearing my VFF Sprints even less now that I have these NB Life's.

02/23/11 @ 15:08
Comment from: Rich [Visitor]
Rich

I like the concept, and I don't find them "not minimal enough." I just don't really care for the look. I've always been a fan of NB's shoes from a functional standpoint, but I don't share their aesthetic sense. I guess it's just personal preference, but I think all their shoes look kind of retro, in a boring way.

I think a lot of us are interested in minimal options that attract a little less attention than VFFs for casual wear. I just ordered a pair of Merrell Tough Gloves and will be really interested to see how they work as a casual shoe. I don't think those have been reviewed here, have they?

02/23/11 @ 16:22
Comment from: Zephyr [Visitor]  
Zephyr

I admit that I exaggerated when I called thick 11-15 mm soles and very cushioned (although they are still more cushioned than the top minimalist shoes).
On the other hand, the heel-to-toe drop isn't an accident, nor even an aesthetic concession (it isn't visually noticeable). The most logic explanation to it is New Balance trying to reach a wider "audience". NB has designed their shoes to be more comfortable to those people whose Achilles tendons have become shortened by wearing shoes with heels for years.
This particular feature makes the shoes a valuable option for those transitioning from regular shoes to minimalist but who are trying to avoid any temporary discomfort or calf pain (it may seem that 4 mm is too little to make any difference, however, the difference in length between a well developed Achilles tendon and a shortened one doesn't go much further).
On the contrary, if you are already adapted to a zero drop, an "insignificant" 4mm drop isn't going to give you the slightest advantage (unless you want to revert the process and adapt to heels again).

02/23/11 @ 19:12
Comment from: David Stretanski [Visitor]
David Stretanski

Justin,
I have been wear testing the NB Minimus Life since late August 2010. From everyday wear almost no stop to 21+ mile runs, I really enjoy these shoes. High mileage with minimal wear.

There is also a all black on yellow sole version.
Enjoy,
David.

02/23/11 @ 20:55
Comment from: Ibrahim [Visitor]  
Ibrahim

Just spoke with Rep from REI, she said they do not have the minimus line in their systems.

" We do not expect to get those shoes in... We do not yet have them in the system."

02/24/11 @ 12:07
Comment from: Ibrahim [Visitor]  
Ibrahim

Also I confirmed with Track Shack in Orlando, FL that they will be getting them in. THey said order is for March first. Will come in two styles, with color of gray and red, I believe this means they will be Minimus Life and Minimus road, but I am uncertain. They said they do not know the exact styles.

02/24/11 @ 16:36
Comment from: Mary [Visitor]
Mary

These look like the fantasy shoes I've wanted for years. No laces to fuss with, no need for socks, nothing overly flashy (but nice looking), low cut, light weight, flexible...
My biggest concern is washability. I am not a sock fan but if I'm going to wear a sockless closed shoe, I need to know I can wash it somehow because my feel sweat like crazy.
My secondary concern is the toe box. I've never had much lock with New Balance shoes because they're always been more narrow in the toe box. And now my toes need even more room than before. I hope these really do have a roomy toe box without sacrificing overall fit.
I also hope they run true to size because I'm sick of fiddling with sizing.

I will definitely be checking these out though.

02/24/11 @ 19:41
Comment from: Mary [Visitor]
Mary

I'm not sure how "New Balance trying to reach a wider audience" is a surprise or keeps these from being a valid option for minimal-type footwear. Of course they want to reach a wide audience... they're New Balance, it's what they do. Compared to most shoes in the same market (ie releases from major brands in athletic footwear, rather than more niche companies) these are much closer to ideal than anything else I've seen. They're not perfect but they definitely come closest to hitting the mark from what I can tell at this point.
Again, my area of questioning is the toe box. If it's not significantly wider than most then I don't see the point. But assuming a roomy toe box, I think this will be a solid offering from a major shoe manufacturer and a big step in the right direction.

I personally like to mix it up with my footwear and am all for more option being available. I think it'll be nice to have a decent 'mainstream' option and hopefully it'll lead to more and they'll improve over time.
I love my VFFs like nothing else, but sometimes I want something a little different. And sometimes I'm just not in the mood to answer a gazillion questions about my shoes everywhere I go. Lol. I don't want to be rude and potentially put anyone off from considering VFFs so I'd love to have a "regular" looking option for days when I want something more understated. And some days I just want a little more under my foot without having to go with a full on traditional shoe. These look like they may fit the bill on both those fronts.

Kudos to NB for trying with these and coming out with something that seems well thought out and much closer to an actual minimalist-type offering than most other companies that have tried to jump on the barefoot bandwagon.

Also, I tried some Nike Free 5.0s yesterday and there's no comparison with these shoes. I can tell that just from the information given here. Even the Free 3.0s have a much more significant heel drop and way more cushioning.

02/25/11 @ 09:04
Comment from: Paul [Visitor]
Paul

I have not had a chance to try these out...and they look really great. In fact, Im still waiting for my NBMT10, which I am stoked about! But I work in an office which does not allow sneaker-like shoes (NB, or Merrell Barefoot), and deff not VFF. So I actually ordered a pair of Merrell Pathway Mocs. Its not barefoot per se, but its pretty close! I like to think of them as my 9-5 Racing Flats.
I guess Merrell Barefoot Leather would work ok too...
http://www.merrell.com/US/en-US/Product.mvc.aspx/22888M/50428/Mens/Pathway-Moc

02/25/11 @ 09:52
Comment from: GB [Visitor]
GB

If anyone knows where to find these, please post! I have called all the stores near me and the trail and road seem to be coming in soon, but no one is getting the life :(

02/25/11 @ 16:24
Comment from: toby [Visitor]
toby

That is one sexy shoe. Looks exactly(to me at least) like a zero dropped Nike Free. How good do they look with long pants as well? Awesome stuff

02/26/11 @ 21:35
Comment from: TC [Visitor]
TC

While it's undisputed that the Vibram five Fingers have a zero heel-toe drop, the comments about the Nike Free Run+ are incorrect.

The heel-toe drop can't be measured from the exterior of the shoe looking at the sole. You have to measure it from the inside since your heel actually sits lower than it appears from the exterior of the shoe. (So the exterior was designed for better looks, can't fault Nike for that).

In fact, a Nike shoe engineer (Ernest @ Nike) responded to this very topic at Runners World:

http://www.runnersworld.com/community/forums/shoes-stuff/shoes/nike-frees-regarded-joke

"With regard to the midsole of the Nike Free Run+ sporting a "massive" heel, as Axemen notes above, this is not the case. It's important to note that the height of a midsole as visible from the side-view of a shoe is not necessarily indicative of its thickness under the foot. In most shoes--not just Nike, but all brands--the sidewall of the midsole wraps up around the perimeter of the foot to provide added support and to help keep the foot centered on the footbed. In the case of the Nike Free Run+, the actual height of the midsole under the heel of the foot is 1 mm lower than it was in the Nike Free 5.0 v4. The forefoot height has remained constant, which means the differential in height between the forefoot and heel--what we call the heel/ball offset--is also 1 mm lower than it was in the 5.0 v4. The net result is a more barefoot-like feel."

02/27/11 @ 16:15
Comment from: Bob Lasky [Visitor]
Bob Lasky

Very, cool! Hope NB offers a solid color like black. If they would hold up to running they might be an awesome triathlon shoe. Fast transitions.
I believe in the barefoot/minimalist shoe idea. Remember Thom Mcann's Earth shoe? Wide toe box and lower heel.

02/27/11 @ 17:26
Comment from: admin [Member]  

@TC,

I used skinfold calipers to "reach inside" the shoe and measure the thickness at the heel -- not based on the external appearance of heel (as you noted, that would give an incorrect measurement). This is obfuscated at the forefoot by the fact that calipers can't reach into the forefoot of the shoe, so I had to measure thickness of the forefoot sole as well as the upper fabric, but this shouldn't materially affect the measurement.

Anyway, bottom line is that the measurement method I used -- while imperfect out of human error and not using the best tools -- is, indeed, taking the measurement at the right points (and not based on the appearance of thickness, but the actual thickness).

Make sense?

02/27/11 @ 22:54
Comment from: mike [Visitor]
mike

i tired on the trail gloves and the minimus trails yesterday. i like the fit and feel of NB much better. if these lifes come in all black then i'll get a pair.

03/02/11 @ 10:14
Comment from: David [Visitor]  
David

Where did you find that color combo Minimus. I have only seen one color option for the men's life Minimus and that is black and yellow.

03/03/11 @ 17:23
Comment from: samantha Vanover [Visitor]
samantha Vanover

Would you say that the Minimus life would be good to where in the colder weather with socks. I dont do go with my feet being wet all the time in my VFFS.

03/03/11 @ 17:35
Comment from: Scott [Visitor]  
Scott

I just picked up a pair but they are nowhere nearly as easy to slip on as your video shows, and the elastic actually puts enough pressure on the top of my foot to cause a little discomfort. Were yours like this initially? They are long enough for my toes so I'd hate to size up just so they fit the top of my foot better.

03/07/11 @ 18:31
Comment from: admin [Member]  

@Scott,

I'm guessing you have a high instep -- do you have any closed-top FiveFingers? They tight on top of foot?

I think the Life has broken in a bit from first wear, but not sure if they'll break in enough if they're really uncomfortable now -- and I don't think sizing up is the answer given you'd end up having tons of extra room in the toe box.

@samantha,

Really depends on what "cold" means -- 40s? No problem. 30s ... probably wouldn't want to be outside too long in them. Just sorta depends.

@David,

I think you must have been thinking of the Trails that come in black/yellow.

03/08/11 @ 08:46
Comment from: Scott [Visitor]  
Scott

@Justin- My instep is ~10.25" and instep height is a ~3.5" but my feet are ~25.3mm long. I have no idea what is considered standard for length:instep height ratio. I ended up sending them back for a size 8 thinking that the few extra mm in the toe wouldn't bother too bad and will just get a refund if that doesn't work. We will see shortly!

@David- You must mean these, right off the NB site: http://www.shopnewbalance.com/newbalanceMW10MM.htm?CLT1=MW10GR&recs=MW10MM

03/08/11 @ 10:30
Comment from: TC [Visitor]
TC

Any recommendations on sizing? Normally I buy all my shoes from Zappos which has a wonderful exchange/return policy making sizing easy -- you just buy multiple sizes and return the ones that don't fit.

However, I'll be buying these directly from NB so want to minimize the exchange hassle and cost with doing so. Wondering if these are true to size?

03/09/11 @ 18:31
Comment from: Dean Kriegel [Visitor]  
Dean Kriegel

The Life is now being sold on the NB site.

03/13/11 @ 14:26
Comment from: Bill [Visitor]  
Bill

Same as above. I usually wear an 11 in NB running shoes, but was wondering if I could go with the 10.5 in these if I plan on using them for casual wear barefooted.

03/14/11 @ 12:29
Comment from: BILL [Visitor]  
BILL

@TC - I just checked and it looks like New Balance online is offering free returns a la Zappos.

03/14/11 @ 12:48
Comment from: Anthony [Visitor]
Anthony

I just got mine today (ordered through New Balance's website), and they fit true to size. I wear 8.5-9 in other shoes (41 kso) and ordered these in 8.5. Fits perfectly barefoot, a little too snug with socks - imo.

03/14/11 @ 17:55
Comment from: seymour veniar [Visitor]
seymour veniar

would the NB minimus life accommodate orthotic inserts?

03/16/11 @ 10:35
Comment from: admin [Member]  

@seymour,

Possibly but I don't know for sure. Honestly, the notion of orthotic inserts in a "barefoot" shoe runs counter to the purpose of natural footwear, so this seems like a very strange question to me.

03/16/11 @ 11:48
Comment from: Aristo [Visitor]
Aristo

I usually wear a size 12, but ever since I have been barefoot & minimalist (vibram, nike free etc) I feel that a 11 1/2 fits me better now.
I own the Minimus trail and love them, I just bought the Minimus wellness -black & yellow (got them for $85 shipped) and they are awesome. They are much smaller sole (even compared to my free 3.0) and are great without socks. I recommend these (even though i believe these should be in the $60 price range... good luck right)
-Aristo

03/16/11 @ 16:09
Comment from: Chris [Visitor]  
Chris

Just ordered a pair today and I'm super pumped! I've been wearing my VFF Komodos almost every day since I got them, but now I can save them more for fitness and use the NB Minimus Lifes for every day wear.

Quick question: did you notice that they developed a smell/stink similar to the VFFs? My Komodos already smell really bad and I'm about to wash them for a second time after only having them for a month.

03/17/11 @ 23:15
Comment from: Chris [Visitor]
Chris

Great review! I wanted to get your feedback between the natural vs. the road in terms of being "closest" to barefoot. Trying to work myself down from Nike 3.0 to something more low profile etc..

Thanks!

04/12/11 @ 12:06
Comment from: Max [Visitor]
Max

I have a question for those of you who have worn their nb life shoes for a while. I'm right between sizes 10 and 10.5 and was wondering if they stretch over time.

04/28/11 @ 15:42
Comment from: Adrian [Visitor]
Adrian

Hello there. How are the traction in these shoes? And If you have had any more runs since the review, how do they hold on? Do they wear down as predicted? Thanks

05/21/11 @ 00:32
Comment from: Ken [Visitor]  
Ken

have had the LIfe for some time and enjoy the fit and low profile. however, the strap closure is useless and the "seamless" insole had enuff stitching to irritate my feet. SOO i do what i do and performed my own shoe surgery and have come up with a good pair of minimalist casual and RUNNING shoes. the trick is to cut out the strap and replace with laces and add a couple holes just inside the suede upper above the strap/lace holes. also, i added a thin insole which i cut out from a mat purchased at a hobby store. i have run in my "improved" version of the LIfe and enjoy the comfort and road feel of the shoe. NB almost hit a homerun with these shoes but an off the wall triple works.

06/10/11 @ 11:28
Comment from: Greg [Visitor]  
Greg

I have run in the Life's on a 13-miler on the beach (packed sand), on a treadmill, and 5 on asphalt and, though I wouldn't use these as long-distance road trainers, they work great for shorter. Comfortable, just enough protection as an entry barefoot running and walking shoe. The straps felt a little tight at first but they stretched just enough, which was nice. I used these on a trail jog/walk and they were fine going up but didn't provide any traction in mud up or down.

06/15/11 @ 18:19
Comment from: brandon [Visitor]
brandon

i really want to buy a pair of these shoes but i have no idea how they are going to fit and theres no where i can try them on at. i am a 42 in my komodo sports and a 10 in regular shoes but i dont know if i should order these in a 42 beacuse that obviously translates to a 8.5 (us. so it would be great to know your guys VFF sizes and the life size you ordered and how they fit. thank you very much

06/25/11 @ 16:42
Comment from: mark [Visitor]
mark

@branden, I wear a size 41 in VFF komodo and bikila. I fit a 9 in the new balance m10 trails, which on the box says EU 42.5

06/27/11 @ 22:54
Comment from: Nick [Visitor]
Nick

Brandon, in my Komodosports, I wore a 44 but in these minimus lifes I wear a 10.5. Even though these are thicker than the komodosports, they definitely don't feel far off. These will be very easy to run on the forefoot in I feel. I would have loved the vff if they had sizes that fit flintstone toes better and they were more durable. If my komodosports soles hadn't started peeling from the upper after 3 weeks I never would have tried this shoe. Hopefully this one is more durable.

06/30/11 @ 00:53
Comment from: Mike Lee [Visitor]  
Mike Lee

Hi, I have a similar question on sizes since I can't find a place where I live that carries them to try on. I wear a 11.5 in Nike Free Run+ 5.0. Any idea what size I should get in these?

07/22/11 @ 11:08
Comment from: likemydog90210 [Visitor]  
likemydog90210

Hey great review,
i was wondering if anyone had opinions if i could play tennis in these shoes? i mean they look (and are) a pretty thin material, so i don't want to get them and have them rip, would they live do you think or no? also i was wondering, if i wear a 9 1/2 D in a regular NB tennis shoe, should i get these guys in a 9 1/2 D or go up a half a size?

Thank you!

08/27/11 @ 22:32
Comment from: Eric [Visitor]  
Eric

Here is another question about possible stinkyness. Any problems yet wearing them sockless and having odor? I don't want to spend a $100 on shoes and have it be a problem. My feet sweat if I don't wear socks, even with sandals. So I'm thinking that I may have to wash them regularly or wear socks. Do they hold up in the wash?

09/28/11 @ 21:09
Comment from: Eric [Visitor]
Eric

I can't find the Minimus Life in my area, but I have found the Minimus Trail. How does the Life compare with the Trail with regards to fit? I tried on the Trails and found that I had to go up a half of size over my normal shoe size. They also didn't seem much more minimalist than my Puma 917 lo sneakers.

10/01/11 @ 17:59
Comment from: CPTP [Visitor]
CPTP

The New Balance Minimus shoes have been popping up a lot around Army bases due to the Army putting the nix on 'toe' shoes. I know a couple guys, myself included, who wear these (i have a set of trails) for daily PT. We have to be sneaky about it though because the military wants you to wear socks. The solution? We cut the tops off a couple pairs of socks and wear them around our ankles. Not perfect, but keeps the brass off your back. I bought mine off Tactical Distributors, where they are currently %40 off (more if you are applicable for the military discount, and even more if you sign up for their news letter). Currently I think they are only offering the discount on their 'Wellness' and 'Running' versions. If you are looking to pick some up i'd take advantage of this sale. I'm picking up a pair for me and the wife.

http://www.tacticaldistributors.com/New-Balance

11/13/11 @ 08:47
Comment from: Gaby [Visitor]
Gaby

Good looking shoes. I wish the women's version came in better colors and had the same lattice design on the inside arch/instep area instead of the weird stripe/band.

Hoping for a pair of these for Christmas. If not, maybe the Spring 2012 line will be out in time for my birthday!

12/21/11 @ 22:44
Comment from: Utahguy [Visitor]
Utahguy

could anyone help me with fit?

I have the minimus trails and they fit me perfect. I have pretty narrow feet.

I tried on the road and they fit ok but a little more loose.

I needed size 12 in both of them. How do these fit in comparison to the others? also is the sizing the same (size 12 trail = size 12 life)?

I want to buy some but there are no local places that have them in stock

12/27/11 @ 12:00
Comment from: pradlee [Visitor]  
pradlee

I've been wearing NB Minimus Lifes for 6 months now, walking/running about 20 miles a week, and I've seen lots of wear on, oddly, the right sole only. The sole has completely worn through in several spots along the edge of the toe and the tread pattern has been entirely worn away in the forefoot area, though this hasn't happened to the left sole. Don't know if this is due to a production/design problem or if I just drag my right foot a lot (I'm not aware that I do at all). I plan to repair the holes and continue to wear the shoes, as I find them comfortable, easy to slip on quickly, stylish, and suitable for casual, everyday wear.

I've had some fit issues as well. Though the length is good (in Men's size 9), my foot tends to slide from side to side and the elastic on top of the shoe does little to tighten the fit.

I wear the Minimus Lifes with socks, because, as Justin mentioned, the label on the inside of the shoes tends to stick uncomfortably to my feet. When wearing socks, though, my toes feel cramped.

For those of you looking for these in stores, I found mine at a specialty outdoors/natural/'green' goods stores.

01/22/12 @ 21:57
Comment from: Greg [Visitor]
Greg

I haveworn the black ones w yellow trim frequently for walking and some running for a year w/0 discernible wear. I have washed them several times. I also own Nike Free Run Plus which are much more cushioned and have broken down more. I still love the Minimus Life and use any excuse to wear them.

02/01/12 @ 02:05
Comment from: Marvil [Visitor]
Marvil

Are these discontinued now? Can't find them anywhere.

03/10/12 @ 04:59
Comment from: Michael Dixon [Visitor]  
Michael Dixon

This shoe is like a slipper. I'm sad to see it discontinued as I have used it for everyday walking and running for the last several months. I just raced the Boston marathon using them with thin socks and my feet are in great condition. Even considering the fact that I was drenched the entire race... it was a bit hot ;) Love them and I will stock up before all the stores run dry. Thanks for the review!

04/18/12 @ 16:53
Comment from: Nathan Perry [Visitor]
Nathan Perry

These are amazing! my favorite pair of shoes i own. Birthdayshoes is basically how i buy my shoes now. Every review has been spot on. Keep up the good work!

04/20/12 @ 11:41