running shoes

New Balance 101 Minimalist Trail Running Shoe Review

by John - Expert Reviewer

New Balance 101 Minimalist Trail Running Shoe Review

New Balance 101 Minimalist Trail Running Shoe Review

Those who love the performance of New Balance shoes, particularly the 100 will appreciate it even more with the New Balance 101 Minimalist Trail Running Shoe. This features the successor of the 100 in a new shape and a cool color range plus the reliable features carried on from the original.

This shoe is an enhanced version of the 100 with noticeable improvements in its upper such as additional stability, extra lateral support, a longer tongue that gives more protection and comfort with more padding. It retains the original outsole with its excellent grip while it has a little modification on its midsole for added flexibility.


The New Balance 101 is an ultra lightweight trail running shoe that is suitable for neutral runners. Though some may classify it as a barefoot running shoe, it is not totally one since it does not compromise support and stability as most minimalist shoes do. It is low to the ground and gives a snug fit. It is an exceptional running shoe for difficult trails just like the 100 and in fact is, even, better.


It has a highly breathable mesh upper that keeps the foot dry, cool and fresh. It has the same Sure Laces of its predecessor. It has a roomy toe box that accommodates wider feet. The change in its upper is evident with an enhanced construction in its ankle collar that supports the Achilles tendon. It comes, primarily, with mesh supported by a light fabric material plus additional overlays. These provide the sufficient lateral support which was not as much as what the 100 had to offer. Running on technical trails with lack of this can pose a problem and the 101 corrects this.

With its new design, a prominent metatarsal wrap that is wider, extends from the joining point on the middle of the arch to the top portion of the shoe. This new development gives just the right amount of support while securing the foot in its entirety. This way, the shoe connects, easily, with your foot which, in turn, connects to the ground you run on.

The slight polymester mesh, layered over the fabric mesh on the ball of the foot and the outer side of the heel, gives additional structure to its upper and strengthens it to prevent blowout of fabric mesh in more wear areas. This shoe allows sockless wear with its new ankle collar minus the ridge, which could cause chaffing in the Achilles tendon. The 2mm high ridge that was present in the original shoe did not only prove useless, it can even result to scratched skin.

Its tongue has an additional lightweight material in the presence of a 2-inch second fabric at its backside. In front of the tongue is a half-inch width of material that, vertically, extends to its center that, further, keeps it laying flat over the feet.


This shoe incorporates the TPU-rockplate in between the midsole and the outsole that gives ample protection to the forefoot and the midfoot. It is made slightly dense to provide more flexibility to the forefoot, yet, the protection it supplies is not reduced in any way. As a matter of fact, it protects more against rocks, which come aplenty in some trails. On both the inner side and outer side of the midfoot, the midsole is elevated to give a moderate quantity of support.


The NB 101 retains the outsole of the NB 100 since it is reliable and efficient as it is. It has a 2mm thick midsole with 1 to 3mm thick lugs in the forefoot and midfoot while it consists of 5 mm lugs in its heel. The circular cutout design under the shoe comes with a purpose of reducing its overall weight. With this, you can see the rockplate in the forefoot. On the other hand, you can see the midsole foam extending from midsole to its heel.

The outsole of this shoe is more ideal for dirt trails with the traction and grip it provides. It is, likewise, suitable for wet running conditions.

It will be important to take note that there are other countries that demand more aggressive traction and grip with their running environment. In this regard, New Balance has created a different outsole in their 101s to cater to these specific needs.


1. It is super light with its weight of 7 oz.

2. Its new upper provides a better, snug fit.

3. It, quickly, dries up as it pumps out water as the foot moves.

4. It is more flexible than the original with a slightly denser rockplate.

5. It has a good grip on most types of surfaces and even in the harshest conditions.

6. Its improved ankle collar lessens rubbing of the Achilles tendon. It, also, allows you to wear the shoes without socks.

7. The addition of overlays provides a more durable structure, preventing the blowout of fabric mesh in areas of wear and tear.


1. The shoe laces get, easily, untied, so it causes some distraction, somehow.

2. The rubber in this shoe and in all other models has a peculiar smell that is not so pleasant.

3. The price is slightly more than the 100s.

4. With the design of its outsole, stones can, occasionally, get caught between the lugs.


The New Balance 101 is everything you like in a minimalist trail running shoe for a very few exceptions that are forgivable. It includes all the well-liked attributes of its forerunner, the 100. It has the same outsole that provides exceptional grip even on difficult, muddy trails while reducing weight.

It enhances almost every other feature of the original. Its new upper design gives more support and provides a more snug fit. Though the shoe’s mesh upper takes water in, it pumps it out, right away, with every movement of the foot. So, it can dry up, right away. The new metatarsal is wider and locks in the foot, more efficiently.

A more spacious toe box, on the other hand, accommodated wider feet. It, likewise, allows it to expand during impact. Its lightweight structure allows a better, high speed performance without compromising support and stability.

The new design of the 101 allows the foot to connect, effectively, with the trail. This, together with the ever reliable features the 100 is known for, is what makes it a shoe to behold, as presented in the New Balance 101 Minimalist Trail Running Shoe review.

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