New Balance 100
New Balance MT100
40 (January 2010)
I have to admit that I approached the 100s with a lot of skepticism. I absolutely love my New Balance 790s, and felt no real need to try other shoes. I was seriously disappointed that New Balance dropped them, and wasn’t looking forward to an “improvement”. I spend most of my time running in more minimal footwear, but the 790 was all I needed for longer runs and ultra events.
But I couldn’t pass up the offer to give the 100s a try when it presented itself. First impression was luke warm. I immediately honed in on the sole, which seemed quite stiff. I rolled my eyes at the trademarked Rockstop(tm) imprint – I still don’t get stiff soles. The shoe even made a crunching sound when I pressed the toe in! It still does after 30ish miles, but I think its just the insole separating. I was cautious.
However, I quickly took note of the upper – the beauty of the shoe for me is in the upper. It’s incredibly lightweight and breathable. If you hold it up to a light, the light passes right through it – almost transparent.
That is a big positive, and I think this shoe will be great in warmer weather… incredibly breathable.
After a number of winter runs, I am warming up to this shoe quite well. They are certainly more lightweight than the 790s and I like that. The upper is everything you want in a minimal shoe.
The verdict is still a bit out for me on the sole, but it seems to be working. It has a heavy lug than the 790 had, and seems to have more rock protection built in.
The vast majority of trail runners will regard that as a plus (I don’t see a need). I like the fact that the 790s didn’t pick up mud easily and I’m curious to see how these do in the spring. The 790s have more overall flex in the sole, and more of a “curve” rather than a “bend”. The 100s have more forefoot-focused flex.
Above: flexing the 100s.
Above: flexing the 790s.
I did one split run in 100s and 790s to give them a more direct comparison, 790s first and then switching into 100s. The first thing that caught my attention is that the 100s are definitely more narrow. I’m comparing the same nominal size, and this pair of 790s has barely 10 miles on them, so little if any stretch.
It’s somewhat apparent in the photo, but I felt the difference immediately when I slipped into them. I even switched back after completing the run and felt the roominess of the 790s. Another key difference I have started to feel up around 13 miles is the difference in ankle material:
The 790s have a pad, and the 100s have a foam-like surround. The 100s are arguably easier to slip into, and I imagine the foam gives the shoe a bit more body when the upper is so lightweight and flimsy. But in ultra-level mileage I worry a bit about whether the foam will rub too much and cause blistering. I think I prefer the padded material.
The summary for me is that the 100 is a fantastic lightweight trail shoe, and I will continue to run in these for lower mileage, and see how they do up into the teens and 20s. The upper is incredibly comfortable, but a bit more snug than the 790s. At this point I don’t see myself doing ultramarathon distances in these due to the ankle, and the snugness – I don’t think my feet would survive a lot of swelling in these. But training runs will bear that out. But its a no-brainer for shorter trail running – very, very comfortable.
Disclosure: I was provided a pair of 100s for testing/review purposes, with the not-surprising expectation that I would blog and tweet about them. I have also spent a lot of my own money on New Balance gear.