Despite what anyone might have to say concerning sport-specific sneakers, one of the hardest shoes for companies to master in today’s footwear industry is trail footwear. Why? Because fit and feel together must be integral with protection to achieve a high-level shoe.
In years past, to make a trail shoe meant simply beefing up the sole and upper of the shoe altogether. But now? Trail blazers of today have gotten more sophisticated. You likely want a shoe that doesn’t feel like a brick or something that doesn’t make your feet feel like they were covered in plastic bags and sopping wet after your hike or trail run. You want something more akin to a running shoe or a cross-trainer, something that will give you not only protection from the elements in which you tread, but also something that provides high-level cushioning and comfort. Something that make every step easier everywhere you go.
Fortunately for you, there is a shoe that possesses a good deal of all those things in protection, cushioning, and overall comfort, coming from Boston in the New Balance Minimus ZEROv2 Trail.
(See the full photo gallery here.)
Here are some necessary details to see that will be expounded on later, courtesy of New Balance:
The Minimus Zerov2 Trail is the shoe for you when you want to take the path less traveled. The Zerov2 boasts an aggressive outsole, sticky rubber and XL lug heights for greater traction and responsiveness, and a full-length REVlite® midsole; the cleat-like appearance gives some indication to the grip and performance this shoe offers. The Zerov2 also features added toe protection and heel support for those rugged runs.
/ 0mm drop: due to variances created during the development and manufacturing processes, all references to 0mm drop are approximate
/ Aggressive lugged outsole gives maximum traction for off-road activities
/ No sew material application
/ Sticky Rubber outsole is made of durable, tacky rubber for traction on slick surfaces
/ Synthetic Suede/Mesh upper
The v2 is a magnificent shoe for several reasons. One reason is that the fit of the shoe is practically ordained by the Minimus construction, which is set at zero heel drop; this zero drop means the rearfoot and the forefoot are on the same plane, which is uncommon in the vast majority of shoes, where the heel is set higher than your toes in a typical shoe. This is what makes the v2 specifically unique, because you’ll walk as you do when you’re barefoot, because your feet are on the same plane in your gait as well.
Suring up that aspect of the Minimus platform is the v2’s no-sew construction in the majority of the upper; the only seams come in at the heel counter and toebox, where those area-specific regions require extra protection for wear-and-tear. And speaking of the heel counter, it’s flexible, with no internal backing, so when you lace and lock your foot in the shoe, it can wrap around your heel’s shape for a more customized fit with no resistance.
An underrated aspect of the v2’s construction is the toebox, quarter, and tongue panels herringbone-weaved mesh, which provides a light and strong layer in those respective regions for comfort and reliable protection from dirt, mud, and other debris.
Capitalizing on all of this wouldn’t be as pleasant, of course, without the v2’s ergonomic shape, making the shoe more contoured to actual feet. This makes the v2 more comfortable and allowed New Balance to be more tailored in how the shoe fits for wearers; the benefits of this specifically mean that the v2 fits closer overall, in all the right places.
Simply put, the upper provides an excellent fit – provided that you set your lacing preferences up as you prefer.
As for the sole, it doesn’t disappoint. The REVlite midsole is uniform from heel to toe in full-length foam glory. It’s light, responsive, and it gives well. With that said, a light, airy foam like REVlite would be nothing for a trail shoe if not for the v2’s heavy-lugged outsole, which protect your feet heavily against all of the sharp-edged rock and other un-pleasantries of the path. From a feel perspective, the v2 holds up well.
Are there some areas of the v2 that could be improved? Sure, but not many. The REVlite and lug combination is great, but the inclusion of a thicker sock liner and/or the addition of a Rock Stop plate would’ve made the v2 a truly elite trail shoe. The thin insole, while very comfortable for less rigorous treading, is easily over matched in heavier terrain, when hardness and sharpness of objects typically increases. A heavier sock liner or New Balance’s Rock Stop plate (which shields the foot from damage below and also helps deflect impact and stress from taken steps more efficiently) would be a major improvement.
Also, a bit more padding in the heel would be nice for improved comfort, but that can be enhanced with wearing hiking-specific socks.
On the whole, the New Balance Minimus ZEROv2 Trail is one of the best trail shoes for a comfortable ride that’ll allow you to feel what you’re treading on without losing the protection you need – comfortably.