Gear Shakedown: New Balance ‘Leadville’ 1210

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New Balance Leadville 1210 with custom Daiso laces

There’s a lot of strong words in the debate between hiking in boots, light hiking shoes and trail runners. There’s no real debate for me – running shoes are lighter, and dry more quickly than traditional hiking boots. And, having shattered my calcaneous in 2007, and ending up with 27 pins and 2 titanium plates permanently anchored in my heel, I’m interested in a shoe that is lightweight yet offers substantial support. The New Balance ‘Leadville’ 1210 hasn’t let me down yet…

New Balance makes shoes in America (and in the UK for the European market) – an anathema considering most shoe makers manufacture anywhere overseas everywhere form China, Israel, Jordan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, to Turkey and Vietnam. NB’s are as also as close to vegan as I can find  (through a series of emails, they will not fully divulge the glues used in specific show models, while admitting that specific factories use plant based glue, while others use animal glue).

Named after the famed Colorado ultra-marathon the Leadville 100 (which, coincidentally, NB has hosted since 2008), the NB shoe is designed with ultra-runners in mind featuring N2 cushioning, REVlite midsole, Vibram® outsole and an effective debris-free construction. The Leadville weighs in a 10.3 oz per pair, making them light AND structured.

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The Minimus 10v2 before their swift disintegration on the rocks of Maine

I starting the hike with a pair of NB Minimus 10v2 shoes – I liked the mesh construction and the feel on trail was great – but after about 100 miles in Washington and only 280 miles in Maine they were done, with the mesh completely destroyed, and the soles separating from the shoes. I re-upped with the 1210s in New Hampshire and  haven’t looked back. I ended up wearing out 2 pairs of these on my AT – I wore my first pair for 800 miles and the second pair for almost 1000 miles. Admittedly, I now replace shoes after 600-700 miles or when the foam becomes visibly compressed – but the point being the shoes will wear you out, not the other way around. I’m now happily on my fourth pair…

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