New Balance Minimus Zero v2 Trail (Spring 2014)$110 | 8.8 oz | 0mm drop | www.newbalance.com
The Dirt: Be ready to hardly even recognize the second rendition of New Balance’s popular zero-drop trail shoe. A significant revamp has outfitted the Minimus Zero v2 with aggressive, 7mm-deep lugs inspired by the fell-running shoes of the UK—“these things have some massive teeth!” proclaimed one tester.
Burly outsoles aside, this shoe is as minimalist as they get—a highly flexible, barely there upper and threadbare cushioning that delivers ample connection to the terrain.
In addition to the lugs, an extended rock plate tacks on a little more weight, with the laudable intention of creating a truly all-terrain, minimalist shoe—and, for the most part, the shoe pulls it off. Said one tester, “It’s as if the shoe industry said, ‘Thanks for the ideas, minimalism. Now we’ve got it from here.’”
Best For: Zero-drop enthusiasts who yearn for a speedy shoe to tackle technical trails.
Traction: Excellent on mud, rocks and steep climbs; avoid pavement, compact gravel or long stretches of flat terrain. Reported one Pacific Northwest tester, “It has been raining here a lot, so every run has been some sort of mud fest or pool party, and the Zero v2 conquered them all.”
Fit: True to size, with a slightly narrower toebox than previous Minimus editions.
The Downsides: The upper lacks lateral support, so hard turns on winding trails may prove challenging.
Tester-Monial: “If I could sum up my thoughts about this shoe in two words, they would be ‘fast’ and ‘protective.’ It shines brightest on technical terrain where traction and control are crucial.”
–Linh Shark, Olympia, WA