Last year was a big year for minimalist and barefoot style running shoes – it will likely be remembered as the year when the less-is-more phenomenon went mainstream. Shoes like the Saucony Kinvara, Nike Free Run+, and Vibram Fivefingers Bikila hit the market and sold very well, proving to manufacturers that there was money to be made in minimalism. The Kinvara, for example, was a runaway hit among dailymilers (see our original Kinvara review here), and carried more than a few of us to personal best race performances (myself included!).
As a result of the success of shoes like those mentioned above, we are soon going to see a flood of new minimalist and barefoot style shoes arriving on the market in 2011. Since I write a lot of reviews of minimalist shoes on my personal blog (www.runblogger.com), I have been fortunate enough to have tried several of these upcoming shoes, and decided to put together a post featuring some of the more eagerly anticipated models. Here they are, grouped by manufacturer:
Altra is a small startup shoe manufacturer that will be releasing it’s first wave of shoes this Spring. The initial crop will include a trail shoe (the Lone Peak), a road shoe (the men’s Instinct and women’s Intuition), and a barefoot-style minimalist shoe (the men’s Adam and women’s Eve). Altra’s main selling points are that all of their shoes are zero drop, meaning that they have no heel lift (i.e., they are completely flat), and the shape of the toebox is designed to actually mimic the shape of a human foot (quite amazingly, very few shoes do). The Altra shoes are due to arrive in early April. For more information, visit www.altrarunning.com. Here are some photos:
Altra Instinct (men’s)
Altra Intuition (women’s)
Altra Adam (Men’s). The Eve for women is a similar design.
Altra Lone Peak
Shoe giant Merrell will be releasing a line of barefoot-style shoes in February 2011. Two of these, the Trail Glove (men) and the Pace Glove (women), are designed for running, and will be suitable for both on and off-road terrain. All shoes in the Merrell Barefoot lineup will be zero drop, and as a wear tester for the Trail Glove my early impression is very favorable. Think Vibram Fivefingers without the toe pockets (Vibram actually makes the soles of the Merrell barefoot shoes). For more information, visit the www.Merrell.com.
Merrell Trail Glove
Merrell Pace Glove
If you aren’t quite ready to jump into a zero-drop shoe (it can be hard on the calves and transitions must be made slowly), New Balance has a new line of shoes set to be released in March that retains a small heel lift (4mm). The NB Minimus Trail and NB Minimus Road are both highly anticipated shoes that New Balance has been marketing heavily for several months. I have run in both, and I suspect that both will be big sellers for New Balance. The Road shoe has a nice roomy toebox and a firm feel underfoot – it’s a solid choice as a transition shoe for those looking to migrate away from the typical lifted heel found on most modern running shoes. The Trail version sports a Vibram sole that will work on both trails and roads, and is very light and flexible. It benefits from the input of Ultrarunner Anton Krupicka – check out the video below. For more information, visit the New Balance Minimus webpage.
New Balance Minimus Trail
New Balance Minimus Road
Saucony is following up on it’s success with the Kinvara by embracing the low-heeled shoe design and incorporating it into several new shoes, most of which will share the 4mm raised heel of the Kinvara. The Saucony Mirage is like the Kinvara with a bit of stability added, the Cortana is a high-end shoe at a premium price, the Fastwitch 5 is a performance racing shoe, the Peregrine is a lightweight trail shoe, and the Hattori is an ultralight (4.5 oz), zero drop shoe built for speed.
Saucony Cortana – Picture from the Running Warehouse Blog
Saucony Fastwitch 5
Saucony Hattori – Picture from the Running Warehouse Blog
Pete is the writer of the Runblogger running blog, and is a member of the dailymile Team. You can view his dailymile profile here. For more information about shoes like those in this post, check out his minimalist running shoe guide.