New Balance MO 10
NAME: James Kodaras
LOCATION: Asheville, NC, USA
HEIGHT: 6'2" (1.9 meters)
WEIGHT: 191 lb. (87 kilos)
Backpacking background: I started backpacking about 2 years ago. I am still learning how to make my pack lighter while still being comfortable. I mostly take weekend trips and go on about 2 or three week long trips a year. I live in the mountains of the southeast and hike in hard, mountainous terrain year round. I especially like primitive rarely traveled trails often causing my gear to take heavy abuse.
Manufacturer: New Balance
Web site: www.newbalance.com
Product: Men's Outdoor 10
Year manufactured: 2011
Year received: 2012
MSRP: US $109.95
Size: 11 ½ 2E
Weight listed: 7.3 oz (207 g)
Actual Weight: 8 oz (227 g)
Color: black with blue
Designed as winter minimalist running shoes, these make great backpacking shoes for those that like a light weight shoe rather than a boot. These shoes use the same minimalist sole as the mesh version but have a water resistant upper that keeps your feet dry as long as you don't fully submerge them.
Most running shoes don't have very good lateral support. The MO 10's do though, they have a strap that goes across the forefoot and keeps it snug to the sole when you are navigating rock outcrops and river beds. This feature also allows the part of the shoe in front of that strap to be loose and comfortable.
For water resistance the shoe uses a water resistant mesh and sewed the tongue to the shoe all the way up.
Traction wise, New Balance uses a Vibram outsole with a lot of tread to allow the shoe grip very well on all surfaces wet, dry, loose or firm.
I wear a size 11 normally, other New Balance shoes included, and I got size 11 ½ 2E (wide) in these. It allows my toes to be more free while I am still snug in the heel and forefoot. I also laced the shoes in such a way that they only tighten from the second set of eyelets up. I have found that if my heels and the balls of my feet are tight in the shoe I am the most comfortable.
I have been using barefoot shoes for hiking and backpacking since they have been out and I would not go on a long trek with a hiking boot ever again. I no longer get blisters or sore ankles and they give my feet more room to swell from lots of miles.
Location of test: Linville Gorge Wilderness: Linville Gorge Loop
Description of Location: The Linville Gorge Loop is a 22 mile loop along the East rim of the gorge, down to the Linville River across it, and back up to the east rim. Elevation changes from 1300 ft. to 4000 ft. Terrain is very difficult with lots of rock formations and primitive trails. Trail maintenance is minimal especially farther away from parking areas. This loop has steep climbs, descents, boulder hopping, and river and creek crossings.
Weather conditions: High: Day 1: High 57F (14C), Low: 32F (0C) sunny and clear. Day 2: High: 51F(11C), Low: 35F (2C) overcast with light rain and snow (none stuck). Day 3: High 48F (9C), Low: 30F (-1C) sunny and clear.
Trip Description with product:
These shoes are great for difficult terrain. Light and nimble I was able to climb steep slopes, keep my footing on slippery rocks, and walk long distances without discomfort. They kept my feet dry and breathable to the point that when my foot did get a little wet it dried quickly while still in the shoe. I did trip over a few things but having very light feet helped me recover with ease.
The shoes will allow your feet to get a little wet when submerged to the laces. I don't know if that's all shoes or if mine had a leak because it was only on one foot. The other downside is that these shoes are glued together more than most shoes would be to keep them light and smooth on bare feet ( I recommend socks). This means that they can come unglued where other shoes are stitched. together (the front of the toes on mine).
Summary: I am very pleased with the performance of these shoes. As far as barefoot shoes they have the best combination of wide toe box, the sticky rubber, lateral support, and water resistance. I choose to hike in barefoot shoes because I like the feel of being light on my feet and I don't need the impact protection I do for activities that require jumping and running. I would also like to note that my buddy in traditional well broken in hiking boots had several blisters each day.