Facts

  • Terrain

    Road

    Shoes best for road, track and light gravel. See the best road shoes.

    Trail

    Shoes best for trail, off road, mountains and other unstable surfaces. See the best trail shoes.

    Good to know

    As long as you stick to the road or path, and if you want just one running shoe, buy a road running shoe.

  • Arch support

    Neutral / cushion / high arch

    Shoes for runners who do not need any additional arch support (Around 50% of runners). Best for people with normal, high or medium high arches. See the best neutral shoes.

    Stability / overpronation / normal arch

    Shoes for runners who need mild to moderate arch support (Around 45% of runners). Best for runners with a low arch. See the best stability shoes.

    Motion control / severe overpronation / flat feet

    Shoes for runners who needs a lot of arch support. Best for runners with flat feet. See the best motion control shoes.

    Good to know

    - Rule of thumb: If in doubt, buy neutral shoes to avoid injuries.
    - More about arch support in this video.
    - Find your arch type by following steps from this video.

  • Use

    Daily running

    Cushioned shoes for your daily easy running. Great comfort. See best shoes for daily running.

    Competition

    Lightweight shoes good for races, interval training, tempo runs and fartlek. Here are the best competition running shoes.

    Good to know

    If you want just one pair of shoes, buy a shoe for daily running.

  • Price
    $110
  • Weight
    Men: 8.6oz
    Women: 7.4oz
  • Heel to toe drop
    Men: 10mm
    Women: 10mm

    The height difference from the heel to the forefoot, also known as heel drop, toe spring, heel to toe spring or simply drop.

    There are many opinions about what a good heel drop is. We do not recommend any in particular. Lean more in this video.

  • Heel height
    Men: 26mm
    Women: 26mm
  • Forefoot height
    Men: 16mm
    Women: 16mm
  • Width
    Men: normal, wide
    Women: normal, wide
  • Release date
    Apr 2018
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Rankings

Expert Reviews

Experts are runners, who post reviews at youtube, directly at RunRepeat or at their own websites. Each expert is categorized from level 1 to level 5 based on expertise. See stats on expert reviews and how we calculate scores here.

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94 / 100 based on 4 expert reviews

  • 90 / 100 | Mark Highland

    New Balance Summit Unknown: Unwrap your feet and get closer to nature

    Trail running is where my heart really lies. Those ephemeral moments that last so briefly that you wish you had someone to experience that fleeting moment with you.

    I ended up with the New Balance Summit Unknown after some great customer service from New Balance. I was set on using a pair of the Hierro V3 fresh Foam for my races last year but had a bit of a nightmare with them.

     

     

    I think I may have had a defective pair, or they just didn’t work with my forefoot strike. But I ended up with the sole of my foot bruised and then to add to the issues the sole of the right shoe started coming away from the upper.

    Cue the customer service team at New Balance, and after an exchange of emails and images, I was refunded for the shoe, and I ordered the Summit Unknown as a replacement.

    Initial impression

    Out of the box, the bright orange trainers meant that I wasn’t going to be missed on the trails. Eye-catching and the reinforced toe box is reassuring you that those rogue snags won’t be catching your precious toes easily.

    Upper

    The upper material is lightweight but is not waterproof. This does drain and dry quickly. So, your feet don’t feel like they are swamped when you step in that inevitable puddle.

    As many people have mentioned the tongue of these is quite short. But unlike many, I have not experienced any slippage or stones in the shoes. The collar of the shoe is lightly padded and with this shoe being aimed at faster/race runs its intention is evident.

     

    Midsole

    I have run about 120 miles in these shoes on a mixture of trail types along the South Downs Way and the transitions between surfaces have been smooth, even though the shoe is a trail shoe using it along the road to get to or between the trails is comfortable.

    This probably comes down to the Revlite midsole of the shoe, which although not of the maximal design provides good cushioning and protection for the feet. This in part is helped by the footplate in the forefoot to help nullify the hazard of stones impacting the sole of the shoe.

     

     

    The amount of cushioning in the midsole does lead the shoe to feel responsive, and your feet feel in touch with the trail.

    Outsole

    The grip on the outsole of the Summit Unknown is provided by 5mm lugs that perform well on the shales and gravel of the South Downs Way. Whilst easily being able to cope with softer sections of the trail when required.

    I have found limits to the shoe grip at the more extreme end of the mud spectrum. But there are other shoes out there that excel at that which I would use if I needed to. Over wet rocks, the grip is exceptional and gives you the confidence to push hard without fear of slipping.

     

    Conclusion

    This shoe suits me as a forefoot runner, with a need for the shoe to flex in the forefoot. I was surprised at how flexible this shoe was even though it has the incorporated footplate.

    Over shale, gravel, and mud, the grip will not let you down and wearing the shoe on the road to the trails is painless due to the flexibility of the shoe. The only limitation of the shoes I have found has been in the extreme mud and at 175lbs.

    I would have doubts on how my feet would cope with any ultra-distance events in these. I think though that is my limitation rather than the shoes, as I have worn them on the trails for 22 miles without any issues.

    At the moment, these are my go-to trail shoes, and I don’t have any doubt that they will get used until they are gardening shoes. The Summit Unknown will appeal to those looking for a lighter/faster shoe for the trails.

    Many will be drawn to the maximal shoes of the moment, but to me, they wrap your feet in a bubble and shut you off from the trail experience. Unwrap your feet and get closer to nature with these Summit Unknown. You might like it.

    This expert has been verified by RunRepeat. Reviews are neutral, unbiased and based on extensive testing.

  • 92 / 100 | Road Runner Sports

    I just got this out on the trails. It's super fun, lightweight and protective ride.

  • 95 / 100 | Road Trail Run

    The Summit Unknown makes for a great race shoe or up tempo trainer for up to mid distance on a wide variety and especially technical terrain. Despite the initial blister issues, the upper of the Summit Unknown is softening and breaking in to the point where it is less of a problem, but pressure remains and I find myself being cautious.

  • 95 / 100 | Road Trail Run

    I found the Summit Unknown to be an outstanding choice for all around, less than super technical trail running, at speed and for moderate distances. I tend to like such a shoe for my 5-15 mile runs where I will see a mix of terrain and where some agility is needed and it for sure fits the bill.

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Updates to New Balance Summit Unknown

  • The Summit Unknown is a reliable New Balance trail running shoe that’s created for the neutral runner. It features a trail-optimized design to bring confidence over a variety of outdoor terrains. The outer tread makes use of a sticky rubber compound to provide grip on dry and wet surfaces.
  • Cushioning is handled by the RevLite foam which is a full-length compound that offers responsive cushioning and shock attenuation. Affixed between the midsole and outsole is a high-density forefoot plate for protection against debris and irregular surfaces.
  • The upper unit features a synthetic mesh to provide a secure and well-protected coverage. It has tiny ventilation holes that allow air into the foot-chamber. Complementing the external mesh is a set of thin overlays and underlays.

New Balance Summit Unknown size and fit

The New Balance Summit Unknown makes use of standard measurements to accommodate the preferences of consumers. Lengthwise, it adheres to the regular expectations. The women’s version has these widths: B – Medium and D – Wide. The men’s iteration features the D – Medium and 2E – Wide variants. The semi-curved shape of this shoe’s last mimics the natural curvature of the human foot.

Outsole

The outsole unit of the New Balance Summit Unknown utilizes the HydroHesion rubber compound. This full-length material is specially designed to provide traction on wet surfaces. Having this layer would potentially increase confidence when tackling slippery trails and paths.

A semi-aggressive lug-pattern allows this shoe to traverse different types of topography easily. Also, the multi-directional configuration of these nodes permits confident uphill climbs and downward excursions.

Midsole

RevLite is a lightweight material that is advertised as more responsive and sturdier than heavier midsole compounds. It’s been designed to resist early sagging or breakdown.

The Rock Stop® is a layer of dense material that’s placed in the forefoot section. Its purpose is to protect the underfoot from rough surfaces and trail debris. It also attenuates impact shock and diffuses the energy generated by such a force.

A foam insole is placed above the primary midsole unit. It can be replaced or removed entirely.

Upper

The façade is mostly made using a synthetic mesh which is a lightweight material that offers breathable coverage. It has a semi-closed construction to improve its durability.

Fantom Fit is an overlay-and-underlay system that’s composed of two materials that have been combined using a no-sew method. The goal of this add-on is to assist in providing a secure yet customizable fit.

Protecting the forefoot section of the New Balance Summit Unknown is the Toe Protect™ compound, which is a thin layer of rubber that acts as a shield against sharp objects on the trail.

The tongue and collar are padded. These two sections hold the foot in place and prevent it from wobbling inside the foot-chamber.

Soft fabric lines the interior of this shoe. It’s crafted to stave off hot spots and skin irritation.

A pull tab is placed on the back portion of the collar. This loop makes it easy to wear and remove the Summit Unknown.


Comparison