There has been quite a bit of buzz around the return of the New Balance 101. The 101 was originally released in 2010 and quickly gained a faithful following of trail runners. Despite a niche favoritism, New Balance decided to discontinue the model and the 101 was replaced by the NB 110. Numerous avid trail runners were agitated with the decision and they informed New Balance of their displeasure. Fortunately, their voices were heard. Due to a substantial amount of feedback, New Balance chose to re-issue the 101.
I had heard tales of the NB 101. One of my co-workers went as far as to describe it as “the best trail shoe ever.” Hence, when I noticed it was coming back, I grabbed a pair and hit the trails.
Out of the box, the 101 feels snug through the heel and midfoot with a would-be wide toe box. The toe box would feel wide except for an overlay that comes across the lateral part of the forefoot near the pinky toe, creating a narrow experience in an otherwise wide forefoot. Due to my wider foot shape, I had to move to a 2E width and size half a size up. I spoke with several other runners and learned that one or two of them had to size up as well.
Before taking my 101’s on the trail, I was shocked to learn they were a 9mm heel-toe offset. Yet, when I slipped them on, I hardly noticed the high offset. On the trail, I found the 101 felt much more akin to a 4mm offset and performs accordingly. My typical midfoot strike felt smooth and uninterrupted by the high heel stack. In fact, I felt the heel stack height was helpful for bombing downhills. After a couple runs in the 101, I decided to run a couple downhills faster, and I was pleasantly surprised by the protection offered through the heel.
During technical downhills, I found a few sharp rocks that harmed my (perhaps overly sensitive) foot. Despite lacking the underfoot protection I was looking for, the rockplate offered a few benefits. First, it created a snappy transition through toe off, making it feel a little faster. Secondly, the pliability of the plate generated excellent ground feel that made the shoe feel a bit more nimble. I found that I enjoyed the 101 most on hard pack trails with some technical terrain. The lightweight and nimble feel of the shoe was perfect for picking my way through slightly rocky areas and on days when I wanted to push an uptempo pace on the trails.
• MSRP: $90.00
• Foot motion: Neutral
• Weight: 7.2 oz (Men’s Size 9.0) & 6.3 oz (Women’s Size 8.0)
• Stack Height: Low (16mm Forefoot)
• Heel-Toe Offset: 9mm (25mm Heel, 16mm Forefoot)