Newton Running is a Boulder, Colo., company known for a line of running shoes that promote midfoot or forefoot striking to dissuade runners from landing on their heels. The shoes are equipped with “actuator lugs,” stout rubber strips that sit beneath the foot’s metatarsals and prop about a quarter-inch off the sole. The goal when running is to land on the actuator lugs and not your heel. Newton pitches the whole experience as encouraging a “natural running gait.”
For the most part, I am a convert to the Newton philosophy. Three years ago, I was at a point in my running life where I needed to change my gait and embrace a midfoot stride. In a 2007 column I wrote about how the Newton tech aided in bringing me around. My running style has changed dramatically for the positive since.
Today, I run in Newton shoes a few times a month. I actually prefer shoes more minimal — and less “engineered” — than the Newtons for most of my running now. But Newtons were a great segue for me. I could not have jumped straight from the trail shoes I wore in the past to the minimalist “barefoot-style” footwear I wear today without the Newton stepping stone in between.
The initial Newton shoes were built for roads. A new product, Newton Running’s Momentum shoe, has the actuator lugs and the same low-heel design as other Newton offerings. But the Momentum is built for trails.
It has a stout, protective build. The Momentum’s uppers do not allow sand and debris to seep through. The outsole has a light tread to add some grip.
I have put a few miles on the Momentums this month. In my size 12 shoe, they weigh about 13.5 ounces per foot. This is a couple ounces heavier than other Newton models, and it’s about four ounces heavier than the trail shoes from Inov-8 Ltd. that I often wear. For me, that extra weight is noticeable on the run, and the Newtons feel heavy.
The Momentums are comfortable and supportive. Though not as armored as some trail shoes, they will protect the foot from sharp rocks and toe stubbing. They have a medium amount of flex in the sole.
The tread underfoot is minimal; the shoes are made for dry trails with few obstacles. I ran up a leafy singletrack trail to test the grip and the shoes skated slightly every few steps when the leaves got thick. My more aggressive trail shoes dug in better and slipped less.
Newton sells the Momentum as a “low profile, high-durability shoe.” It’s made to be an off-road trainer that can also run on roads.
Like most Newton shoes, the Momentums are pricey. They retail for $139. But the construction is solid. The shoes will likely last for hundreds of miles. The design is comfortable and cool. The green Momentums stand out and get comments on the trail.
If you’re curious to try the “Newton experience,” and you know that you might stray from the road and onto trails, the flashy green Momentums could be your shoe.
—Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com.