New Balance 101

8.0
8.0 score
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New Balance 101 Review Facts
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After much anticipation, New Balance has finally reintroduced the NB 101 trail shoe. The New Balance brand had a primary goal of bringing back a valued shoe with some enhancements, and have taken the new version of the 101 to the next level. Runners will realize almost immediately that this shoe was built to last in its natural terrain, while keeping the runner feeling light and comfortable at all times. Being considered a competitive trail shoe, the New Balance 101 will have the features needed to handle the complex terrains while feeling lightweight. Whether you decide to use the New Balance 101 for your daily hike, trail competition, or rock climbing, you will ultimately become satisfied with the results you gain using the shoe.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Lighter than most trail shoes
  • Breathable
  • Durable outsole
  • Protective toe area
  • More comfortable than the original model
Cons
  • Subpar padding on the collar
  • Runs tight in the forefoot
  • Midsole is too thin for some runners
Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

It won’t take long to realize that the outsole of the New Balance 101 was engineered for the trail environment. New Balance applied the AT Tread Outsole, which is a bed of rugged lugs that are designed to handle the toughest of terrains while avoiding damage and creating reliable traction. There is a composite rubber compound that also contributes to the traction of the New Balance 101. Like other New Balance trail shoes, there is a rock plate in between the outsole and the midsole; shielding the underfoot. The outsole is arguably the most durable part of the modern New Balance 101 because it will be put to the test against some of the most complex surfaces.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

The midsole is made with New Balance’s ACTEVA material. This foam-based material runs from the heel to the forefoot and is considered 12% lighter than the EVA that is used in other running shoes on the market. For some reviewers, the midsole was one of the more disappointing features of the New Balance 101. This was mostly due to the midsole’s thin nature and lack of protection against the impact of the ground that occurs after foot striking.
Upper
Upper

Upper

The New Balance 101’s upper is arguably the most improved part of this model. The stretch mesh fabric used in the upper provides a comfortable fit and adds a level of breathability for the runner. Another part of the upper is the durable overlays. These overlays provide added stability to the New Balance 101. There is a toe guard in the forefoot to protect the toes from conflicting with rigors of your preferred terrain. It is very likely that runners will become appreciative of this shoe, mostly because it will prevent them from stubbing their toes on a hard rock or log in the middle of the woods. New Balance also uses laces made with a high quality texture. This feature will deter the laces from coming undone, so runners don't get distracted or trip on their laces and possibly get hurt.
Weight
Weight

Weight

Weight will be one of the more appealing factors of the New Balance 101 trail shoe. The men’s version comes in at 7.6 ounces while the women’s will weigh 5.9 ounces. These are very light measurements for a trail shoe, which long distance runners should take joy in. Most trail shoes weigh heavier than the traditional running shoe because added protection is needed in order to protect the foot from conflicting with the rugged terrains. With the New Balance 101, runners will feel both light on their feet, and protected.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

Runners will be able to embrace the breathable coverage provided by the New Balance 101. The stretch mesh upper not only wraps around the shoe’s original shape, but it also opens holes that will bring air in and out of the fabric. The best part is that the air holes aren’t too wide, so runner’s feet won’t be too wet when running through puddles or mud pits. While the overall breathability is average, runners will be happy to know that their feet won’t overheat during hot summer days.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

Those that have experienced the original New Balance 101 will almost instantly notice that this version feels a lot more comfortable. There is a newly engineered collar within the NB101’s upper which adds comfort to the ankle and surrounding areas. With the assistance of socks, having a layer of cushioning in the ankle area will help prevent things such as blisters and burns that are typically caused by the shoe’s fabric rubbing against the skin. The cushioning in the midsole is fairly decent; it has a slight plush feel but nothing worth noticing. The fact that it is so thin doesn’t allow runners to gain more cushioning while their feet hit the ground. The stretch mesh upper is also comfortable. It wraps around the the entire foot and allows runners to move their toes around. The fit is very fair and secure, so those who wear the shoe won’t feel suffocated due to a tight fit, unlike other trail models that run small.
Style
Style

Style

The NB 101 looks like a modern day trail shoe. It essentially looks like a running shoe with lugs on it. The New Balance logo sits right in the middle of the shoe, with “101” placed on an angle right before the heel. The outsole lugs are clearly visible when looking at the shoe from the side, so those who are shopping for a new pair of shoes will be aware that the New Balance 101 is meant for the trail. Unlike most trail shoes, the NB 101 doesn’t look bulky, even though it does contain a lot of protection. It has a racing look, but contains the tools of the average trail shoe. The most commonly seen women’s version usually comes in a red/grey/black combination, and the men’s version is available in neon green/black/grey.
Durability
Durability

Durability

Durability is always a must for a trail running shoe, and the New Balance 101 delivers. The AT Tread outsole is extremely durable; laced with aggressive lugs that are meant to take on loose and hard surfaces alike. No matter how often runners decide to pound against trail surfaces, the lugs on the outsole will stay where they are and refuse to wear down. The overlays that are attached to the upper also provide some durability. This part of the shoe essentially latches onto the foot and takes on foot movement with each stride. While these are tough features, the midsole can use some improvement on the durability side.
Protection
Protection

Protection

The New Balance 101 trail running shoe is properly equipped with features that will thoroughly protect the entire foot. New Balance decided to place a heavily reinforced toe bumper at the forefoot. This toe shield is puncture resistant, so you won’t hear of runners who got cut in the toe area because a sharp rock ripped into the front of their shoe. By having this layer of protection available, runners will be able to have peace of mind knowing their toes won’t be at risk as they test their limits throughout unstable territories. There is also the flexible rock plate named “Rock Stop” in between the outsole and the midsole. The Rock Stop rock plate was designed to protect the underfoot from getting bruised by the rigorous terrains that typically come with the trail environment. It will eliminate bone bruising and “stingers” that often happen when a runner hits the hard terrain the wrong way.
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

Responsiveness is considered above average with the New Balance 101. It is expected to be present so that runners can feel energized with each step, no matter where they’re running. A majority of the shoe’s bounce comes from the ACTEVA midsole. This lightweight foam material takes the impact from the ground and applies it to the runner’s next step. Since the foam midsole material is lighter than a percentage of other materials, runners will be able quickly move from one step to the next, and the ACTEVA will help them take their energy and apply it throughout the entirety of their run.
Support
Support

Support

It has been said by many that the New Balance 101 is more of a minimalist shoe than anything else. There isn’t much, if any arch support present in the shoe, so it’s safe to say that the New Balance 101 is best suited for neutral runners. The soft mesh upper wraps around the entirety of the foot, providing reasonable support to the runner’s feet.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

Mountain climbing. Hiking. Trail running. These are the types of surroundings where the New Balance 101 will be most valuable. The dominant mixture of a lightweight feel with exceptional traction will help runners go full speed in rough terrains such as the woods or an unstable rockbed. The New Balance 101 has a lightweight feel with an aggressive outsole, so runners will be able to go running in the woods, up a mountain, through the mud or grass without slipping and becoming unbalanced in the process.
Price
Price

Price

For a trail running shoe that offers exceptional protection, the retail price for the New Balance 101 is fairly reasonable. This shoe can be found for just under $100 for both men’s and women’s versions. Being priced at less than $100 will work in favor of New Balance, as runners will be more than willing to spend the money once realizing what the shoe has to offer.
Traction
Traction

Traction

Shoes built for the trail need to have high quality traction in order to be considered an above average trail shoe. New Balance’s AT Tread Outsole lug system is made to take on some of the toughest terrains in the world. Its proven traction reinforces the fact that this shoe can be used on rocky mountains, or woods that host medium sized rocks and branches. When looking at the outsole, you can tell that these aggressive lugs were designed to tear into the ground and keep the runner moving. There is a composite rubber also on the outsole that does an excellent job at gaining grip on the ground. No matter where you’re running, the New Balance 101 will make sure that you aren’t slipping or sliding into disaster.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

There is a mild sense of flexibility in the New Balance 101. One of the features that promote flexibility in this shoe is the Rock plate. The thin upper material allows runners to move their foot around naturally without the hindrance of restriction that happens to some shoes that have a sturdy structure. The shoe isn’t very stiff, which is good news for runners who enjoy their freedom.
Stability
Stability

Stability

There are strong overlays on each side of the New Balance 101 that are used to create a sense of security for the runner. In the new version of the NB 101, there is a piece of EVA that is connected to the sole of the upper, which provides better security and a firm hold of the midfoot. Having overlays that are directly connected to the This feature will keep the runner’s feet in place no matter how hard they are running in their aggressive terrains.
Drop
Drop

Drop

The drop for this shoe is measured at 10 millimeters. This measurement is average for most traditional running shoes, so wearers will feel low to the ground when using the NB 101. This won’t necessarily affect runners is a positive or negative way, as the drop isn’t out of the ordinary.
Key Features
Key Features

Key Features

• Rock Stop rock plate
• Lightweight ACTEVA midsole
• Comfortable mesh upper
• Puncture resistant toe bumper
• Padded collar
Bottom Line
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

A modernized version of the original 101, this trail running shoe can be extremely beneficial to a dedicated trail runner. The New Balance 101 has been tried by dozens of testers, and a high majority of them have come back satisfied with the tools they were offered. Being a comfortable lightweight trail shoe, the New Balance 101 will become a valuable asset to anyone who likes to go off onto the trail often, at a fast pace. While the NB 101 might not be for the runner who prefers long distance runs, it will do well for the casual runner. New Balance is determined to help consumers achieve their goals. With the NB 101, runners will be able to go across their selected trail without hesitation, as they will feel light on their feet and have an extraordinary grip at their exposure.