The New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5 is the perfect shoe if your jaunts consist of group runs after work, on moderate terrain, and you want a great-looking shoe. Overall, for the right application, this shoe is a solid choice.
trendy visual design
lasting Fresh Foam cushioning
hard-wearing Vibram outsole
disappointing performance on technical terrain
thicker Fresh Foam midsole does not provide a ton of ground feedback
lack of outsole and midsole support
My rating of the NB Hierro v5
Value for money: 80/100
Great color choices, unusual looks, and a design deviation from the norm. Is the Fresh Foam Hierro v5 from New Balance the one you should choose? Let’s look at what makes this shoe what it is.
Size and weight
Normally I wear a US 11, and this shoe runs pretty true to size. The overall show is fairly wide, with the toe box being generously sized. I weighed these at about 13.4 oz per shoe, for my size.
Visual appeal of the Hierro
I personally like the way it looks, especially in the “Black with Moonbeam” color scheme. There are actually four colors available: Black with Moonbeam, Lead with Tidepool, Varsity Gold with Neo Classic Blue & Phantom, and Light Aluminium with Blue Ashes & Chromatic Yellow. Try remembering all of those colors! They have fancy names, but they all look really good.
The thing that I like about the Black with Moonbeam color scheme is that it does not look dirty. I’ve taken these on long dusty runs, then sprayed them off with the garden hose, and worn them casually the next day (more about that later). The transition between the upper and midsole looks very cool how the colors “splatter” and transitions between the two.
There is an odd tail on the outsole of the shoe, which makes it look about a size larger than the shoe actually is (more on this later, too). The outsole has a couple of smartly placed forward arrows on the bottom of it. While these are not seen when running, they are a neat visual detail that adds to the overall design of this shoe. I also like how the lace colors match the color scheme of the shoe. When you look at this shoe, you get the feeling that the overall visual design got a lot of attention.
Stack and drop
The New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5 has an advertised 8mm drop. The stack is 34mm at the heel and 26mm at the toe.
The main part of the upper is constructed with a two-layer system. The portion underneath of this is a breathable woven nylon material. The top portion of this material is a durable, perforated, TPU-coated synthetic material with a “random repeating” pattern in it. TPU stands for thermoplastic polyurethane, which has elasticity and resists oils, water, and abrasion.
The perforations allow for decent ventilation, while still providing overall design aesthetics. The toe cap is integrated with the same synthetic material as the main portion of the upper.
There are some nice design details here, with the words “Toe Protect” placed over where your middle toes sit. Additionally, the texture of the transition between the Toe Protect mimics the “splash” on the upper and midsole. The New Balance “N” is big on the side of the show, and transitions all the way under the laces.
The heel cup portion is a contrasting color and is a rigid material. The heel pull loop is big but doesn’t get in the way while running. It also has the New Balance “N” and the word “Trail” on it; another nice design detail. The collar is a cushioned soft synthetic material, which transitions to the inner shoe liner.
Fresh Foam goodness
The midsole is an injected Ethylene-Vinyle Acetate (EVA) using New Balance’s proprietary Fresh Foam technology. This midsole compound is durable and reasonably long-lasting. Fresh Foam is used across a range of New Balance shoes and delivers good rebound and minimal degradation over time. The exposed portion of the Fresh Foam EVA midsole has an abrasion-resistant texture which has held up well. The color scheme on the midsole follows the rest of the shoe well.
New Balance uses a non-specific insole. Nothing fancy, but it does the trick.
The outsole of the FreshFoam Hierro v5 is a Vibram MegaGrip compound. Going back to 1937, Vibram has a long history of high-performance outsole compounds and designs. The MegaGrip compound is formulated to maintain traction and grip, even on wet surfaces. In addition to having a fairly deep design, the lugs form a pattern that maximizes grip in multiple trail conditions.
There is an unusual “tail” on the back of the shoe, which I’ll go into later. The outsole has a very large Vibram logo on the bottom and the word Vibram on the outer back portion of the outsole. Not to repeat myself, but another nice visual design element.
Tongue and lacing
The lacing system has four sets of wider nylon loops. These hold the unique tongue in place. The tongue is an unusual design. The outer portion of the upper crosses over the majority of the tongue, keeping it from shifting and provides extra protection from rocks getting in around its side.
The liner of this shoe is your basic smooth soft, semi-padded material. It works well and did not wear prematurely. I also never felt any seams or transitions from the shoe’s upper.
When I get a more premium pair of running shoes, there is a level of expectation that the materials will hold up to reasonable wear and tear. The terrain that trail runners encounter is perhaps harsher on shoes than road runners, so the durability of the materials to withstand abrasion from rocks, roots, and moisture, along with the ability to look and wear well while dirty are important.
The New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5 checks the boxes for durable construction. Starting with the upper, the TPU provides excellent abrasion resistance. After over 100 miles on them, I do not have any noticeable cuts or scars on them.
The Toe Protect area performs as advertised, as I experienced no toe pain or jambs while running in them. The midsole held up fairly well, with the EVA not breaking down, or compressing too greatly. The outer portion of the midsole held up well against abrasion, with no real gouges or tears from rocks.
The Vibram outsole held up perfectly. I am a huge Vibram fan, and the application on this Hierro v5 is no exception. It wears like iron, grips like glue, and in the case of this Hierro v5 looks awesome.
Comfort and fit of the Hierro v5
This shoe is very comfortable out of the box. The generous amount of EVA Fresh Foam is great on long miles. During long runs, I had no hot spots or excessive slippage. That being said, there isn’t a lot of adjustment with the laces.
If you have a foot that is “normally” thick, then you should be fine. If your foot is on the “thinner” side, then you may not get enough adjustment out of the laces to make these shoes tight enough. Additionally, there really are not enough eyelets on each side of the tongue, which translates onto some side to side foot slide on cambered trails.
The overall comfort of this shoe is really good, and they took no time to break in. The Fresh Foam midsole worked well in balancing the right amount of rebound with the right amount of cushion. The weight is on the heavier side, but this is not apparent when running in these shoes; they feel energetic and fast on the right type of trail.
The heel cup provides a good deal of stability, especially when contrasted with the extra squishy EVA midsole. About the “tail” on the back of the shoe. What is its purpose? I really do not know. I tried to feel it as I ran to see if it provided float on sandier conditions, but it really did not have any perceivable benefit. My concern was that it would get caught on root or rocks during descents and trip me up.
I actually had it in my mind that I would end up cutting it off. However, after a few runs on it, I didn’t find any negative or positive effects, so I just let it be.
The overall feel and performance would be really good if you run flatter-rolling terrain. You can even consider some hard surfaces mixed in. On rocky, steep, cambered, and technical singletrack trails, this shoe falls short. There is a lack of lateral support and there is front-to-back slippage when running down very steep hills.
The biggest asset of this shoe is also its achilles heel (no pun intended). The Fresh Foam that makes this comfortable on harder, less technical terrain is almost too soft for rocky and technical terrain. The foam and outsole flex with what’s underfoot and this translates into a lack of support to the ball, arch, and midfoot areas.
Jens Jakob is a fan of short distances with a 5K PR at 15:58 minutes. Based on 35 million race results, he's among the fastest 0.2% runners. Jens Jakob previously owned a running store, when he was also a competitive runner. His work is regularly featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, BBC and the likes as well as peer-reviewed journals. Finally, he has been a guest on +30 podcasts on running.