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Reviews > Footwear > Trail Shoes > New Balance Trail Runner 1110 > Test Report by Andre Corterier
New Balance MT 1110 Trail Running ShoesTest Report by André Corterier
Initial Report 16 April 2008
Field Report 12 June 2008
Long Term Report 6 August 2008
Personal Biographical Information:
Year of manufacture: 2007 ?
Manufacturer: New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc.
MSRP: not listed on website
Shoe Size: 12 US, 46.5 EU, 11.5 UK, 30 cm - Width: D
The laces are odd in that their diameter varies, repeatedly constricting and expanding by a few mm (small fraction of an inch). I hope to be able to take a decent picture of them later, when I am again in possession of a functioning camera. For now one might consider them reminiscent of a sine-wave or an earthworm in locomotion, depending on whether one feels more inclined towards physics or biology.
There's a lot of stuff written on the shoes, which has had me shake my head for a while. For example, it says "toe protect" on - well, the rubber toe protection strip. I wonder who decided to put that writing there, and why. It also says "OFF ROAD" on the heel of these shoes which, given their rather aggressive tread, I hadn't assumed needed pointing out. But at least these and other superfluous writings on the shoe ("GORE-TEX®", "ABZORB FL", "BIOSHIELD", "ROCKSTOP 2") are relatively subdued - the shoes don't look like a race car covered with promo stickers.
The shoes are pretty much what I expected from the website - except that I hadn't believed they'd actually turn out that light in my size.
The soles are noticeably harder than I'm used to from the ones on my standard (non-trail) running shoes. I wonder in how much this will be an issue. Part of the reason I'm hiking in running shoes is that their comfort has had me laughing at people carrying "camp shoes" around. I hope I'll be able to maintain that track record with these shoes.
I find it much more important that even my left foot is now burdened down by about 10 % less than it used to - in a waterproof shoe to boot! (Ahem.) Rain and cold (and snow) used to be the few remaining issues which prevented me from considering my running shoes the cure-all for foot related problems in any and all hiking situations. I wonder how much further these will allow me to push that envelope. At any rate these are really lightweight and I'm really stoked about that. Having progressed a bit on my way towards lightweight hiking, my shoes (together) were the heaviest item I had on my packlist. No more! Cool.
Field Report:12 June 2008
I had initial problems with the ankle bone of my right foot pressing against the upper outside rim of the right shoe. This was quite noticeable for a while and even had me considering the option of inserts for a while - it seemed as though raising my foot by a few mm (a small fraction of an inch) would do away with the problem nicely (and maybe even provide even more comfort for the soles of my feet). I should say that this was a "felt" inconvenience only, I checked the skin on my ankle bone often and there was never any visible irritation. Plus I'm testing these shoes as they are, so I continued to wear them as they came, and though the problem (as much as it was, which is little) persisted for a while, it eventually went away. It's gone now. There isn't even a slight discomfort at the very beginning or end of a trip left which would remind me of it - it's just that I've taken notes as the test progresses. I have no idea whether the shoe's rim relaxed under the pressure of my ankle bone or my ankle bone got used to the pressure or a bit of both - but the shoes are now equally comfortable and fit without any pressure spots or similar issues.
The shoes have also been comfortable when running in them. I've had a problem with one of my knees for a while (a colleague of mine, in a self-defense course I was teaching, defended herself quite well) which meant that I've run less in them than I would have liked. Nevertheless, I've taken them for my standard evening spin of roughly 5K (3.1 mi) a few times. It's largely blacktop with some gravel and grass/dirt surface thrown in for variety, which I tend to cover in roughly half an hour. They were comfortable to run in, no problems. I also (once) did my fenceline run with it, which goes uphill for a bit, circles the German Ministry of Defence and goes back down to our house. That run has a good bit of inclination and consists mostly of a grassy dirt path, gravelled in some places, swampy (after a rain) in others. Again, the shoes were comfortable to run in under all of these conditions. I intend to run in them more regularly during the Long Term testing phase now that my knee is okay again, but do not expect any issues relating to the shoes.
On our long week-end excursion I spent a lot of time in these shoes, with a lot of weight on my back. Nevertheless my feet did not ache in the evening, nor was I loath to put them back on for another day the next morning. Even better, I discovered that they have a snooze function as well: When a co-hiker began snoring loudly at the other end of the half-open shelter in which we spent the first night, I launched a shoe at him. The balance of the New Balance MT 1110s is such that I managed a clean, flat trajectory which impacted the designated target area with just enough force to cause the recipient to turn over, thereby snoring less loudly and allowing me to go back to sleep. Wonderful.
Checking the shoes and my socks in the middle of that run proved that while some splashed water had entered the shoe by running down my legs, no water had come in through any other part of the shoes.
Moisture Vapour Permeability:
I've known for a while that my choice of socks can make a large difference for how my feet fare in my shoes. With these (waterproof) shoes I have found that difference to be amplified over my old pair of (non-waterproof) running shoes. Cotton tennis socks are *bad*. In anything more strenuous than a casual stroll, my feet get - and remain - sweaty. I thought for a while that the vapour transmission of these shoes was pretty low even with other socks, until I realized that the ones I was wearing also had a high cotton content. Apparently the cotton is so reluctant to let go of the moisture, that what little inhibition to evaporation the membrane provided was enough to create a very damp climate inside.
There was a marked difference to this when wearing wool/synthetic blend hiking socks and an even larger difference in thin synthetic socks. Wearing the latter, I was able to walk around in hilly country all day with a loaded child carrier on my back in temperatures up to 26 C (80 F) and medium to high humidity without my feet feeling sweaty. To be sure, the socks were quite damp when I took off my shoes for a quick dip in a river, but they weren't, nor had they ever felt, outright wet.
I am very happy with this finding. I was worried about my track record regarding blisters etc. (haven't had any in years). Enough so, in fact, that I took a pack of preventive blister patches with me, a precaution I had snobbishly spurned in the past. They came in handy for my daughter, so I'll continue to have some along, but am no longer worried I might need them myself.
The strongest "sweat" exposure these shoes have had was probably one day on which I helped a friend move - from a fourth-floor apartment to a third-floor apartment, both without elevators. It was quite warm (mid-twenties C - around 80 F) and medium humidity - and I spent several hours carrying weights up and down steep stairs. I used thin synthetic ("marathon") socks from a sports store in them and again found my feet and socks moist, but not wet after all that exertion (I had sweat dripping off my brow for much of that day). I am quite impressed by that and beginning to wonder whether these shoes might even be wearable over a longer excursion on which one doesn't expect rain at all.
The grip has in fact been better than I liked for a little while. After having received the above-mentioned kick in the knee from the side, my knee was quite averse to torsional loading. It was only during this time that I realized that I often lift only the heel of my foot and turn on the ball of my foot. This requires the ball of the foot to slide over the ground. This was not noticeable in other shoes, but these shoes seemed to grip the ground so well that I turned corners with several small steps for a while. Now that my knee is apparently back to normal, I no longer have issues with the shoes' gripping strength and very much appreciate the sure footing they provide.
In the two months that I've been wearing these shoes, I've had to retie them exactly once. I was quite surprised to find them slipping on that one day, as I had already begun telling everyone who wanted to hear about it (and possibly a few who didn't) how cool these laces are. I have no idea what caused them to slip that day, but to my mind their track record remains impressive nonetheless.
They've also proven to be quite robust. I have twice caught them on the mudguard of my bicycle. I've torn laces in doing so before, so was quite worried when I checked these. The abrasion they suffered is so minuscule that it does not show up on the picture I took - it is lost in the slight but universal fuzzying of the laces' surface. The latter will likely help the laces hold even better, but may also indicate an abrasion problem. I'll be looking out for that during the remainder of the test period.
Long Term Report:07 August 2008
Comfortable Temperature Range:
I find this to be one significant limitation on the overall usefulness of these shoes. It is also, I have to say, the only one I've found. It's a limitation in that I would not choose these shoes for trips where I'm reasonably certain it'll be warm and also reasonably certain that it won't rain - or in cases of longer trips, that rain will be a very minor issue overall. The dayhike on Fehmarn comes to mind. The weather forecast was a clear day with sun, sun, sun - who in his right mind would choose to go for a long, fast hike in shoes with a waterproof membrane on a day like that?
Well, I did, and sure enough - about halfway through the hike my feet began to burn. This is an itchy, hot sensation now familiar from an earlier, weeklong hike which saw me crossing an open plateau in blistering heat. The conditions on Fehmarn weren't as hot (mid-twenties C, low seventies F), but there was no escaping the sun all day and the sandy ground heated up over the course of the day. I was also not wearing my thinnest pair of socks (though they were thin nonetheless). So I spent some time over noon and several times throughout the afternoon airing out my feet, trying to cool them down, as well as walking in beach shoes or barefoot. None of which really helped to alleviate the problem much. But this is familiar to me from the past - the primary thing seems to be to avoid overheating my feet in the first place. No big surprise there.
So in the future the NB MT 1110s won't be my first choice in hot, dry circumstances. But then I assume they weren't given a waterproof membrane in order to make them anyone's first choice in dry surroundings.
I've run on blacktop, beaten singletrack paths, meadows, gravel, wood duff, sand beach and loamy soil. I've had serious slopes on paths and loamy soil, while the other surfaces were mostly flat - none more so than the beach. In each of these circumstances the shoes have given good grip and made me feel secure about my footing. Some of these circumstances I'd say were somewhat challenging, and the shoes rose to the challenge.
I was particularly glad about these shoes in respect to a set of repeat uphill sprints that I've tried out and will want to do at least once a week for a while longer. I run up a steep (to my mind - and calves) loamy slope in the woods and return via a less steeply graded curve to the bottom of the hill. I try to catch my breath again on the slow jog downhill and then sprint up again. In these circumstances, having shoes that were *light* on my foot and gave good uphill traction (a feature I remarked upon already in my Field Report) was excellent.
Another feature I appreciated is that the NB MT 1110s are tough where they need to be - particularly where I am concerned. My feet touch each other when I run. Even when I walk, apparently. I never notice this, but several pairs of hiking and running shoes I've had bear silent witness to the friction generated when one foot slides past the other in passing. The NB MT 1110s have taken this kind of abuse, ahem, in stride.
While I have a pair of dedicated running shoes that is more comfortable to run in, they actually weigh more and aren't waterproof. And I've never had reason to complain about any lack of comfort in these. My feet feel okay, even after a *long* run (okay, for me that's anything approaching 10K - say anything over 5 mi). So it's just that I know my pace could feel even more comfortably soft. Maybe it's me that's getting soft.
Again, there are running shoes out there (and even in my closet) which are even more comfortable to walk on. Yet even after long days of lugging a heavy child carrier up and down hills, my feet didn't hurt and they felt fine again the next morning. So I'm not complaining. Really.
These are easily the best all-weather hiking shoes I've worn, and I guess I'll be looking for similar shoes without a membrane for summer.
I particularly like the fact that the thick, stiffened parts of the outside of the shoes around the sole seem to have covered all of those areas which, at least in my use, were particularly abrasion prone. This has left nary a mark on the less rugged looking top surface of the shoes.
Given this track record, I look forward to running and hiking a lot more miles (even more kilometers) in these shoes and would hazard a guess that should the time come to retire these, I'll look for another pair of these to replace them.
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