Verdict from 100+ user reviews

10 reasons to buy

  • Many wearers report that the New Balance 501 shoes run true to size.
  • Several fashion-conscious purchasers of the heritage sneaker love its silhouette.
  • Many of the purchasers take note of the lightweight feel of these retro running shoes.
  • Some love how comfortable these low-top shoes feel even after long walks.
  • Several shoe enthusiasts love the fact that there are a lot of colors to choose from the New Balance 501 collection.
  • A lot of users are happy with how much value they get even with the New Balance 501’s affordable price.
  • The suede and mesh upper of the shoe offers breathable coverage and extra ventilation for the feet, others have noted.
  • There is adequate padding in the ankle collar and tongue for a plush in-shoe feel, others say.
  • The projecting lugs on the outsole of the New Balance 501 shoes easily make it a versatile sneaker where surfaces are concerned, some have noticed.
  • Some commend the vintage running sneaker’s reliable arch support and remarkable stability for a classic sneaker.

3 reasons not to buy

  • A few disappointed purchasers notice how the padding of the New Balance 501 sneaker does not last long.
  • Quite a few people comment on how craftsmanship was not so excellent on the pair they have received.
  • There are quality inconsistencies across items, according to a few NB 501 reviews.

Bottom line

An overwhelming number of buyers are impressed with the comfortable and stylish New Balance 501. Those who move around a lot note how light the pair is, sparing their feet from the pains of too much movement.

The NB 501 does not disappoint many of its loyal followers. Given its relative affordability, it surely will not hurt to try on and buy the New Balance 501 low-top shoes.

Tip: see the best sneakers.

Good to know

The New Balance 501 sneaker comes with a traditional lacing system that allows users the freedom to adjust the fit according to their liking. Its padded collar and tongue also provides enough support and cushioning.

With its classic yet sporty silhouette, the New Balance 501 is a blessing to those who comfortably don the old-school shirt and jeans. It’s mostly monochromatic colorway, which by the way, comes in a lot of variants, also makes outfit matching such an easy task to do. If versatility is desired, then this pair is indeed one to have.

Here’s a more detailed styling suggestion of the New Balance 501 sneaker for men and women:

  • For Men: With lots of colorways to choose from, the New Balance 501 is a great everyday shoe option for men. The New Balance 501 men’s sneakers can be worn with jeans, joggers, track pants, and shorts as any street-style outfit. Wear them with casual tops like tees, hoodies, track jackets, and denim jackets for a vintage-inspired fashion. Among the favorite colorways for the men’s New Balance 501 is blue, black, and grey.
  • For Women: The New Balance 501 women’s sneakers are high for women who want to don heritage kicks to spice up their casual clothes. Favorite colorways for the female sneakerheads include New Balance 501 red, pink, and burgundy. Women may wear these heritage kicks with denim skirts, shorts or jeans and pairing them with relaxed tees, tank tops, and hoodies.

The understated approach of the 501 to honor New Balance’s heritage is the shoe’s most notable feature. Besides making it almost a look-alike of the iconic 574, it also gives the 501 a simple appeal that makes it one trendy shoe.

Another highlight of the New Balance 501 sneaker design is its use of the ENCAP technology in the midsole enhancing stability, cushioning, shock and impact absorption. The Encap midsole cushioning technology is comprised of EVA midsole with tough Polyurethane rim which gives more support and durability to the shoe.

The outsole is also quite a stand out feature in this sneaker. New Balance uses adequately-sized lugs from the heel to the forefoot to make it a suitable partner for different types of terrain. Users can be sure-footed while getting their best in lifestyle out of the New Balance 501.

New Balance since its establishment in 1906 has been known for investing huge on research, design and new technology. The latest among these technologies is the 3D printed midsoles of New Balance shoes. With the use of 3D printing, structures can be optimized to put as little material possibly where the runner uses the shoe.

The Boston-based New Balance company had long held to its “Endorsed by No One” philosophy since it was founded as the New Balance Arch Company in Massachusetts up to its breakthrough growth in the 1970s when it first came into the running consciousness of the public.

Banking on their time-tested idea that better fit and technology results to quality performance shoes, the brand has invested on research and new technology and initially released the ripple-soled running shoe, the Trackster in the 1960s up to the 1970s.

New Balance’s strength lies in the quality of their shoe, durability and comfort and their ability to respond to market needs and demands. Soon, manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts and Maine were improved introducing computer-assisted design systems that lessen product development and production times by half.  

While competitors seem to be rolling out new designs only after a year, New Balance was able to do it in just four months with their focus on improving production and upgrading their current manufacturing equipment. New Balance continued to focus on domestic production that even up to the 2000s up to the present more than 70 percent of their production remained in the United States. Their production for the European market also stayed in their manufacturing plant Flimby, England in the United Kingdom.

  Starting the “dad shoe” trend

The growth of the company started in the 1970s when Jim Davis purchased it in 1972 at the start of the growing jogging and recreational running lifestyle in the United States. Starting with this growth opportunity, New Balance churned out impressive running shoe designs beginning then with the New Balance 320 and later on numerous sneaker designs that held on to the so-called retro running silhouette and later on the “dad shoes” that have become popular today.  

Soon other running shoe designs from the New Balance were released bearing its unique numbering system and easily recognizable N logo on the side panels. With these design character, New Balance in its more than 100 years of existence, also became known for their flexibility and strength, weight and durability.

New Balance’s fame as a top-notch shoe company that provides runners and people with footwear equipped with excellent arch support and good hold has also given them an unfairly misguided reputation as a “dad’s shoe” or clunky trainers that only podiatrists or orthopedics would suggest.

People who are familiar with New Balance or sneakerheads can readily vouch for the superior style and functionality of what is known as the New Balance Classics. It is a collection of shoes that are found in the closet of thousands of New Balance fans. These shoes are in no way a stereotype of an average “dad’s shoe” or an anonymous trainer.

  New Balance 501 design, features

Part of the deep and fantastic collection of so-called dad shoes is the New Balance 501. The sneaker is a nod to New Balance’s humble beginning as typified by its retro-style and straightforward look. The vivid colors represent the company’s rich tradition of mixing style and performance. It is also a distant relative to one of the company’s most popular and sought-after models in the NB 574.

A cohort of the iconic 574, the New Balance 501, shares a lot of similarities with the ubiquitous model. It also has that streamlined classic silhouette and snug fit that allow wearers to move around in comfort, which is not that surprising since the 501 also traces its roots to running.

There are a handful of notable differences between these two favorite lines, though. A significant difference between the two would be New Balance’s use of lighter materials for the 501. Besides the lighter materials, the 501 also does not offer the same type of heel hold as its cousin. Lastly, the midfoot overlays present in the 574 are subdued in the 501.

The differences make the New Balance 501 a little more flexible and with better freedom of movement. It is an excellent choice for those who want to have a more casual approach to their usual days without sacrificing support.

The effective midsole cushioning, outsole durability, and versatile suede or textile stylishness of the New Balance 501’s breathable upper complete the positive experience the shoe provides its wearers.

  New Balance 501 collection

Since the release of the new Balance 501 silhouette, the sneaker design has had several variants to address the varying needs of sneakerheads regarding style, colorway, and materials.

One of those variants is the New Balance 501 Core. The NB 501 Core displays a style that is closely similar to the New Balance 547. It presents a stylishly old-school look with its suede upper and meshes underlay with the presence of a two-toned EVA midsole that enhances the overall look.

Another version of this retro runner is the New Balance 501 Ballistic. The sleek design and use of Ballistic Nylon material in the upper assures of an extra layer of protection and security. The Ballistic Nylon material has been used over the years to make shoes, bags and protective clothing extra durable and abrasion-resistant.

The New Balance 501 Rugby shoe is one variation of the 501 line that has been dressed with a textile upper for an updated look. Its most notable feature is the presence of the dual-toned wedge midsole with tones in striking colors that breathes new life to the vintage running shoe.

The New Balance 501 Heritage, meanwhile, defines the cool throwback style without sacrificing comfort and durability. The wedge EVA midsole is responsible for cushioning while the signature ENCAP cushioning found within the midsole delivers enhanced support. Another striking feature of this sneaker is the '501' imprint on the suede heel quarter.

Avid followers of the New Balance brand will also recognize the New Balance 501 Ripple shoe for its ripple outsole and its attractive upper, which can be made of various materials from mesh, leather, and suede to all textile.

An alternative design for the silhouette is offered by the New Balance 501 Leather which comes in a full leather upper with perforation marks. The ripple-soled sneaker also has a comfy foam midsole and solid rubber outsole for a classic treatment.

Lastly, the other colorway variant is the New Balance 501 Digi Camo which is part of the New Balance Camo Pack featuring a unique camo textile material in the upper for a more unusual look and striking appearance.

  • The New Balance 501 shoe uses the proprietary ENCAP technology to ensure stability and proper shock dispersion.
  • New Balance and Rick Williams’s Distinct Life once collaborated to promote the New Balance 501. It was part of their 30 for 30 series where Williams wore 30 different pairs of New Balance kicks, one for each day of June 2011.


How New Balance 501 ranks compared to all other shoes
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Top 7% New Balance sneakers
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The current trend of New Balance 501.
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Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin

Danny is a sports nut with a particular interest in football and running. He loves to watch sports as much as he loves to play. Danny was lead researcher on RunRepeat and The PFA’s report into Racial Bias in Football Commentary. His football and running research has been featured in The Guardian, BBC, New York Times and Washington Post.