1.028 users: 4.2 / 5
Weight: Men 17.8oz
Use: Day Hiking
Cut: Low cut
Features: Orthotic friendly

Verdict from 9.7 hours of research from the internet

7 reasons to buy

  • Numerous reviewers have praised the New Balance 978 for its unmatched comfort.
  • Most buyers admire this trail shoe for being superbly light.
  • It goes well with casual clothes, a lot of people say.
  • Many hikers admire this footwear for being firm but with some flex.
  • Nearly everyone agrees that it’s a solid shoe for hiking and everyday use.
  • Some users who suffer from foot pain admire these shoes for being incredibly supportive.
  • A significant number of verified buyers say that this footwear is worth the premium price.

1 reasons not to buy

  • A lot of reviewers note that the shoe runs narrow.

Bottom line

Great for trail walking as well as casual activities around the town, the New Balance 978 has impressed hundreds of people for its lightness and unmatched comfort. It’s also touted for having the right mix of firmness and flexibility, which is important to avoid injuries and feet trauma on the trail.

Unfortunately, this trail walker is criticized for being too tight in the toe box. Thus, if you have wide feet, you’re better off with a wide hiking shoe.


Tip: see the best hiking shoes.

User reviews:

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-Built for quick excursions to the trail, the New Balance 978 features a durable nubuck leather upper that provides reliable protection against the elements.

-Several footwear technologies are behind these shoes, such as the ABZORB responsive midsole for support and comfort and Gore-Tex membrane for waterproofing. They also feature a Rollbar posting system that addresses severe pronation and supination.

-The 978 trail walker comes with a dual-density collar that provides the right mix of cushioning and firmness.

The New Balance 978 is a low-cut shoe available for men and women. It has quite a narrow toe box compared to other models. Since the upper is made entirely of leather, it takes on the shape of the foot after some breaking in. Furthermore, the traditional lacing system helps facilitate an effective and easy adjustment of the fit.

The New Balance 978 has a solid rubber outsole called Ndurance. It’s made with a rubber compound that has maximum durability in high-wear areas. The lugs are widely spaced, so no debris or mud gets stuck in between. They are also deep enough to create grip and traction on varying terrain.

Another interesting feature of this shoe is the Rollbar. It’s a posting system designed to prevent the foot from rolling inward. It consists of a molded plate under the heel connected to the inner and outer edges of the shoe. The Rollbar technology makes the New Balance 978 suitable for people with severe pronation as well as those with severe supination. It also provides protection against sharp objects, such as rocks and sticks.

This popular footwear from New Balance incorporates the ABZORB midsole made from Dupont Engage Isoprene rubber and proprietary foam materials. It works by absorbing shock and displacing energy, thereby protecting the wearer from accidental impact.

Just like EVA foam, ABZORB also offers lightweight comfort. But the company claims that it’s able to withstand its cushioning properties longer than EVA. Included in the mix is the New Balance Rock Stop system - a flexible layer of EVA foam placed in between the midsole and outsole. Lastly, the shoe incorporates a polyurethane insert for added cushion and comfort.

The shoe upper is made entirely of Nubuck leather, including the stabilizing straps. It’s a high-quality material that offers protection against the elements while helping the feet stay warm in colder days. All the parts of the upper are sewn together using double-stitching.

Another important feature of this shoe is the Gore-Tex lining that protects against water intrusion. The New Balance 978 also features a dual-density collar that offers supportive padding. The gusseted tongue is sewn in place to prevent debris from entering the shoe. 

Completing the upper is a lace-up closure with metal hooks and eyelets.

The New Balance 978 is among the latest hiking shoes offered by the brand. But what makes it different from earlier models, particularly the New Balance 1400?

Shaft. The New Balance 1400 is a high-cut boot which means it offers more ankle support. High-cut boots also give additional protection from cuts, bruises, bites, and grazes which are all too common when venturing off well-maintained trails. 

The New Balance 978 is a low-cut model and is often preferred by hikers who have gained considerable experience and are less likely to twist their ankles. Low-cut shoes also offer more ankle flexibility which is helpful when climbing up or down steep slopes or when hopping through rocks in lakes and streams.

Insulation. Both the NB 1400 and NB 978 are made from high-quality materials. They also feature the Rollbar technology, a lace-up closure, and a gusseted tongue. However, there are a few notable features that distinguish one from the other. First off - the NB 1400 comes with thermal insulation, called  Thinsulate® Quilted B200. It’s made from synthetic fibers that, although lightweight, are twice as warm as any natural material. The men’s 978 trail walker lacks special insulation although the leather upper can be warm enough in cooler days.

Weight. The1400 hiking boots are surprisingly lighter than the NB 978. The latter weighs 505 grams per shoe while the former weighs 431 grams. Nevertheless, both these models belong to the lightweight class which is ideal for day hiking with less load.

Size and fit

Too small based on 1026 user votes
Small (37%)
True to size (61%)
Large (2%)
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How 978 compares

This shoe: 83
All shoes average: 85
58 99
This shoe: $155
All shoes average: $130
$45 $240
This shoe: 17.8oz
All shoes average: 13.9oz
6.5oz 23.3oz
Paul Ronto
Paul Ronto

Paul loves adventure. Over the past 20 years, he has climbed, hiked, and ran all over the world. He’s summited peaks throughout the Americas, trekked through Africa, and tested his endurance in 24-hour trail races. He has worked in the outdoor industry as a whitewater and hunting guide, gear tester, copywriter, and outfitting specialist at places like The National Outdoor Leadership School, No Barriers USA, and Sierra Trading Post. He has been quoted in NYMag, NBCNews, and Business Insider to name a few.