It should be no surprise that a New Balance shoe has made it onto a listing of our favorite shoes for any kind of athletic training. The comfort and quality focused brand seems to receive top marks on just about any list we have here on Shoe Guide. This is not on purpose, but is for good reason. Their shoes are simply built with the consumer in mind.
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While they’ve been around for over 100 years, it has only really been in the past few decades that their extensive popularity has experienced a massive period of growth. This growth is due, in part, to the options they have provided. These choices span across many activities, sports and athletic mediums. CrossFit is no exception to this, and their New Balance Minimus 20v7 is an amazing option for CrossFitters looking for a more minimalist workout shoe.
Notable Features of the New Balance Minimus 20v7
The Minimus 20v7 are a little on the expensive side when compared to some comparable alternatives in the minimalist CrossFit shoe game. However, the added expense comes with the benefits of ample feature sets, high-quality, long lasting design, and impressive levels of support and comfort.
The 20v7’s uppers were manufactured from nylon-infused yarn (you read that correctly). This makes the material feel a bit like a mix between a comfortable sweater and a pair of nice blue jeans. You may be wondering if this affects breathability. It doesn’t! Thanks to mesh windows located in the sides of the upper, wearers are provided extensive ventilation through even the most intense of workouts in the summer heat. However, this comes with a downside, which we discovered over time, and is mentioned below.
The rubber sole is Vibram, and is incredibly thin. Regardless of its thickness, the sole of the 20v7 provides all the necessary support, stability and durability that is come to be expected of Vibram. It does all of this while ensuring the shoe stays lighter and less bulky.
These shoes also have asymmetrical (New Balance refers to this as “asym”) collars that mold perfectly to the shape of the top of the foot. This adds to the snugness and comfort that is sometimes lost in other shoes with asymmetrical collars.
With all of the above, as well as an extensive list of style and color options available, there was no doubt in our minds that we needed to grab a pair of these to test out.
How We Tested
We wanted to ensure that we were performing an acceptable number of “workouts of the day”. This would help to make sure we received a well-rounded example of shoe performance, and that this performance was adequately tested under a mix of circumstances and scenarios. What this meant is that, for the sake of time, we avoided WODs that were focused on the upper body. With that, we grabbed four great WODs that we performed while wearing the New Balance Minimus 20v7.
- The Burpees and Push-Ups in Fives WOD: This intense WOD comprised of five sets of three high-intensity exercises: Five Push-ups, five burpees, and then a 200-yard sprint.
- The Ten-For-Ten WOD: In this incredible WOD, we performed as many sets as we could of ten reps on the following types of set: kettlebell swings, box jumps, and ring dips. This was done for ten straight minutes, without any rest in between.
- The SPPR (Squat Press Pull-Up Run) WOD: The brutal squat press pull-up run workout of the day consists of three sets of each of the following exercises: ten pull-ups, eight push presses, and 12 front squats. Once you do these three exercises, follow it with a 200-yard sprint and you are good to go.
- The Ten to One Countdown WOD: Do ten dumbbell thrusters, along with ten kettlebell swings. A dumbbell thruster is when you hold lighter dumbbells in front of your chest with both hands. Then, squat and stand straight, raising the dumbbell overhead simultaneously. Perform ten reps of each, rest, then do nine, rest, eight, rest, all the way down to one.
The above four workouts, when combined with necessary rest between sets and exercises, comprised over an hour of high-intensity interval conditioning and training work. This was ideal to perform a well-rounded test in the elements to ensure that these durable CrossFit shoes provided the durability that we expected them to provide in both indoor and outdoor environments.
Testing Results of the Minimus 20v7
Needless to say, we were incredibly impressed with the New Balance Minimus 20v7. They were the perfect combination of everything we could have hoped for in a barefoot-style, more minimalist CrossFit shoe.
The upper materials provided impressive levels of breathability, even though we felt the non-mesh sections of the upper seemed to be a little bit thicker than mesh-type materials in competing shoe uppers. Also, even with far thinner soles than other CrossFit shoes we tested when finding the “best”, we experienced absolutely no lack of comfort, and no lack of traction, as a result.
This option is by far one of the lightest workout shoes we have tested. This increases overall breathability, while also having a positive net effect on the comfort level, while simultaneously decreasing fatigue when traversing far longer workouts.
However, we experienced a potential hit in durability. While it may have been an isolated issue, we still felt the duty to note this in our Cons list located a bit further down. Regardless of this, we have used this as a pair of daily wear shoes for a while now, shining in more than just CrossFit workouts.
Pros and Cons of the New Balance Minimus 20v7
It doesn’t matter if you make a shoe that is ideal for half the population of the world, there are going to be kinks. There will be pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages. Despite the effort put into the Minimum 20v7, they are no exception to this credo. While testing, we found some of these pros to be quite present, and some of the cons to be glaringly apparent. Below is a breakdown of what we found after extensive research and testing.
- The noted thin asymmetrical collar works to ensure the highest possible comfort levels for this shoe. An impressively thin tongue adds to the levels of comfort while not adding bulk to the forefoot of the shoe.
- A thin sole is a great advantage. Add to this that they aren’t so thin as to cause issues when stepping into uneven or surfaces that are not uniform. (We expected these to feel similar to the Nike Free style minimalist shoe, where every pebble could be felt. This was surprisingly not the case.)
- These shoes are also very stylish. With a minimal design and a non-flashy style, we loved the muted upper. We ordered navy blue, and they came with slight red outlines.
- The shoes are incredibly light as well. A pair of New Balance Minimus 20v7’s comes in at a whopping 12 ounces. These are some of the lightest shoes made for exercise that we have ever used.
- When compared to some of the other CrossFit shoes we tested, including the Reebok CrossFit Nano 9, we were quite surprised at the lack of roominess and space in the toe box.
- When working out, there were a few times during box jumps and sprints (when the feet would shift in the shoe more) where we felt like we were a little bit cramped.
- While this may be an isolated issue, we wanted to ensure it was brought up. After several wears, the glue holding the sole to the bottom of the shoe started to fail, causing a bit of the sole to come undone on the outside middle.
Three Months Post-Purchase Results
After three months of regular-to-heavy use, we like to reflect upon our purchase and provide any updates to the quality of the shoe after many wears.
These shoes, overall, have been great. We have been wearing these as our everyday shoes for several months now, and have experienced minimal issues. The isolated issue we experienced and noted above has not gotten any worse.
In our own surprise, the soles have not worn significantly due to overpronation and extended wear. We expected to be throwing these shoes out after a few months of walking several miles per day in them, over gravel and pavement, sidewalks and carpeting. This was not the case. Things are going strong and there is still a good amount of tread remaining on them.
A downside we have noticed is that, when these shoes get wet, it takes a while for them to dry. They soak up the water and filter it directly to the socks, then have a hard time keeping up to wick away the moisture. However, overall, we are incredibly impressed with these shoes for all purposes.
These shoes are wonderful, and a perfect option for those barefoot-exercise enthusiasts looking for a safe and secure, snug and comfortable option for CrossFit and beyond. They are comfortable, they are breathable, they are durable and stylish. The Minimus 20v7 is a wonderful option for far more than just CrossFit.
In the end, for the price point the New Balance Minimus 20v7 is at, we were more than impressed with what we received, and these remain our go-to shoes for everyday wear even months after we purchased them.
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For more CrossFit shoe options, check out our article: CrossFit Shoes – Find The Best CrossFit Shoe for You.