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Best New Balance Skate Sneakers - September 2019
Since its inception in 1906 by William J. Riley, Boston-based brand New Balance has been a consistent strong name in the athletic footwear industry. Although it has established a name for itself through its top-notch quality and classic running shoes, the brand, like its competitors Nike and Adidas among others, eventually managed to expand and include other shoe categories such as casual, hiking, tennis, and skate shoes in its product lineup.
In 2013, New Balance introduced its New Balance Numeric line or otherwise known as the NB#. The Numeric range is skate-focused and houses performance-based New Balance skate shoes that bear classic aesthetics, high-quality construction, and technologically-advanced features that the brand has been known for.
Characteristics of New Balance skate sneakers
When New Balance unveiled its NB# line, it sure knows what it is doing. Having been known as a solid and established foundation in the running community and athletic footwear industry as a whole, New Balance took its century-old core knowledge, principles, and technologies for athletic shoes and applied these to its new line of performance-based skate shoes.
The New Balance skate shoes in the NB# line typically have the following characteristics:
- Less is More. New Balance sneakers are known for their simple, minimal, and classic aesthetic. The same goes for New Balance skate sneakers. Although skate-inspired sneaker models vary in overall design and features, most are minimally-designed with a clean finish style.
- Signature Design Details. Like other sneakers produced by New Balance, those that fall under the NB# line also bear the signature “N” branding on the sides. Most colorways are muted or subdued that brightly-colored pairs are a rare occurrence.
- Materials Matter. New Balance skate sneakers also vary in utilized materials. To hold out against wear and tear of the sport, most of these sneakers feature canvas or suede as primary upper material. Some skate sneakers also use a mix of mesh or synthetic to serve other functions such as increased breathability or additional support and protection.
- High, Mid, or Low? As with other skate shoe brands like Adidas, Nike, Vans, DC, Supra, and Etnies, New Balance offers a wide range of skate sneakers with different cut or profile such as low-top, mid-top, and high-top. These different cuts are discussed in detail below.
- Sneaker Technologies.New Balance skate shoes are designed to perform. And to do so, the brand made sure that each of these shoes is well-equipped with technological advancements that will help wearers maximize its potential on and off the board.
How do New Balance skate sneakers fit?
Performance skate shoes from New Balance generally follows small sizing. Most New Balance Numeric shoes fit small, narrow, and snug that the brand recommends ordering a ½ or 0.5 size bigger than one does in regular New Balance sneakers.
Most of these shoes have a narrow toe box that could be a problem for wide-footed wearers. Another known issue of earlier NB# models was the ill-fitting heel area, but this has been addressed in recent releases like the New Balance Numeric 255 by adding a cushioned heel cap.
NB# cupsole vs vulcanized sole skate sneakers
On sole construction, New Balance skate sneakers are no different to skate shoes produced by other brands. They can only be classified as either cupsole or vulcanized sole (AKA Vulc), and these two differs significantly on how they contribute to a shoe’s performance and level of comfort. The cupsole VS vulc debate has been going on for so long, but it all boils down to personal preference at the end. Below are some of the primary differences between the two sole constructions:
Cupsole New Balance Skate Shoes
- More expensive than vulcanized shoes
- Takes longer time to break in
- Offers greater support and protection
- Gives less board feel
- More durable and stable
Vulcanized New Balance Skate Shoes
- Offers greater board feel
- Less expensive
New Balance skate sneakers with vulc soles: New Balance 379, New Balance Pro Court 213, New Balance 255, New Balance Pro Court 212
Classifications of New Balance skate shoes based on cut
As mentioned above, NB skate-based sneakers can be classified depending on cut or profile. Like sneakers in other categories, skate sneakers from New Balance vary in collar height. They can either be called low-top, mid-top, or high-top. Below is a detailed discussion about this.
Low-Top New Balance skate sneakers
Low-top New Balance skate shoes are those with collars that fall just below the ankle. These shoes offer more flexibility and movement, but less ankle support and protection. Style-wise, they are versatile and suit a wide array of outfits may it be for skateboarding or casual use. Of the three types, low-tops dominate the NB# line.
Examples of low-top NB skate shoes:
1. New Balance 331
The New Balance 331 is a classic skate shoe from the New Balance Numeric skate line. It is a unisex style available in men's sizing both in Standard (D) and Wide (E) width. For ensured long-lasting durability, it features a suede upper with quarter panel reinforcements. Tonal laces and signature NB brandings are also incorporated for that street-ready look, while a vulcanized outsole with herringbone-patterned treads sealed off its façade. The NB 331 is available in a myriad of colorways.
2. New Balance 210
Also available in several colorway options is the New Balance 210 skate shoe. It is inspired by the NB Pro Court model with features such as durable suede and canvas upper, vulcanized sole unit, and deconstructed design. The toe cap is multilayered to withstand every wear and tear of skateboarding, while a closed cell PU insert is added for impact protection. The NB210 is a unisex shoe offered in men’s sizing in Standard (D) width. It fits true to size.
3. New Balance 598
For the New Balance Numeric 598 model, New Balance took inspirations from its retro NB 998 model. The low-top performance-ready skate shoe took the DNA of the classic 998, slimmed it down, and re-engineered to better suit skateboarding. First dropped in 2016, the 598 has been continuously receiving new releases in varying materials and colors.
Among the notable features of this low-top New Balance skate sneaker are a premium suede upper, breathable mesh tongue, closed cell PU insert for impact protection, one-piece to with internal reinforcement, gum rubber outsole, REVlite midsole, and padded collar.
4. New Balance Pro Court 212
The NB Pro Court 212, otherwise merely referred to as the NB 212, is a low-top skate-specific rendition of New Balance’s clay court tennis trainers from the ‘70s. It flaunts a canvas upper with suede and leather reinforcements on high wear areas, but some colorways feature leather or suede as primary top material. Other features include rope or flat laces depending on the colorway, multilayered toe cap, closed cell PU insert for impact protection, and vulcanized sole with NDurance gum rubber.
5. New Balance 420
The New Balance Numeric 420 is one of the newest silhouettes from the NB# line. Designed by pro skater Marquise Henry, the low-top 420 took inspirations from a classic New Balance running shoe but constructed for skateboarding. Unlike most skate shoes, its upper features synthetic materials on high wear areas and breathable mesh on other parts for a lightweight ride. Also featured are a cupsole construction, REVlite midsole for additional support and protection, and lightly padded collar and tongue.
Mid-Top New Balance skate sneakers
Mid-top skate shoes from New Balance have collars that are not too high nor too low. They are the perfect compromise between high-tops and low-tops as their collars just fall right at the ankle level. These shoes offer sufficient ankle support and protection while not being too restrictive.
Examples of mid-top NB skate shoes:
1. New Balance Pro Court 213
Another addition to the highly-acclaimed New Balance Numeric Pro Court series is the mid-top 213 silhouette. Its higher collar gives additional support and protection, while it canvas-based upper with suede branding maintains durability and comfort. It also features a double-layer suede Ollie area, multilayered toe cap, closed cell PU insert for impact protection, gum rubber outsole, and vulcanized sole.
2. New Balance 346
The New Balance Numeric 346 is an upgraded version of the pro skaters favorite 345. It boasts the same simple and minimal aesthetics as its predecessor but is updated with a higher collar cut for additional ankle support and protection. It has a multilayered toe cap, a vulcanized sole, reinforced toe, and ABZORB inserts.
High-Top New Balance skate sneakers
High-top NB skate shoes are the opposite of the low-tops as they have a high collar that extends past the ankle level. Unlike those skate shoes with low cuts, they offer ample support and protection around the ankle. However, high-tops could be not as versatile as their lows counterpart in the style department. They can also be somehow restrictive since they give a lockdown fit on foot.
Example of high-top NB skate sneakers:
1. New Balance Brighton High 354
Most NB skate shoes follow a low- or mid-top construction, but the New Balance Brighton High 354 is one of the few with a high-top silhouette. Also referred to as the NB Brighton Hi 354, the high-top skate shoe features a suede upper, EVA insoles, hex-patterned rubber outsole, vulcanized sole, padded collar, and elastic gusseted tongue.
Frequently Asked Questions about NB skate shoes
What is the New Balance skate team called?
Like Adidas, Nike, Vans, and DC, New Balance also has a team of professional skateboarders that help in designing, conceptualizing, and marketing of its shoes under the New Balance Numeric (NB#) line. The team is called the New Balance Numeric Skate Team.
Who are the members of the New Balance skate team?
Some of the renowned professional skateboarders under the New Balance Numeric Skate Team are PJ Ladd, Arto Saari, Tom Knox, Levi Brown, Tom Karangelov, Jake Hayes, Chad Tim Tim, Tyler Surrey, Jordan Taylor, Jordan Trahan, Marquise Henry, Jack Curtin, Marius Syvanen, and more.
Where are New Balance skate shoes made?
New Balance is known for its made in the USA shoes. The brand manufactures some of its famous classic models domestically through its five facilities in Maine and Massachusetts. These shoes are labeled with "Made in the USA." However, sneakers under the New Balance Numeric line lack such labels. There are online reports that most of New Balance shoes or those not labeled with a "Made in the USA" tag are manufactured or assembled outside the US - in Asia, in particular.
Who distributes New Balance skate shoes?
All shoes under the New Balance Numeric line are distributed by Black Box Distribution, a skateboard distributor company founded and owned by professional skateboarder Jamie Thomas.
Are NB skate sneakers durable?
Yes. Skate shoes from New Balance have been wear tested and generally proven durable on and off the board. They are designed and constructed to perform as high-quality skate shoes without sacrificing style and overall comfort. Although upper materials may vary from synthetic leather to suede or canvas, these shoes are known to last long.
What kind of sneaker technologies are used on New Balance skate sneakers?
Here are some of New Balance’s technologies that are used on the brand’s line of skate shoes:
- Abzorb – cushioning technology also used on New Balance’s running, training, hiking, casual, and other shoe categories.
- Ndurance - outsole technology using specialized rubber material for extended durability in high wear areas of skate shoes for long-lasting performance.
- REVlite – cushioning foam technology that offers superior and lightweight comfort and stability.
Are New Balance NM shoes customizable?
Unfortunately, no. New Balance's customizable shoes exclude those in the NB# line. It only currently includes some of the lifestyle and baseball sneaker models.
How do you clean skate shoes from New Balance?
Clean your New Balance skate shoes like how you usually clean your casual sneakers. Avoid washing them in a washing machine, and instead, use a soft brush and a water-soap solution. Also, avoid using harsh chemicals like bleach as it could damage the materials and aesthetic of your kick. Once done cleaning, air dry the shoes and do not subject them to direct heat or sunlight.
Are there any NB# shoes for women?
Most releases under New Balance’s skate-focused line is only available in men’s sizing, but are unisex in style. The ladies are advised to grab a pair of their desired shoes 1.5 to sizes smaller than they usually are in regular women’s sizing.
How much are skate sneakers from New Balance?
NB skate sneakers are generally affordable or budget friendly. One can get a pair for as low as about $60 to a little over $100.
15 best New Balance skate sneakers
- New Balance 331
- New Balance Numeric 379
- New Balance 210
- New Balance Pro Court 213
- New Balance Numeric 420
- New Balance Numeric 913 Pro Model
- New Balance AM574
- New Balance 255
- New Balance 868
- New Balance 913
- New Balance 345
- New Balance PJ Ladd 533 v2
- New Balance 346
- New Balance 424
- New Balance 598
A score from 1 to 100 that summarizes opinions from users and experts. The average CoreScore is 78. More...