New Balance Minimus Hi-Rez

New Balance Minimus Hi-Rez

Shoe companies are picking up the pace in pursuit of a running shoe that allows the foot to move more naturally, yet still provides protection and ample cushioning. Witness the funky new form of the New Balance Minimus Hi-Rez: In place of a traditional sole, 42 independent EVA "pods" are fused with a piece of fabric that serves as a midsole, allowing a more barefoot-like motion, while 12 harder-wearing pods are mapped to where contact occurs most. Though not intended for heavy usage (it's a low-mileage trainer meant for runners who are focusing on strength and form), the 4.3-ounce Minimus Hi-Rez sure points the way forward for future models. "This was the original concept for our Minimus line four years ago, except the materials weren't there yet," says Katherine Petrecca, manager of New Balance's Innovation Studio. Science has now caught up and allowed them to create that long-sought-after, forward-thinking design. And the proof is in the pavement pounding. [$120; newbalance.com]