After putting it to the test, the New Balance FuelCell Echo impressed us in short-distance runs. It's a neutral daily running shoe that's responsive, light, and flexible. And among all other entry-level shoes we've put on, it's what we consider top-notch quality! It's affordable but it's got what it takes to last.
The New Balance Fuelcell Echo is a lightweight, neutral running shoe that is affordable. I most appreciated the springy cushioning and the sock-like upper, which made for a comfortable running experience over shorter distances. However, runners seeking a traditional shoe with a greater level of arch support are advised to look elsewhere.
Overall, I very highly recommend the New Balance FuelCell Echo for those who prefer low-mileage running.
Who should buy it
The shoe is recommended for:
runners seeking a lightweight, flexible shoe for short runs
beginners looking for an affordable and high-quality entry-level shoe
Who should NOT buy it
Consider other models if you are:
a runner with a tendency to overpronate (in this case, check out the lightweight and comfortable New Balance 860 v11)
This fits true to size and width. I am a standard 9/9.5 medium width on a Brannock device, and the New Balance FuelCell Echo fits just as I would expect in a 9.5.
Secure, snug foothold
The sock-like upper of this New Balance model is flexible and stretchy, as are the laces. This allows for a very secure, snug foothold. My feet felt like they were wrapped in a soft, comfortable sling during my runs. This prevented any chafing or hot spots from occurring.
The gusseted shoe tongue also helped to secure my feet by preventing the tongue from slipping down into the shoe or to the side.
Sufficient cushioning for shorter runs
The FuelCell material in the shoe’s midsole provides ample cushioning with a medium amount of energy return. The cushioning used in this shoe is firm enough to support the foot but springy enough to absorb a lot of the impact from running. The FuelCell material extends the full length of the shoe. My feet felt propelled through the gait cycle, yet I could still feel the ground (as I prefer).
However, for running more than a short-to-moderate distance on pavement, I would recommend a shoe with more substantial cushioning. My feet started to feel somewhat tired by mile 4 on most of my runs in this shoe. This doesn’t happen to me when I run in my typical shoe (Asics Cumulus). I would describe the cushioning in this model as perfect for a 5K!
Supportive external heel counter
The New Balance FuelCell Echo boasts a plastic external heel counter which adds some rigidity to the heel cup without sacrificing the shoe’s low weight. I found this heel counter to be very effective at providing rearfoot stability and preventing unwanted heel slippage during the gait cycle. It seemed firm enough to hold my heels in place but not so firm as to cause chafing.
The lower drop isn’t going to work for everyone
This running shoe offers a 6mm heel-to-toe drop. As someone who is used to a traditional running shoe, the change to a 6mm drop required some adjustment. I could feel my calf muscles working harder in this model as I ran. This meant that my runs became a bit more of a workout than I was used to!
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, from a strengthening perspective, I enjoyed the change of pace. But the lower drop isn’t going to work for everyone.
If you are coming from a higher-drop model, I recommend easing into the New Balance FuelCell Echo by rotating them with your traditional runners. Try them first on very short runs (2-3 miles) and work your way into longer distances. If this feels good, then the lower drop is probably working for you.
The New Balance FuelCell Echo is very flexible
I found this running shoe to be very flexible during my runs. It wasn’t stiff at all, even right out of the box. The toe area flexed nicely during the gait cycle. The shoe also did not bend too much at the midfoot, which is as it should be. This facilitated a very natural-feeling run.
Outsole provides superb grip
The ripple-patterned outsole of the FuelCell Echo includes the NDurance compound, which is a harder rubber that is designed to withstand wear during road running. I found the outsole to be very grippy on roads and sidewalks. I felt secure during my runs, never concerned with slipping.
The outsole also extends back behind the heel, adding some extra rearfoot balance and support. Note that the pattern of this outsole is designed to grip roads and treadmills, not offroad terrain.
Required no break-in period
The FuelCell Echo needed no break-in at all. There were no parts of the shoe that needed to “wear in” for greater comfort. I simply laced them up and went for a 4-mile run right away without issue!
The New Balance FuelCell Echo appears durable
Although I have only owned the New Balance FuelCell Echo for a few weeks, the shoe has held up very well so far and appears durable. The materials have not come unstitched despite multiple runs. The outsoles did not appear overly broken down despite use on rough pavement. I expect that this shoe will last me for quite some time.
The New Balance FuelCell Echo is incredibly light
Weighing in at a scant 10.1oz/286g, this New Balance running shoe is one of the lightest I have ever tried in my 23 years of running. The light design allowed me to achieve great times on 3-4 mile runs!
Ultra-breathable, seamless upper
The upper of the FuelCell Echo is very breathable. It is ultra-thin and perforated throughout, allowing air to pass over the foot during running. My feet never felt the least bit overheated during any of my runs in this model. The upper of this shoe is also seamless, to prevent irritation.
Excessive heel collar height
The New Balance FuelCell Echo provides a heel collar that rises up above the Achilles area. This heel collar is designed to hold the rearfoot in place. However, the extreme height of this collar slightly irritated my feet until I wore them with a higher-collared sock. At that point, there was no more issue. I recommend using higher socks with this model of shoe to prevent any rearfoot rubbing or chafing.
Very reasonably priced
At $100, the New Balance FuelCell Echo is a very affordable shoe. It is about $22 cheaper than other road running shoes (the average price is $122). This makes it an excellent choice for runners seeking an affordable performance model.
Sleek, modern style
The style of the New Balance FuelCell Echo is very modern with a few retro details. With the sock-like upper and bright color patterns on the midsole and outsole, this shoe looks very contemporary. It also reminds me of some of the designs that Nike has used since the 1980s on its lighter running models. This FuelCell Echo is a performance running shoe that could probably work for casual wear too.
Reflective material on the heel is an added bonus
One additional feature of the New Balance FuleCell Echo is the inclusion of a large patch of reflective material on the heel cup of both shoes. This feature is generally included in more expensive running shoe models. It allows runners to feel safer when running at night. I was pleased that New Balance thought to include this detail on a budget-minded shoe.
In summary, the New Balance Fulecell Echo is a solid performer that offers an incredibly lightweight design at an affordable price.
I’m Dave Cooley, a forty-something father of two and a fitness enthusiast living in the suburbs outside of San Diego. I have been able to maintain a good fitness routine since I decided to begin running in 1998. I run about 10 miles per week as well as lifting weights, hiking and practicing yoga. My focus has always been on maintaining a sustainable fitness routine which can be incorporated into my busy life, and I also want to model for my children that adults can be fit and healthy.