New Balance MR740TR
These come after the MT876OR shoes we reviewed recently, but they have several differences, apart from the normal cosmetic changes. We received two pairs, both size 10 4E, so my wife and I could both try them out.
New Balance says of them "Especially well-suited for distance runners in search of mild stability, the 740 trail runner features a medial post for pronation control and ABZORB cushioning in both the heel and forefoot." I am not sure what that really means, but the ‘mild stability’ bit suggests that the shoes are not designed to take control of your foot and distort it into a shape or motion some ‘expert’ thinks you should have. Needless to say, I approve of the reluctance to interfere with your natural foot mechanics.
|Manufacturer||New Balance Inc (www.newbalance.com)|
|Sizes available||US 7 – 13 in half sizes, 14, in D, 2E, 4E widths|
|Size supplied||US 10 4E (‘extra wide’)|
|Weight (quoted)||317 g (11.2 oz) for unspecified size and width|
|Weight (measured)||339 g (12.8 oz) for US10 4E|
|MSRP||US$90 (but now mainly from distributors)|
Starting from the bottom, there is a small change to the lug pattern. I am not sure whether the pattern is better or worse: it certainly grips well and has given good traction to both of us. The photo here shows us at the top of a steep gully on a very wet day – the river went up by 10 metres. I had no problems.
Gripping in the rain.
There has been a trend in recent years towards a heel with air space inside it. You can just see this in the first photo as hollows going in from the side. The hollows are meant to provide more spring or cushioning. You can go to extremes with this in the form of gel inserts, but they destroy the ‘feel’ your heel has for the ground, and as a result can lead to ankle injuries. Fortunately the heels on the MT740TR strike a nice balance and do not interfere with feeling the ground.
The internal sole is definitely different from some of the recent joggers reviewed. It feels much firmer. This gives much better traction on loose and muddy surfaces, although it probably ‘smears’ (rock climbing term) less well on extreme rock. It also blocks sharp rocks from poking your sole around. As I am more concerned about wet and mud than rock climbing, this is a plus for me.
Then we come to the external trim. I was critical of some previous models as they had a bit of the trim pointed forwards, so it could catch on stuff and get pulled off. The rand and trim on these MT740TR shoes avoids all those problems, and is very well designed. Has New Balance taken heed of our comments? Who knows?
Some previous versions have had a hard PU bumper at the front, which is fine except that it makes the front of the shoe just a bit heavy. That can make for a bit of toe dragging when you are tired or running. These shoes do not have that problem: the toe is light.
The lacing is designed with two sets of holes at the ankle region: you can see the holes in the first photo. With our high arches, the highest hole – the one nearest the back of the shoe, is completely superfluous! I tried using that hole for a couple of minutes, but the pressure on my arch created pain in that short time. Only using one hole and having the laces fairly loose gave me good retention and no discomfort.
The tongue is fairly conventional in shape, but not quite minimal in size. In practice, it is fine: I just worry about it slewing sideways after a few hours. Some tongues do that, however, this tongue seems to stay in place.
Some shoes give a bit of a problem at the top of the rim at the back. This happens when the top cuts in too much at the back. The idea seems to be that if the back curves in lots it will grip your heel well, but that assumes you have a really pointy heel. We don’t: we have fairly straight Achilles tendons there. However, these shoes were not loose at the heel and did not give us any rubbing at the top either.
There is the usual moulded footbed inside the shoe. It is fairly basic with a not very prominent curl up at the arch. That is not enough to create any problem for those who abhor arch supports. It is thin: perhaps a little more thickness and quality would be good?
The interior of the MT876 shoes had a problem with the lining being not fully attached. These MR740TR shoes have a different interior that has none of those problems: it is smooth and comfortable. Both the lining and the removable footbed are quite comfortable.
Lunch time, mid summer.
We have worn these in the wet and in the dry. In the very wet in fact, as you can see in the second photo! Yes, of course our feet got wet, but it really didn’t seem to matter, and the mesh body allowed the water to drain out easily.
We have also worn them in the dry. The photo above shows a late lunch after a long morning spent bashing down a small valley to the ocean. You wouldn’t think such an inconspicuous valley could present such rough country, but it sure did! I have to say that at no stage were we really conscious of our shoes: they were light, gripped well, and were comfortable. The scrub and the cliffs were another matter…
Will Rietveld also had a pair of these to test in size 12 4E. Unfortunately size 12 was a shade large for Will, but that’s better than a size too small! Will’s notes include the following:
“I normally request a size 12 in most shoes to get the extra width, but I find with wide NB shoes I am better off to request the exact size I need, which is 11.5. The size 12 has too much volume for my feet, so I have to wear two pairs of socks in them, or real heavy ones plus a liner, to fill them up. Then they fit snugly and do very well on the trail.
I wore them on two day hikes and one six-day backpacking trip. They are more flexible than the 814 [which will appear in a later Spotlite] and have the same aggressive tread. I wear them with thick cushy socks for a dialed-in fit. I like them better than the 814 because they don’t have as much heel lift. The heel cup is a bit loose for me. Trail dust does go through the mesh outer, so my feet get dirty. I wore them a lot while hiking off-trail and they did as well as any of the mid-height boots [we were field testing at the time, except for the Salomon Fastpacker].
Overall, it is refreshing to wear shoes that really are wide, rather than pseudo-wide, and also very light. They have good cushioning, good support, good motion control, and great traction.”
- Excellent sole
- Soft fabric sides
- Not too much dust or debris penetration
- Comfortable with loose laces
What’s Not So Good
- Thin footbed
Disclosure: The manufacturer provided this product to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and it is owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review this product to the manufacturer under the terms of this agreement.