Our verdict

The New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 delivers budget-friendly versatility for both roads and easy trails. While its upper durability leaves something to be desired, we think it's a surprisingly strong pick for runners seeking maximum value and a hybrid, do-it-all shoe. And if you often travel and space is limited, the Nitrel v5 is a fantastic option that won't let you down!

Pros

  • Unbeatable price
  • Handles roads and light trails
  • Comfortable for daily runs
  • Suitable for various distances
  • Surprisingly lightweight
  • Offers good stability
  • Breathable upper

Cons

  • Poor upper durability
  • Limited energy return
  • Weak traction on wet surfaces

Audience verdict

78
Decent!

Who should buy

We believe the budget-minded Dynasoft Nitrel v5 from New Balance is an excellent choice for:

  • Adventurers who enjoy both roads and trails will appreciate this wallet-friendly pick.
  • Runners who you seek an easy-trail shoe that won't break the bank.
  • Those seeking a do-it-all trail shoe for walking, hiking, travelling and running.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5

Who should NOT buy

The DynaSoft Nitrel v5 offers some pleasant surprises, but it does have limitations that warrant careful consideration. For instance, we don't recommend it for longer runs due to its modest cushioning and energy return. If you can stretch your budget just a bit, the Hoka Challenger 7 offers far superior cushioning as a hybrid shoe.

Our lab tests also revealed that the DynaSoft Nitrel v5's upper seriously lacks durability. If this is a major concern for you, we believe a sturdier, still-budget-friendly shoe like the Nike Juniper Trail 2 would be a wiser choice.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5

Breathability

One big perk of road-to-trail hybrids compared to pure trail runners is superior breathability. These versatile shoes typically combine airy road running uppers with extra protective layers. Does the budget-friendly Nitrel v5 fit the bill here?

Happily, we found the airflow great—earning a 4/5 in our smoke test thanks to the generous ventilation holes.

Our light test pinpointed the main source of airflow, starting in the toebox. However, airflow halts in the midfoot as additional structure kicks in for stability. Just the way it should be.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 microscope

A closer look under the microscope revealed a surprisingly thick engineered mesh peppered with ventilation holes. This underscores the value of doing multiple tests in the lab.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 microscope

Finally, a hands-on inspection revealed a incredibly plush interior padding for being a $75 shoe.

We also noted plenty of overlays, including New Balance's Toe Protect, for a welcome touch of added durability in the toe cap.

Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 4
Average 3.3
Compared to 83 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

New Balance's Toe Protect feature makes an appearance on the Nitrel v5 as we said just before, though it doesn't extend far enough into the toebox. For this reason, the upper was no match for our Dremel test—it practically tore through the upper.

While the mesh feels cozy enough, it falls short on durability. Our Dremel test confirmed this, giving the Nitrel v5 the worst possible score, a dismal 1/5.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Toebox durability
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 1
Average 3.1
Compared to 63 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

While low toebox durability scores are somewhat expected from a door-to-trail shoe, heel padding durability should be better.

Sadly, our Dremel test on the Achilles area was another brutal disappointment—the tool destroyed this part of the shoe, earning the Nitrel v5 another dismal 1/5 score.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Heel padding durability
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 1
Average 2.9
Compared to 61 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

Two brutal durability tests down, we were hoping for better luck with the AT Tread outsole.

Before hitting it with the Dremel, we assessed the hardness using our durometer—it landed at a fairly standard 86.8 HC for trail shoes. Now for the moment of truth…

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Outsole hardness
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 86.8 HC
Average 85.4 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
72.5 HC
Outsole hardness
95.0 HC

Outsole durability

We were happy with the performance the AT Tread outsole! NB promise this versatile outsole can handle a variety of terrains, and our lab and real-world tests confirm that—although it may not be the top performer in any single scenario, it holds its own across the board.

Our Dremel test delivered a nice surprise, a modest 0.9-mm indentation. While not the absolute best result, it's still solid performance for a budget-friendly trail shoe like this!

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Outsole durability
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 0.9 mm
Average 0.9 mm
Compared to 56 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

The solid durability results likely influenced New Balance's decision to use a thinner-than-usual outsole here.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 AT Tread

Measuring in at just 1.8 mm, this design makes perfect sense for a shoe destined for occasional road use. After all, thick outsoles can feel awkward and clunky on smooth pavement.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Outsole thickness
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 1.8 mm
Average 2.4 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0.9 mm
Outsole thickness
6.5 mm

Weight

When we first handled the Nitrel v5 in the lab, it had a nicely lightweight feel—and our scale confirmed this impression!

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5

At 9.8 oz (279g), this shoe boasts balanced lightness, even compared to strictly road-focused models. In fact, it's rare to find a cheap trail shoe like this cracking the 10-oz barrier.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Weight
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 9.84 oz (279g)
Average 10.30 oz (292g)
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
7.51 oz (213g)
Weight
13.37 oz (379g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

New Balance hit the sub-10-oz sweet spot by skipping the maximalist trend that's taken over the running shoe world. Just a few years ago, a 29.8 mm stack height might have qualified as tall, but today, it's noticeably leaner than the average shoe on the market.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Heel stack
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 29.8 mm
Average 32.2 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
16.1 mm
Heel stack
42.4 mm

Forefoot stack

While lean overall, the Nitrel v5 does feature slightly more cushion in the forefoot, measuring a respectable 23.1 mm with our digital calipers.

This balanced stack height makes the shoe suitable for a variety of runs, but might feel a bit thin for ultra-distance efforts.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Forefoot stack
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 23.1 mm
Average 24.5 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
15.2 mm
Forefoot stack
33.9 mm

Drop

The "drop" of a shoe refers to the height difference between heel and forefoot, and in this case, it's a comfortable 6.7 mm. While adaptable to most running styles, we think this moderate drop makes the shoe an especially good fit for midfoot strikers.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Drop
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 6.7 mm
Average 7.8 mm
Compared to 105 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
-0.1 mm
Drop
17.3 mm

Insole thickness

The insole has a standard thickness of 4.1 mm, so we think it should feel familiar to you. Additionally, we found it's made from comfortable EVA foam.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Insole thickness
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 4.1 mm
Average 4.7 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
2.7 mm
Insole thickness
9.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The shoe sits on a midsole crafted from New Balance's EVA-based DynaSoft foam.

We measured it at a moderately soft 20.5 HA on our durometer, a versatile sweet spot that tackles a variety of surfaces like asphalt, gravel roads or easy trails with ease. In our view, a significantly softer feel in this shoe would likely introduce too much instability for uneven terrain.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Midsole softness
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 20.5 HA
Average 22.7 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
9.1 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
39.0 HA

Difference in midsole softness in cold

We wanted to see how the Nitrel v5 fared in true winter temps, so we tucked it into our freezer for a 20-minute chill alongside our ice creams. Our subsequent durometer test revealed a 26.8% increase in firmness—pretty respectable for an affordable running shoe.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Difference in midsole softness in cold
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 26.8%
Average 26.4%
Compared to 82 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in midsole softness in cold
100%

Stability

Lateral stability test

New Balance integrated midsole sidewalls at the heel and midfoot to enhance stability—making this a great pick for neutral runners seeking a steady, sure-footed ride even on trails.

Torsional rigidity

Remember, this shoe targets versatility, so it needs to be comfy enough for everything from leisurely park walks to trail hikes.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5

Overly stiff shoes make for miserable non-running activities. With that in mind, the Nitrel v5 strikes a great balance between responsiveness and flexibility, earning it a solid 3/5 on our torsional rigidity test.

Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 3
Average 3.5
Compared to 100 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The heel counter mirrors the overall design priority of comfort over rock-solid stability, which we believe it's an entirely appropriate choice for this shoe.

This translates to a comfortable fit with just enough structure to keep your heel in place, earning it a 2/5 on our scale.

Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 2
Average 3.2
Compared to 98 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Turning our attention to the midsole, we measured a fairly average 109.9 mm at the widest part of the forefoot. This neutral design further underscores the shoe's ideal fit for runners without major stability needs.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Midsole width in the forefoot
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 109.9 mm
Average 112.1 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
102.1 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
126.0 mm

Midsole width in the heel

Our heel measurement revealed a generously wide 95.6 mm, fantastic news for heel strikers!

This design, along with the Nitrel v5's beginner-friendly price tag, clearly signals New Balance's intention to make this shoe incredibly welcoming for novice runners in search of a do-it-all shoe.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Midsole width in the heel
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 95.6 mm
Average 89.7 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
77.2 mm
Midsole width in the heel
109.3 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

Flexibility is key for versatile, jack-of-all-trades shoes, and the Nitrel v5 delivers well! We were happy with its performance in our torsional rigidity test, but we wanted to go further.

It only took 23.0 N of force to bend the shoe to our desired 90-degree angle. While not super-flexible, the Nitrel v5 achieves a fantastic balance of support and comfort for this type of shoe.

Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 23.0N
Average 28.1N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
10.5N
Stiffness
54.5N

Difference in stiffness in cold

The DynaSoft EVA foam holds its own under chilly conditions—just like our re-measurement of midsole softness—we only detected a 21.3% increase in stiffness after our standard 20-minute freezer test.

This respectable performance further solidifies the shoe's suitability for multiple climates.

Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 21.3%
Average 35.1%
Compared to 103 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
0%
Difference in stiffness in cold
102%

Grip / Traction

Lug depth

Now, circling back to the outsole—those lugs sure look shallow! With our vernier caliper, we confirmed this impression at just 2.9 mm, the perfect height for a versatile shoe that balances trail grip and on-road comfort. More aggressive lugs would create an unpleasant, clunky feel on pavement.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5

However, it's crucial to know the Nitrel v5 has its limits. The simple rectangular lugs, while sporting some subtle grooves for added bite on softer surfaces, won't cut it in truly challenging, muddy conditions. That said, these smaller lugs still deliver an impressively solid performance on well-maintained trails!

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Lug depth
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 2.9 mm
Average 3.6 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.7 mm
Lug depth
5.8 mm

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

Now, back to the fit! In an effort to be unbiased, we always try shoes on before measuring the upper.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 upper

The Nitrel v5 offered a classic, average fit. To back up this first impression, we measured the widest part of the upper—and our caliper validated our initial feeling with a reading of 98.3 mm.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Toebox width at the widest part
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 98.3 mm
Average 98.8 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
92.0 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
104.9 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

There's ample room for toes to splay without feeling cramped, as the lack of aggressive tapering offers generous space. Our measurement confirmed this spacious feel with a reading of 80.7 mm.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Toebox width at the big toe
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 80.7 mm
Average 79.0 mm
Compared to 68 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
70.5 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
92.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

Sadly, this shoe doesn't feature a gusseted tongue—a bummer for any true trail shoe, as it can let debris slip inside.

Yet, with a budget-friendly MSRP of just $75, we know there's a limit to the bells and whistles we can realistically expect.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Tongue: gusset type
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 None

Comfort

Tongue padding

The tongue boasts an impressive 8.0 mm of thick padding, offering incredible comfort across the top of your foot with its two generous layers of foam.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 tongue

While the laces are decent quality, we did notice that the top eyelet sits a bit away. This could potentially be an issue for runners who prefer using a heel-lock lacing technique for that extra bit of support.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Tongue padding
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 8.0 mm
Average 6.4 mm
Compared to 106 trail running shoes
Number of shoes
1.5 mm
Tongue padding
12.2 mm

Heel tab

There's no pull tab on the heel of this one, but honestly, we weren't surprised, at a price point of $75, all brands need to cut costs somewhere!

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Heel tab
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 None

Removable insole

The insole is removable, but we don't recommend swapping it out for an aftermarket option.

Why? Well, the insole's design is quite unique, very different from what you typically find in other insoles in the midfoot area, as you can see in the picture below.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Removable insole
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Yes

Misc

Reflective elements

Sadly, the Nitrel v5 doesn't come with any reflective elements. On the other hand, with its super-low price point, it's unrealistic to expect fancy features like that, even for a trail shoe.

New Balance DynaSoft Nitrel v5 Reflective elements
Test results
DynaSoft Nitrel v5 No