Training means so many different things to so many people these days. As crosstraining has broadened and become more diverse, the act of training has become somewhat ambiguous, which has left the purpose of many training shoes to be questionable. Sometimes it’s intentional and other times, the intent is murky, but often, finding training shoes that can really be used for a multitude of purposes without degrading in quality is like hunting for gold – but not every manufacturer leaves its footwear so recklessly devoid of specific meaning.
New Balance has become one of the foremost authorities in training, particularly with its Minimus category, a concept that has emphasized footwear that allows the foot to carry heavier loads in order to strengthen the body in a more organic fashion – basically strategically giving you less shoe in the right places so you can make more gains on and within you. In my experience, the New Balance Minimus series has done this with success, with my great emphasis being in their Minimus Training footwear – within this, the New Balance Minimus 20v3 Trainer stands out prominently.
Known also as the MX20v3 (“v3” as being the third version of the Minimus 20 Trainer, and visible in great detail here), it’s the best trainer you can find in the New Balance Minimus line – and quite possibly is the best training shoe in the company’s history.
The arch support in the v3 is great – it’s not too much and not too little, allowing for a bit of break-in to allow for a bit of molding as you get active in the shoe. The v3’s overall support is excellent as well, with a tremendous amount of credit given to its foot-hugging fit in the midfoot and heel. That support is achieved through New Balance’s use of bonded synthetic layers on its full mesh upper; those layers are strategically placed where the foot needs to be secured, but no place else, which allows the mesh to wrinkle and flex in the right places and encourage a well-ventilated environment within the shoe. Those overlays, as minimal as they are, are called Meta Support, which speaks to their ability to provide support to the foot through their relatively-minimal presence.
The grip and traction of the v3 is very good as well. That credit can be given to New Balance’s design of the outsole with the multi-hexagonal pattern and the use of Vibram rubber for the outsole; those elements encourage a discernibly good adhesion to the ground when you’re stationary, but allow for dynamic movements to be sharp and precise as you might require.
Lastly, the v3 introduces and maintains a high level of comfort and security, something that is hit-and-miss in minimalist footwear. The laces, eyestay, and tongue make for a smooth feel and virtually lock to the foot when all are secured. The inner lining is soft and offer a great feeling around the ankle. There’s no cramping of the toes, as the v3 has the best toebox I’ve ever experienced a shoe – ever; toe spread in the v3 is encouraged, not stifled, and it’s all the better for that.
Also, it can’t be understated just how important it was for New Balance to commit to engineering a true midsole and outsole for the v3. Prior models either did excellently with the combination midsole/outsole or somehow came up short, but the v3 is just right. Its foam is very dense, but still allows for true impact protection, making it a worthy weapon to wield during challenging runs and heavy-laden strength workouts alike.
As the end of it all, the v3 is the definitive vision of ergonomic footwear design in a training shoe. It’s the best, and there’s nothing anyone can take away from it.