I secretly think that Chris Wawrousek (the Lead Designer for New Balance) is like Tony Stark. Except the former has many more like-minded people on his team. Like how Stark constantly innovates the Iron Man suit to wrap nicely around him, Wawrousek innovates the New Balance Minimus HI-REZ to wrap comfortably the feet of runners.
Mainly made for the road (the labels do warn against the rocks and pebbles), the Minimus HI-REZ seeks to amplify the runner’s experience. What Wawrousek has done to this make of the Minimus collection was to totally change the mechanics of the sole. You will see 42 independent lightweight hexagonal midsole pods mechanically bonded to a tough yet flexible fabric base. The pods provide great grip which offers us a great mix of durability and shock protection. Some pods are given additional outsole rubber to give extra resilience and traction.
The flexible fabric base on the other hand allows the shoe to move AND flex in unison with the foot. The upper is made of skeletally engineered FantomFit material with a support structure fused to a single layer of breathable mesh, giving the foot crucial lightweight support. With all Minimus, this pair encourages you to go sockless with minimal seams created to fit the barefoot comfortably.
“How light can a pair of shoes get?”, I thought to myself. Greeted by a uniquely designed shoebox, I got excited to see what this pair was all about. The truth is, I have never seen anything like that before. The team is bold enough to take away much of the cushion which is conventional and much sought after by most runners.
I wanted to get use to this revolutionary pair and so I started to walk this pair to my workplace and casual events.
I wasn’t very impressed by the looks because it looked… way too simple. Yet the mix of white thin rubber layer that holds the shoe and orange hexagons caught the eyes of many. We are talking about both non-runners and runners stopping to shower compliments to the looks of the HI-REZ. So apparently this pair scores high in the looks department.
From afar, some said they thought I wasn’t wearing shoes and just stuck orange stickers on my feet.
So as Wawrousek predicted, yes, I started to wear this everywhere regardless of whether I was running in it or not.
But let’s get down to slightly more serious matters, the feel.
I put the kicks to the test by first doing some road and track work. This pair has got some serious affiliation with the ground. I was able to feel the ground, which I totally love. As much as I felt the ground, I didn’t feel as much shock as the pods did sufficient to protect my legs from it. There was great traction with the track and roads even though the ground was wet.
But here’s what I didn’t feel comfortable initially; the fabric base actually got damp because of the wet ground. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my runs in them. It pays that I usually go sockless in them and is not affected by the damp base. After a while, the fabric base dries up quickly so all is good.
I also enjoyed how the fabric base flexed with my foot. The fabric base flexes in ALL directions (not just ONE, pun unintended). The upper is so well engineered that it perfectly fits the upper foot. The upper mid holds so nicely that it gave me more support while I continually flexed my mid foot during runs.
Wearing a Minimus does put my legs’ strength to the real test. It definitely does compel me to work on drills so as to improve running posture and efficiency. Afterall, it’s made for barefoot running.
- “Very light” is an understatement
- Lightweight midsole pods provide great protection!
- Wraps feet excellently
- ZERO heel drop
- Vibrant colours make your running and walking look real good
- Can’t run these on trails where rocks and pebbles are bountiful. It can be quite painful!
End of the day, these new kicks will set you walking in them and running a lot more.
“No gimmicks here: just good old fashioned running!”
Where to buy?
The HI-REZ is available at all New Balance Concept Stores and Running Specialty retailers at S$165. HI-REZ is only available in Men sizing in Singapore and ASEAN.