We Found Three Great Replacements for the Discontinued New Balance Minimus


Trail runners, your quest for the New Balance Minimus replacement and alternatives ends here!

Imagine bidding farewell to the iconic New Balance Minimus whose minimalist design transformed your running experience. While the Minimus has gracefully exited the stage, a new journey begins as we uncover remarkable alternatives that have emerged in its wake.

In this article, we’ll embark on a quest to rediscover the joy of minimalist running with a fresh perspective.

Whether you’re a die-hard trail enthusiast or just dipping your toes into this exhilarating world, get ready to embark on a journey where rugged terrains meet innovation and comfort like never before.


Here’s a collection of some of the best minimalist running shoes on the market!

New Balance Minimus Replacement


Hello everybody, Eric Barber here from Steadyfoot, and today, I’ll be talking about some fresh alternatives to the New Balance Minimus. It’s time to explore a new chapter in your off-road adventures…

Let’s begin by revisiting the beloved Minimus so that we can better appreciate how the new options stack up in comparison…

What’s the New Balance 10v1 Minimus?

With a featherlight construction, a minimal heel-to-toe drop, and a snug, sock-like fit, the Minimus was celebrated for its ability to mimic the feeling of running barefoot while still offering a protective layer against sharp objects and uneven terrains.

It quickly became the go-to choice for runners who valued a more natural, unencumbered running experience and aimed to strengthen their feet and enhance their running form.

Now, let me talk about my experience with the Minimus…

The New Balance Minimus, an astonishingly lightweight trail running shoe designed for both barefoot and socked wear, emerges as a versatile choice for hiking and trail running in various weather conditions. With a 4-millimeter drop and an impressively wide toe box, they excelled in keeping my feet comfortable and well-ventilated.


Weight, Stack, Drop, Sizing

The New Balance Minimus typically weighed in at around 7 to 8 ounces (198 to 227 grams), depending on the size. This featherlight design was a significant draw for runners seeking minimalistic footwear.

The Minimus often featured a heel-to-toe drop of approximately 4mm, promoting a more natural and minimalist running gait. The shoe had a minimal stack height, with the midsole typically measuring around 16mm in the heel and 12mm in the forefoot.

New Balance offered various width options for the Minimus, catering to runners with different foot shapes and sizes.



What stood out most about the Minimus was their remarkable lightweight construction. It’s almost as if you were wearing nothing on your feet, making them ideal for extended walks, running, or gym workouts.



The upper was crafted to provide a snug, sock-like fit, enveloping your foot like a second skin. It featured a lightweight and breathable mesh material that allowed for optimal ventilation, keeping your feet cool and comfortable during runs. The upper was designed with minimal seams, reducing the risk of irritation or hot spots, making it an ideal choice for those long, blister-free runs.


Another commendable design element was the band across the toe box, which effectively prevented foot jamming during runs or descents, a feature not often seen in trail runners.



The outsole of the Minimus was designed to deliver reliable traction on various surfaces. This outsole was made of durable rubber compounds, providing longevity for those who embraced the minimalist running lifestyle.


The grip on the Minimus 10v1 was truly exceptional, thanks to the circular lugs that enhanced traction. This outstanding grip came in handy when I was navigating grassy hills or engaging in bouldering activities. Furthermore, their flexibility allowed me to fold them up and stash them in my backpack’s mesh pocket, making them a convenient on-the-go option.


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One of the most noteworthy aspects of the Minimus is their barefoot-friendly design, although they would be worn with socks for added protection. This feature was a boon for those seeking a lightweight, natural footfall experience during walks. Additionally, the quick-drying nature of these shoes made them perfect for wading across estuaries, as the materials readily shed water and dry swiftly. This set them apart from shoes like the Merrill Moab or traditional hiking boots, which tend to absorb water and take longer to dry.


What I didn’t like about the Minimus

While the Minimus offered initial comfort, it’s worth noting that the back of the heel on the left foot used to dig into my Achilles tendon. Therefore, breaking them in is highly recommended before embarking on an extended hike. Once fully broken in, they proved to be remarkably comfortable, despite their minimal padding.

The next that I didn’t like was that the sole was so incredibly thin. These were really good for smooth trails, wet trails, slippery trails, and trails with not many rocks on them. But as soon as you get to like a pebbly trail or one with really small sharp rocks on it, they’re going to dig into the bottom of your feet as you walk.

Another thing that I really didn’t like about these shoes was the fact that you couldn’t just slip them on. I really had to undo the shoelaces every time I put them on because the neck around the ankle was really tight around the top of your foot.

In conclusion, the now discontinued New Balance Minimus offered an impressively lightweight and minimalist option for trail running and hiking, with some unique features that set them apart from the pack.

While they came with a few quirks and required some breaking in, they delivered a fantastic barefoot experience and shone on smoother, wetter terrains.


Xero Shoes Prio


With excellent ground feel and a durable outsole, the Xero Shoes Prio can be a superb alternative to the New Balance Minimus, giving you a similar minimalist experience with added comfort and a generous helping of freedom for your feet.

Think of it as this do-it-all shoe for anyone who wants maximum durability for a minimum price.

The Prios offer an abundance of foot security, making them an excellent choice for trail and cross training. The Mesh panels provide efficient airflow, while the side guards prove handy for activities like tree climbing.

With a spacious toe box, breathable mesh upper, cross straps, overlay panels, and lace locks, the Prios blend comfort and protection. However, some users might find the slightly pointed toe box less to their liking.

Beneath your feet, a 5.5-millimeter sole features reinforced heels and two forefoot grooves, offering flexibility, and a semi-aggressive hybrid tread suitable for both roads and trails.

This 5.5-millimeter tread excels on rocky and gravel terrains, delivering solid traction while hiking and secure footing for hillside trail running. The padded heel ensures your feet remain comfortably in place, preventing rubbing and blisters.

During workouts, the Prio’s zero-drop sole provides remarkable stability, especially for weighted exercises like squats. The medium-wide toe box offers a snug fit, perfect for dynamic movements.

What stood out to me immediately about the Xero Prios was their well-balanced design. The sturdy sole is complemented by minimal lining, adding a touch of softness and making them comfortable for walking on pavement.

Despite the added protection, these shoes maintain an impressive level of ground feel and springiness.

In conclusion, the Xero ro Prios make an excellent choice for beginners transitioning to barefoot shoes or anyone seeking a versatile barefoot shoe.


Xero Shoes Mesa


Xero Shoes Mesa is a stellar choice that offers a harmonious blend of minimalist design and rugged durability. These shoes are designed to thrive on the trails, making them a great alternative to the New Balance Minimus for outdoor enthusiasts.

Being a fan of barefoot-style shoes implies a preference for foot flexibility, the sensation of the ground beneath your feet, spacious toe room, and the absence of excessive padding and insulation that tends to make your feet hot and sweaty.

I put these shoes through various paces beyond just trail running. I hiked in them, wore them around town, and even used them on a packed dirt hike-and-bike trail.

The Lesa’s minimal cushioning lends these to provide optimal ground feel while offering enough protection, which can be a tricky balance with footwear that need to appeal to the barefoot-style world as well as trail runners.



The Mesa boasts a delightfully airy mesh upper, a moisture-wicking lining, 3mm of embedded “trail foam” in the soles, and a generously roomy toe box to allow your piggies to splay. Not only is this breezy and quick-drying when wet, but it also offers a roomy and comfortable fit while maintaining an attractive appearance. The added strips of reflective material around the heels were a thoughtful touch.

The toe cap feels like it can take some abuse from rocks and roots and could also keep your own toenails from trying to escape, which has happened to me with other barefoot-style shoes.

On the inside, the Mesa comes with a 2mm insole for folks that need just a little more cushion. The insole is completely removable for an even closer-to-barefoot experience.

Personally, I prefer my Mesas without the inserts for more ground-feel.

If you’re looking for something that keeps your feet dry in water crossings, I do believe that Xero Shoes has a waterproof version as well.



The flexible 5mm thick rubber sole is designed to allow your feet to move in the way they are naturally inclined, while the zero-drop construction keeps your forefoot and heel consistently level, promoting balance and natural movement.

The sole sports 3.5-millimeter lugs, offering just the right amount of protection and grip on uneven terrain.

The lugs have this unique balance of providing traction as well as some give that allows them to get out of the way when not needed. The tread lugs somewhat compress to offer protection on harder, flatter surfaces such as on top of larger rocks.

This is great because it can be easy to provide overly aggressive tread that interferes with the ground feel of a barefoot shoe.

Some barefoot shoes with hard treads can feel like you’re always walking on the shape of the treads, almost like you have a twig in your shoe, but not as much with these. The treads are there when you need them and somewhat compress when you don’t. It’s hard to explain.



The Mesa is exceptionally lightweight, and vegan-friendly, and comes with Xero Shoes’s impressive 5,000-mile sole warranty, ensuring that if the sole wears out prematurely, you can replace the shoes at 60% off. Not only that but there’s a 24-month manufacturer’s warranty, assuring their durability despite their minimalist design.


In fact, the Mesa is likely to outlast most trail running footwear since traditional options often require replacement much sooner due to compressed cushioning and foam soles. With the Mesa Trail’s minimal padding, this shoe is a more sustainable choice from the start, resulting in fewer shoes ending up in landfills and less need for new shoe production.


Having tested these shoes extensively, I can confidently say that I hiked and ran in them on a variety of terrains, including beaches and trails, and I absolutely loved them. Their lack of extra fabric or cushioning prevented my feet from feeling cramped.

The sole’s thickness struck a perfect balance, allowing me to feel the ground while providing ample protection against rocks and pebbles. They were easy to slip on and off without fully unlacing them, yet they felt secure once properly tightened.

The gnarly multi-directional chevron lugs provided excellent traction on challenging terrain, making me feel confident while navigating various surfaces, from wet rocks to muddy trails and dirt roads. These lugs are pretty much the closest thing to cleats that exist in the barefoot footwear world.


Traditional running shoes often need replacing every 500 miles, while the Mesa Trail is built to last at least 5,000 miles – a significant reduction in shoe waste.

While it would be great to see Xero Shoes incorporate more recycled materials or pursue carbon neutrality as a brand, opting for footwear and gear designed for longevity is a major step toward sustainability.

In summary, Xero Shoes Mesa Trail shoes offer comfort, spaciousness, and breathability, and serve as excellent hiking or trail running footwear for those already committed to or curious about the barefoot shoe movement.

It’s a great option if you’re looking for a minimalist trail running shoe that provides that ground feel you want and the protection you need on the trail.


Merrell Trail Glove


The Merrell Trail Glove is a testament to minimalist running, offering a captivating alternative to the New Balance Minimus. Its design embodies the purest form of barefoot running, providing a low heel-to-toe drop, a breathable and flexible upper, and a wide toe box that encourages natural toe splay.

Merrell Vapor Glove 6: A Letdown in Barefoot Running Shoes

When Merrell released the Trail Glove 6, it faced a barrage of mixed reviews, to say the least. Intended as a minimalist barefoot-style trail runner, the shoe took an unexpected turn with a harder, narrower sole and an extreme arch support. To compound the problem, criticism flowed in regarding the shoe’s subpar construction.

Just like nearly everybody else, it wasn’t long before my pair began to fall apart, displaying holes in various parts of the mesh and glued sections that couldn’t withstand everyday wear. The multitude of exposed edges and separate pieces made them prone to peeling.

Adding to the woes, the soft foam wrapping around the arch extended so far down that it became an easy target for wear and tear on the trail.

The 6 had a narrow midfoot that pushed the arch rather aggressively into the foot, which, after much wear, I eventually got used to or possibly broke in. But initially, it wasn’t a comfortable feeling

However, credit must be given to Merrell for the Trail Glove 7, which addressed the issues plaguing the 6 and introduced a new design, notably the single continuous outsole that also wraps around the arch.

Merrell Vapor Glove 7: The Savior of the Vapor Glove Franchise

The new 7s, in contrast, boast a wider midfoot and a less pronounced arch, making them an excellent transitional shoe for those interested in the barefoot footwear experience. They strike a balance with just enough density and support to prevent every stick and rock from causing discomfort underfoot.

Other notable features include a substantial wraparound toe cap that’s less susceptible to peeling, an extended mudguard, increased ankle padding, and more user-friendly shoelace eyelets.


In terms of performance, the Vibram sole delivered admirably. Traction on soft dirt was excellent, and they felt stable on slick rocks. While the sole is relatively firm for a barefoot-style shoe, it offers just the right amount of flexibility to maintain a barefoot feel. This makes them a solid choice for transitioning into this style of footwear.

If you’re already accustomed to running or hiking in brands like Xero Shoes or Vivos, or in shoes that provide a heightened ground feel, the Trail Glove 7s may feel slightly stiff and less flexible. However, if you’re seeking a balance between support and protection, these shoes are an excellent choice.

To put it simply, the Merrell Trail Glove 7 have become one of my favorite all-around shoes for both on and off the trail. Merrell has clearly listened to feedback, gone back to the drawing board, and crafted an improved shoe. If you were once a Trail Glove enthusiast but were deterred by the 6, now is the ideal time to give them another try.


In conclusion, the New Balance Minimus was that superb choice for those seeking a lightweight and minimalist trail running experience. Its wide toe box, exceptional grip, and rapid drying capabilities made it a standout in the realm of barefoot-style footwear, despite a few initial breaking-in challenges and limitations on rocky terrains.

For those in search of alternatives with similar attributes, Merrell’s Trail Glove series, Xero Shoes Prio, and Mesa offer a diverse range of options, catering to various preferences within the barefoot running community.

There you have it, these were New Balance Minimus replacements and alternatives. Give them a try!

About Eric Barber

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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