The Outside Blog

Politics : Jun 2011

The Gear Junkie Scoop: New Balance Minimus Trail

By Stephen Regenold

Take some fashion cues from a sticky-sole river shoe, sprinkle a dose of design direction as per the current barefoot/minimalist footwear zeitgeist, and add heavy some field-test feedback from a Jesus Christ lookalike and ultra-runner wonder named Anton Krupicka, and you will have a shoe called the MT10 Minimus Trail. That's the gist of New Balance's light and flexible new trail runner, a $100 shoe so different from most of the market that it regularly gets mistaken as an aqua sock.

It is made of rubber and mesh. Twist the shoe and it wrings hard like an old, thick rag. You can wear it sockless. There is no insole and scant midsole padding -- leap on a stone wrong and you'll get a bruise above a foot bone. Further distinguishers: The Minimus' toes are not articulated like a Vibram FiveFingers shoe, though the New Balance sole hales from the same Italian sole-maker (Vibram), and in spite of no "toes" it is almost as strange: A grid of textured dots web a rubber sole that I found somewhat wondrous for running on pavement as well as dirt trails.

New balance - minimus trail copy

Despite its oddities, the Minimus Trail runs like a dream. Few shoes I have tested this year scored so high. New Balance, a company that in 2009 reported worldwide sales of $1.65 billion, is a big boy jumping a bit later than some into the aforementioned barefoot/minimalist game. (An aside: Sure, the company has built minimalist shoes before, including the MT100, which I review here, and which I did not particularly like, but the Minimus line is NB's first go at the true "barefoot/minimalist" combo design, as far as I have seen.)

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Secret Recipe: Pearce Family Pesto

Pesto Courtesy of Flickr

Five days before the 2010 Olympic snowboard trials, 23-year-old Kevin Pearce cracked his head on a halfpipe and sunk into a coma. He woke up six days later with memory loss, occasional seizures, and a newfound love for his mother's basil pesto. "It's really weird how hitting your head really hard can do something like this to you -- I never would have thought it," Pearce says. "I guess there are worse things to be obsessed with."

Pearce puts pesto on everything, but he says it's especially tasty on sandwiches and ravioli. "Yesterday I went to the store -- on joke -- just for pesto," he says. Usually, though, Pearce makes the pesto himself. His mom taught him the recipe while he was recuperating from his accident at his family's home in Hartland, Vermont. Pearce now lives in Carlsbad, California. "Now that I'm out here on my own, it's awesome to know how to make it," he says. "We have the best recipe ever."

And, here it is:

-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (Parmesana-Reggiano)
-2 cups loosely packed fresh basil (basil needs to be dry and clean and picked off stem just before use)
-1/4 cup rounded pine nuts
-1/2 tsp. salt (preferably kosher)
-1 clove garlic (through garlic press)
-1/2 cup olive oil

-Place cheese in food processor and process until finely shredded. Set aside in a bowl.
-Combine basil, pressed garlic, cheese, pine nuts, and salt in food processor. Process until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed together.
-Add olive oil slowly while continuing to process.
-Turn processor off and scrape the sides of the processor with a spatula. If you'd like thinner pesto, add more olive oil and process again.
-Pulse to bring salt up from the bottom, being careful not to over-process.
-Place pesto in small jar and add a very thin layer of olive oil on the top.
-Cover with lid and store in refrigerator or freeze immediately for later use.

For more on Kevin Pearce, read Jonah Lehrer's "Some Assembly Required."

--Whitney Dreier

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Teva Mountain Games

For the past ten years, in early June 40,000 people from roughly 30 different countries come to Vail, Colorado's Teva Mountain Games to compete in 23 different events. Yesterday was whitewater kayaking, today was mountain biking and bouldering, and tomorrow is road biking and the dog run, where owners and their dogs trot for a mile through the central Rockies. Outside sent seven staffers to event. We'll be posting updates over the next few days. In the meantime, here's the first, a video update from Michael Brown's Outside Adventure School 

--Kyle Dickman

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Smart Phone: Survival Tool

Last month, our SAR team responded to lost hikers in Warren Creek, a steep, thickly-wooded, snow-covered canyon that terminates in a cliff. In the past, Warren Creek rescues were all-nighters, sometimes spilling into the next day. But for this mission, smart phones helped us rapidly find the lost. We made phone contact, had the hikers read us their altitude and GPS coordinates, and directed them to follow the compass on their phone. We had the cell phone company ping their phone a few times, to get accurate coordinates within a few hundred feet. Now, crisis mapping is the new buzzword in using telecom tech to respond to disasters like the Haiti earthquake. We all know smart phones have limitations: dead battery, deep canyons, and lack of instruction can render a smart phone useless. Nonetheless: should a smart phone now be a permanent part of modern-day "ten essentials?"


Cell and GPS reception worldwild, even on our trek to a remote hill top clinic outside Verrettes, Haiti.

--Christopher Van Tilburg, MD

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Dhani Tackles A Book

Dhani cover Courtesy of Rodale

His middle name, Makalani, is Hawaiian for "skilled at writing," so it's no surprise that Cincinnati Bengals' defensive captain Dhani Jones has a book out this month. In The Sportsman, he chronicles the 2008 off season, during which he traveled around the world for the Travel Channel television show, Dhani Tackles the Globe. For each episode, he spent a week in a foreign country learning an indigenous sport—from tossing the caber at the Scottish Highland Games to running the sand and surf gamut at an Australian lifesaving competition—before getting thrashed by the locals. "I came in last place in the 100-yard sand dash, barely completed the 600-meter swim, and literally fell off the men's double-ski," Jones writes of the Austrailian comp. In the book, each adventure comes packed with fitness advice, travel recommendations, and anecdotes from more than ten years in the NFL. Outside caught up with Jones to talk about his latest endeavor.
--Whitney Dreier

Describe the book-writing experience.
I've always been a writer. I've always been passionate about words and thoughts and how you assemble them together to make something substantial. The hardest part of writing a book is focusing on one theme and getting everything else through that vein. [Co-author] Jonathan Grotenstein and I just hit it off. He got me, he got my voice, he got my vision. He got the whole -- not to be cliche -- he got the whole enchilada. We vibed.

The book describes your sporting adventures, from Muay Thai boxing in Thailand to Schwingen in Switzerland. You must enjoy seeing new places.
Traveling has always been a part of my lifestyle. I want people to know that in the book. I want people to realize that we live in a great country -- the best  country -- however, there is a whole 'nother world out there, and there's nothing wrong with going to check out the rest of the world. Experience it.

Were local people responsive to your show and your attempts to learn their sports?
Most of the time people were accepting, but there were definitely uncomfortable situations at times. I had to understand that different countries have different cultures and different customs. I tried to go into it with a clean head and say look, this is what life is: Life is being a blank canvas and allowing the people around you to add color to it. You can go into a country with a colorful canvas, but don't let the colors on your canvas pollute the ones already there.

Dhani bike "I had never been in a bike race," says Jones, in Italy. "And I knew I wasn't going to win the Gran Fondo del Monte Grappa."

What sport did you find most difficult?
Going to Nepal was one of the hardest trips. All it was was hiking, but it was hiking at 19,000 feet. You don't realize how difficult that is and how challenging, how trying, how unbelievably tired you become.

Can you share some tips from the road?
1. Only pack what you need. And if you run out, wash it in the sink.

2. Always bring something to record your trip, whether that be a camera, a pen and pad, or some type of video recorder.

3. Follow the locals. You know what they look like. They know what you look like. If they don't look like you, follow them! Don't follow the people who look like you, you might as well stay at home.

On travel fitness?
1. There's no good fitness without good nutrition. You're not going to function if you don't eat well. If you eat bad, what's the point of working out? The eating's going to catch up to you. It's not difficult to have good food -- even the restaurants are taking care of you: you can't go to a sushi restaurant and get regular soy sauce, you gotta get low sodium.

2. There's no good fitness without good sleep. If you don't have a good sleep cycle, you're not going to have a sustainable workout; you're going to fight against your body trying to become better. There's so many great jobs and businesses out there that allow for meditation and outdoor activities during the day. There's always an option, it's all about how you divide your time.

3. There's no good fitness without good thoughts. You have to have a positive mindset to create positive energy. If your mind's not in the right place, you're not going to accomplish anything. If you walk into the gym and you're like I hate this place, then leave. Being mentally clear, that's on you. You gotta take a little onus for yourself.

What do you hope readers take away from The Sportsman?
The book is about finding your passion and staying true to that. A lot of times we get distracted and feel compelled to live by another person's standard. It's important that you evaluate what you really believe is important to you -- and live it. Just do it, cause it's your life, right? Fuck it, just do it. [Pause] I wish you could change that somehow -- my mom's trying to get me away from the expletives.

    Dhani wp
Jones attempts water polo in Croatia. "It takes a lot of damn work to beat my legs hard enough to keep my head above water," he wrote.

The Sportsman ($26) is due out June 7, wherever books are sold and at


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