New Balance Minimus Zero

by Charles Friday, March 2nd 2012

In 2011 New Balance released the MT10 and WT10 - a great minimal shoe with breathable mesh, good flexibility, 7.1 oz weight and a 4mm drop - a favorite with our staff and customers!

This spring New Balance is adding a new style to the MT/WT series that adds a 0 drop option - the MT00 and WT00 (Minimus Trail Zero). In addition to having no differential between the heel and forefoot the Minimus Zero has a number of other great features:


The synthetic upper is lightweight, nearly seamless (better comfort) and is reinforced in critical areas (for durability and to provide the structure needed to keep your foot stable inside the shoe).

Rubber only where it is needed on the outsole – this helps reduce weight and increase flexibility.

The ACTEVA™ midsole is a set of to a set interconnected ‘pods’ rather than a solid sheet – this also helps with weight and flexibility.

The MT00 weighs in at an incredible 4.4 ounces (compare this to the MT10 at 7.5 ounces)!

The features of the MT00 and WT00 combine to create a very attractive choice if you want a sensitive, minimal, lightweight shoe that lends itself to a 'barefoot' style of running/movement – and New Balance is offering these in a number of different width choices which will improve the chances you can get a great fit in these.

We have had Summit Hut staff members testing the MT00 - here are some impressions:

Logan Lichtenhan - ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, Crossfit Level 1 Coach, Summit Hut Floor Staff


As a huge proponent of the Vibram Five Fingers I am skeptical of most shoes and sometimes especially the ones that claim to be “barefoot” shoes. That being said I do like that there are more and more minimalist shoes out on the market that seem to really be trying to make a good option for people who can’t or won’t venture into the “weird” world of five toed shoes.

The New Balance Zeros are one of the best offerings I have seen in the genre of “barefoot” shoes, they real do have a very sensitive feel to them and allow the kinds of movement in the toe box that I prefer to have. I have not had them long enough to give an accurate durability test but so far they have held up to some trail running and a little rock scrambling. Their traction seems to be fairly good and definitely on par if not better than some other minimalist options that I have seen and tried.


On my first trail run with them I was pleased to find out that the ground feel was very similar to some of the Five Fingers. Segmented pods make up the thin foam and rubber sole allowing it to contour to the terrain, which for many is one of the main benefits of a minimalist shoe. On rocky terrain, which is the name of the game here around Tucson, these shoe definitely require the runner to stay focused. Because these shoes are so flexible and light each foot placement needs to be performed with accuracy and control in order to avoid discomfort. Some might see this as a hindrance I think it is a huge benefit. Many trail running injuries occur when a lapse in focus causes the runner to trip or land on a rock wrong, minimal shoes force the runner to pay more attention and plan ahead to avoid even minor discomfort. One of the main reasons I prefer minimalist foot wear is because it forces me to really pay attention to what my body is doing from the ground up.


The Zeros, as you may have guessed, also have zero heel lift so that the heel and ball of your foot are on the same level, there is no extra cushion under the heel. This puts your foot in a more anatomically correct position and discourages the impact heavy heel strike running stride. For me the only way to comfortably run in this shoe is with the lower impact fore foot running stride, another big plus to these shoes. They could be used as a training tool to help teach heel strikers to switch over. Another benefit to a zero heel differential is in weight lifting and various other athletic pursuits correct posture and a grounded foot are very important to keeping your body aligned and safe.

So far I have been impressed with the Zeros from New Balance. They are a well-designed step in the direction of a truly minimalist shoe that can be used as a multi sport cross trainer or trail runner. I think this is a definite win for New Balance and I look forward to doing a little more trail running and possibly Crossfit in them!


Charles Miles - Summit Hut Footwear Buyer

Over the past few years I have come to really appreciate the benefits of 0 drop footwear as I have worked to improve my running form and the MT00 is a great option. I have put both road miles and trail miles on my pair of MT00 and they have performed quite well - some of the details I have enjoyed:

-The weight: SO LIGHT, while I prefer more protection than these shoes offer for some runs/activities I think about these frequently because the weight is so attractive.
-My foot is secured nicely inside the shoe: With a very thin tongue and upper I initially wondered if it would be able to hold my foot in place on uneven terrain and during downhill runs - and if the laces would bight into the top of my foot. But it did no take long to realize that my foot was stable inside the shoe and the thin tongue was not a problem!
-Great for barefoot form: You can run with good 'barefoot' form in almost anything - but the sensitivity for the ground and zero differential between the heel and forefoot that these offer are certainly advantages when you are trying to maintain good 'barefoot' form.
-Good grip: The outsole is nicely sticky and the reduced amount of rubber compared to the MT10 does not seem to be a disadvantage.
After doing a number of shorter run/hikes in this shoe I headed up Agua Caliente hill in my pair of MT00 - I did just over 10 miles of running and hiking that day on fairly rocky trail - and, for me, this was really at the limit of what I am currently comfortable doing in the MT00. Certainly other New Balance options like the MT10 and MT110 are great options to keep in mind and have available since you may – like me – have trails, terrain or distances that the MT00 is not the best choice for!

One interesting detail to note is that water comes into this shoe VERY easily thru the bottom of the shoe - because it lacks a solid layer of material under the foot you may be surprised the first time you step in a shallow puddle and come away with wet feet!


Gear | Gear

Being A Warrior Princess is Tougher Than You Think

by Emily Monday, February 27th 2012

As a kid growing up in the woods, I fantasized about being a warrior princess: a powerful girl trained in the arts of survival and war, who could stalk soundlessly through the brush and skillfully ambush prey. I wanted to live in a house made of earth, fish in the river with a spear, wear clothes of sewn buckskin. In real life I kept a diary of my fake exploits by writing on birch bark with a burned charcoal twig. But the truth is, I could be living this way; in fact, I know people who do: folks who hunt their own meat, grow their own vegetables, and make their own clothes, their knapsacks, their baskets, their houses. I've seen how long it takes to make a buckskin dress. It's a lot of work. And, it turns out, so is the simplest of components in my childhood daydream: walking barefoot. When barefoot folks walk soundlessly, I don't think it's because they're trying to be silent; they just have to place their feet very carefully. I went for a walk in the desert to discover just how gently we have to walk on this world when we take away all the stuff between us.

It all started with a minor hamstring injury. I'd been attempting to rest my tweaky leg for a few weeks until I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to do something physical to get my ya-yas out. I'd browsed through some of the new books we have at the shop on barefoot running, and balked a little at the advice of both authors, that minimal shoes are no substitute for being truly barefoot. I've been wearing and running in my KSOs for years now, and always felt like I got a lot of feedback from the ground; I love how thin they are, and when I read this criticism of them, I really didn't believe they could be that different. I decided to use the down time on my leg to go for a slow, gentle hike on the Yetman Trail to see if they were right.

bowen ruin yetman trail 

The Yetman Trail, as it turns out, is not a great trail for a first-time barefoot hiking experience. I remembered it as being a flat, short jaunt to the Stone House on old soft dirt trail. In actuality, some of the trail is soft, with a dense layer of dust that's comfortable underfoot, but the majority of this trail is what should be expected from the Tucson Mountains: volcanic gravel. Barefoot folks who write books and blogs on the subject love to stress that your bare feet get a lot of "sensory awareness" that you just can't get through any shoe or sock. That's a really lovely way of saying that most things hurt. This stuff hurt. The trail also crosses the wash several times, which is a deep bed of pumice waiting to scratch all your calluses off. I walked barefoot for maybe a quarter mile before the soles of my feet started feeling raw and overwhelmed, and then I took my Fivefingers out of my pack and put them back on. For a moment, I thought: barefoot is bull crap.

yetman trail

But it was when I put my shoes back on that I realized Vibrams really do insulate your feet from the ground a lot. Suddenly my flimsy thin footwear felt like a couple of plush pillows. My feet were happy and cushy and protected, and Barefoot Ken Bob and Jason Robillard were right: being in shoes is an entirely different experience. I walked at a quick pace for half a mile before the trail smoothed out again, and I suddenly found myself itching to feel what the ground really feels like again. I took my shoes off, and lasted maybe another quarter mile before I had to put them back on again. So it goes. While walking at a (literally) painfully slow pace, I at least got let in on one of nature's little secrets: spring's first California poppies, hidden behind a rock a few yards off the trail. With my normal proclivity toward running or at least blazing forward to a destination, I probably wouldn't have noticed them. I found myself stopping a lot to take photos of all kinds of details on the trail. I was moving so slow anyway, what was a couple of seconds more to snap a picture?

first poppies

I went for a much more successful walk at Catalina State Park, where the trails really are smooth and soft, and all the wash crossings make it fun to get your feet wet. I still walked slow, and it wasn't exactly comfortable; I stepped on cactus needles a couple of times. But I started to appreciate how we take our comfort for granted sometimes. The earth is not soft; there are rocks everywhere, and the dirt is gritty, and there's plenty of detritus that will give you a sharp poke. Maybe it's not such a useless endeavor to learn to tread lightly.

barefoot in soft grass

Activities | Trails

2012 Fleet Feet Arizona Trail Race Report

by Charles Monday, February 20th 2012

The day started with a early morning departure to Colossal Cave Mountain Park for the 8 mile 2012 Fleet Feet Arizona Trail Race - it was cold as we got in the car and hoped that it would be just a little warmer by the time the race started. The start and finish is the La Posta Quemada Ranch, as we turned into the Ranch we immediately saw the start/finish line and runners warming up, seeing so many runners ready to hit the trail was exciting!

It is still chilly as we line up for the start - but in no time we are running and beginning to warm up. The start of the race winds around the road/parking area to spread everyone out before running past the Arizona Trail sign, thru the gate and onto the trail. After about a mile the temperature starts to feel perfect - this trail is a blast to run as it winds across and along Posta Quemada Canyon.  The scenery is gorgeous and the lines of runners on the single track create bright ribbons of color.

The layout for this course is great - a loop at the end of the course ensures that there is a minimum amount of time spent contending with runners trying to go both directions on the narrow trail (although you will have to step aside for the leaders if you run at my pace). To create the loop you turn off the Arizona Trail (a big thanks to the race staff for such great directions at all the intersections!) and turn onto the dirt road that that takes you back to the final section of the trail. The final climbs are a nice challenge before the fast downhill finish.

Part of the fun of this race was having so many friends and colleagues at the event - from the Summit Hut we had Jeremy Davis - Owner, Dave Baker - Founder, Richard Allen - Buyer, Charles Miles - Buyer, Dana Davis - Owner, Frank Camp - Marketing Director and Alison Taylor - Buyer (race results) - a great group to enjoy the fabulous breakfast with after the race.

If you missed this race this year think about signing up next year - but sign up early, this race is fantastic and will certainly sell out quickly! You can find quite a few pictures of this race on Flickr from Everyone Runs.

A few notes about gear we used on this run:

Photo Credit: Fleet Feet Tucson and Dave Barger.

Hot Peak 60, Inov-8: I like the fit on this cap and the sweat band does a good job keeping sweat out of my eyes and off my glasses - plus in the Black/Lime color it looks fast! - Charles 

Photo Credit: Fleet Feet Tucson and Dave Barger.

UV Arm Sleeves - Print, Moeben: Moeben arm sleeves were perfect for this race! The start was quite chilly so having some extra warmth was great while the last mile of the race, when I spent a great deal of energy trying to catch Frank, I got hot and was able to push the sleeves down for a cooling effect. The UPF 50 would have been great as well if it had been sunnier! -Dana

Performance Mini Crew and Ironman Thunder Pro Low-Cut, Injinji and Wigwam: By combining my original weight Injini socks with the Wigwam Thunder Pros I get maximum cushioning while keeping the toes separated so they do not rub against one another- they are the perfect match! -Dana

Photo Credit: Fleet Feet Tucson and Dave Barger.

F-Lite 230, Inov-8: I put quite a bit of thought into which shoes to wear for this run. In the end, the 230's won out - solid protection, great fit, minimal enough that I had to put some focus on good form. -Frank

Summit Hut Go Hat, Headsweats: This hat is incredibly lightweight, offered some sun protection and kept sweat out of my face! What more can you ask for? -Frank

Events | Gear

Product Review: Buff

by Jonathan Friday, February 3rd 2012

If there were a Ten Essentials list for garments, the Buff would definitely be on it. The Buff website describes it as a “multitasking bandanna”. It is its versatility that makes it a nearly indispensable item.

The versatility is a result of a combination of high tech material and design simplicity. What could be more simple than the seamless tube of fabric? The fabric itself is a lightweight stretch polyester microfiber that offers excellent moisture management and insulation against both cold and hot environments. For those who prefer natural fiber fabrics, merino wool versions are also available. A note of caution regarding the wool products, some insects find fine wool products an irresistible source of food – something to keep in mind when storing.

Like the traditional bandanna, the Buff is worn primarily in the area of the head and neck. Just a few minutes of playing around with the Buff reveals its potential. A diagram on the packaging (also on the website) shows seventeen of the more common configurations. From cap, to hair tie, to neckerchief, the Buff has you covered.

A wool base layer, and Buff neck gaiter are perfect for a cold morning hike in the desert.

Those of us who live in Tucson are used to heading out in the early morning on our hike or bike ride with temperatures in the low 40’s, then finishing our trip in the afternoon with temperatures in the upper 70’s. We like garments that can be worn over a broad spectrum of temperatures, but we really like garments that functionally adapt to wide temperature swings. It’s nice to have a jacket that can be worn across a wide temperature range, but it’s even better to have the cool-weather jacket that turns into a warm-weather shirt. The Buff will do that. Wear it as a neck gator in the morning, then as a headband in the afternoon. Wear it as a cap over the head and ears in the cool morning air, and over your nose and face as a mask against the sun in the afternoon.

On approach on a cool morning

I always wear a buff under my bicycling helmet. It not only dramatically increases the comfort of the helmet, but it keeps perspiration out of my eyes and off my sunglasses. It also keeps my head warmer in the morning and cooler in the afternoon. I find that it performs well under a climbing helmet too. For women cyclists who may want to stop for a cup of coffee or a meal, the buff can be employed in a number of stylish ways to mask the dreaded “helmet hair”. Actually, the use of any helmet can be enhanced with a Buff.

Preparing to don the helmet over the Buff

IMG_0641sm 2
Helmet hair? No problem!

During some recent experimentation and brainstorming, I thought of a new application. If you turn the Buff inside out, then slide it over your head down to your neck, then pull the top down over and carefully tuck it into your button-down collar shirt, it can double as an ascot! Now, I know that not many people are familiar with the ascot tie, and even fewer have ever worn one, but is it not nice to know that if you ever needed an ascot, and you did not have one, that, in a pinch, you could use your buff? Hey, you never know.

Buff doubling as ascot tie

Gear | Gear

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!