As one of the largest sporting footwear manufacturers in the world (and having been in business for over 100 years), New Balance has become a go-to brand of people looking for quality and comfortable sneakers. But what about hiking shoes?
Does New Balance make a hiking shoe in the first place?
The answer is YES.
While the New Balance hiking footwear line isn't something you'd take to some of the most rugged terrains out there or to backpacking trips in the Alps, they certainly have the qualities and features that will let you go farther and longer without sacrificing comfort.
What makes New Balance hiking shoes good for hiking?
There are many reasons why a lot of people choose New Balance hiking shoes:
Comfort. Hiking is fun but it's not easy. Each journey can be challenging and could mean "tired feet" at the end of the day. Therefore, finding a comfortable hiking shoe is very important. Thankfully, New Balance hiking shoes rank high in terms of comfort. The reason is they use premium materials for the upper and cushioning, such as soft and breathable mesh, premium leather, EVA midsole, and durable rubber outsoles.
Versatility. Most New Balance hiking shoes for men and women can be used for trail running and activities around the town. The Men's 520v5, for example, is designed for hiking, tough training sessions, and weekend errands. There are some models, however, that are specific to hiking, such as the New Balance 978 which features responsive midsole cushioning, a waterproof membrane, and multidirectional lugs in the outsole.
Price. New Balance hiking shoes range in prices but on average, they fall within the mid-range. One can buy a premium leather shoe for about $150 or a cheap hiking shoe for under $70. Many factors come into play when it comes to shoe prices. Basically, those that offer more features or contain high-end materials like leather or a BOA lacing system (similar to those used in mountaineering boots), have higher prices.
Features. New Balance is among the few performance footwear brands that offer shoes in a full range of widths: x-narrow, narrow, standard, medium, wide, x-wide, etc. This makes them a great choice for people with odd foot sizes or those who have feet problems, such as overpronation or supination. Also, most New Balance trail shoes are available in men and women’s sizes.
What goes into a men's and women's New Balance hiking shoe?
Durable outsole. When it comes to hiking shoes, most people pay attention to the outsole, particularly the lugging pattern, thickness, and type of rubber used. New Balance hiking shoes either have Vibram soles or their brand-exclusive sole technology. Each shoe model features different tread patterns, and lug shape and depth depending on the types of terrain they are designed for.
Rollbar technology. Meant for hikers who have overpronation, this proprietary solution from New Balance consists of a molded plate under the heel connected to the postings of the inner and outer edges of the shoe. It works by preventing the foot from rolling inward, thus, providing support for overpronators.
Innovative cushioning system. Aimed at making hiking shoes really comfortable, New Balance is a pioneer to some of the most innovative cushioning systems. For instance, they’ve leveraged the benefits of 3D printing to make flexible, durable, and lightweight midsoles which make hiking more enjoyable for most people.
Supportive uppers. Most trail runners by New Balance are made of durable synthetic uppers (either mesh, textile, or both). Some models feature midfoot wraps that help keep the foot stay in place while other NB hikers feature a bootie construction for a custom-like fit. Meanwhile, most of their outdoor walking shoes are made of leather for durability.
Is New Balance the best hiking shoe for men and women?
New Balance has definitely made a mark in the sportswear industry. Over the years, they’ve developed several hiking shoe models.
It’s hard to tell whether New Balance is the best brand for hiking shoes as different factors come into play and people have different needs and preferences. Generally speaking, New Balance makes great trail runners and walking shoes.
But while they offer protection, durability, and support, these shoes are more suitable for well-maintained trails. They have some of the best trail runners, in particular. New Balance is known for producing quality runners that are lightweight and comfortable.
What New Balance hiking shoes are right for you?
New Balance offers different models for hiking shoes. Here are some important things to consider to trim down your choices:
Purpose. First of all, it’s important to determine the type of activities you’ll use it for. For example, if running on trails, you need shoes with aggressive tread patterns, stiffer midsoles, heel brakes, and increased support. If hiking on challenging terrain, a light hiking shoe is a great option. This type of shoe has stiffer soles, protective uppers, and high-traction soles.
Weight. Many people don’t pay much attention to the shoe weight until they start wearing it. Ideally, you want a lightweight hiking shoe for most of your day hiking activities. But if you’re backpacking and carrying a heavy load, you’d want a pair of hiking shoes that are not as lightweight.
Features. New Balance shoes come in both waterproof and non-waterproof options. While waterproof hiking shoes offer more protection when you’re on the trail, they are less breathable which can make hiking on super hot days tormenting. For waterproofing, they use several methods like treating leather or attaching a waterproof membrane like Gore-Tex.
Nice to Know
While New Balance is known world-wide for its best-selling sneakers, the company didn’t actually start with this product line. Rather, they first sold arch supports which were called New Balance Arch.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do the model numbers mean in NB trail shoes?
The model number is a naming system of New Balance. Often, the higher-numbered styles have more features than the lower-numbered styles. But that’s not always the case. It’s still important to check what the shoe is best used for as well as the specific features before deciding on which model to buy.
What is New Balance Fresh Foam?
This company-exclusive technology is meant to provide increased cushioning and underfoot protection. New Balance shoes with Fresh Foam midsoles are great for trail running.
Is it OK to wear running shoes for walking?
It depends. In general, running shoes have more cushioning on the heel and forefoot. Running causes more impact on your feet and therefore, your shoes need to provide more support and cushioning. Meanwhile, walking doesn't cause much impact as running so your feet won't need so much cushioning. For casual walks, it's better to use walking shoes but for fitness walking (e.g. brisk walking) as well as long-distance walking, running shoes will work just as fine.
Can you hike in running shoes?
Yes. Trail runners are the best running shoes to hike in because they have features that will keep your feet safe on the trail, such as aggressive outsoles, arch support, and protective uppers.
Ultralight backpackers may also opt for trail running shoes because they are very lightweight and flexible. However, if you are carrying extra weight, you should stick to high-top, heavier models because they deliver more ankle and lateral support.
What are the styles available for NB shoes?
New Balance offers two types of hiking shoes: trail runners and trail walking shoes. For trail running, their collection includes lightweight and minimalist shoes, as well as shoes that have additional cushioning. Most of these models are made of mesh and synthetic uppers.
For trail walking, New Balance hiking shoes are mostly made of leather uppers. They are heavier, sturdier, and have deeper lugs in the outsole. Generally, they are more rugged than trail running shoes but feature more durable construction.
How do New Balance shoes fit?
New Balance hiking shoes are available in varying widths and sizes, from narrow to extra-extra wide. The best way to determine your shoe size is to have your feet measured by a professional. Getting the right size and fit will make hiking more comfortable and prevent blisters and hotspots.
Additionally, your heel should fit snugly into the shoe without slipping. Foot cramping and getting calluses or blisters between your toes suggest that your shoes are too small for you.
How many miles do New Balance shoes last?
New Balance is known for manufacturing high-quality shoes. Generally, you should be able to cover 400 miles with your NB shoes before they need to be replaced. However, note that there are many factors that affect the longevity of hiking shoes, such as your body weight, the types of terrain you’re on, etc.
In addition to the mileage, there are other signs that your New Balance hiking shoes already need replacement. These are:
Poor shock absorption. When you feel the impact of running or walking on your feet, knees, and hips, this means that your shoe has lost its shock absorption quality.
Worn-out treads. Soles last longer than the cushioning and the upper. So if the sole of your shoes has worn out, it’s a sure sign that they already need to be replaced.
Pain when walking or running. This means that your hiking shoes are no longer delivering the support and protection your feet need.
1 best New Balance hiking shoes
- New Balance 978