Our verdict

Having figured out the strengths and weaknesses of the New Balance Hesi Low, we think that it will best suit beginner players who are quick on their feet. This unassuming kick is lighter and more pliable than the average hoop shoe and is more about freedom of movement than it is about support. As long as you don't expect maximum impact protection and stability, you will enjoy this affordable New Balance offering.

Pros

  • Lighter than average
  • Feels nimble on foot
  • Excellent ground feel
  • Responsive cushioning
  • Surprisingly stable
  • Grip is fine after a warm-up
  • Great durability for indoor courts

Cons

  • Not breathable at all
  • Not for outdoor play
  • Possible heel slippage (fixed by using the extra eyelet)

Audience verdict

80
Good!

Who should buy

We believe that the New Balance Hesi Low is going to click with the following players:

  • beginner athletes in search of an affordable but solid option
  • nimble players who prefer light, flexible, and minimal hoop shoes
  • lighter folks who prefer court feel over impact protection

New Balance Hesi Low review

Who should NOT buy

If you are a heavier player who needs a lot of underfoot cushion, we highly recommend that you opt for the New Balance Fresh Foam BB instead. Another solid alternative is the NB TWO WXY v4.

Both of these options also proved to be ready for outdoor courts.

New Balance Hesi Low lab test

Breathability

Although the NB Hesi Low uses a great deal of mesh in the upper, its ventilation capacity is close to zero.

Pumping smoke into the shoe's upper, we expected at least some of it to come out on the other side. But there was no airflow whatsoever! It's like the shoe's upper is entirely made of thick synthetics.

Even though our transparency test showed that the toebox material was rather thin and transparent, it had nothing to do with its breathability.

New Balance Hesi Low Breathability microscope test

The puzzle pieces started to come together when we looked at the mesh through our microscope.

New Balance Hesi Low Breathability mesh under microscope

With multiple mesh layers overlapping each other, it is clear why the air has a hard time passing through the pores.

We had no choice but to give this New Balance shoe the lowest breathability score of 1.

Test results
Hesi Low 1
Average 2.4
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Breathability
5

Durability

Toebox durability

But there is an upside to this multi-layered mesh - it proved to be much more resistant to abrasion than most mesh uppers in our durability test!

The shoe's toebox was exposed to the sandpaper tip of our Dremel for 12 seconds at a consistent speed (5K RPM) and pressure (3.2N).

New Balance Hesi Low Toebox durability comparison

As you can see, we touched both protected and unprotected areas of the toebox and both did a good job resisting the wear and tear.

Considering the moderate nature of the damage, we rated the shoe's toebox durability with an average score - 3 out of 5. We consider it a rather good result for a shoe at this price point.

Test results
Hesi Low 3
Average 3.7
Compared to 31 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Toebox durability
5

Heel padding durability

The shoe's inner lining also surprised us with a high level of resilience.

After a 4-second encounter with sandpaper, the signs of wear were very minimal. On a 1-5 scale where 5 is the most durable, we rated the shoe's heel lining with a solid 4.

New Balance Hesi Low Heel padding durability comparison
Test results
Hesi Low 4
Average 3.6
Compared to 28 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel padding durability
5

Outsole hardness

The Hesi Low features two types of rubber in the outsole - softer translucent rubber for the centre and lateral side and harder rubber for the medial side and the logo.

New Balance Hesi Low traction pattern

Pressing our Shore C durometer against the translucent rubber (most of the outsole) returned 75.6 HC. As expected, it is a bit softer than average.

New Balance Hesi Low Outsole hardness translucent rubber

The hard rubber, on the other hand, showed a higher reading of 82.0 HC. It indicates a firmer and tougher compound.

New Balance Hesi Low Outsole hardness Secondary rubber

Test results
Hesi Low 75.6 HC
Average 81.5 HC
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
59.5 HC
Outsole hardness
91.0 HC

Outsole durability

We applied our Dremel to the softer rubber to check the shoe's weakest spot.

The drilling lasted 22 seconds and the speed was set to the higher 10K RPM. The pressure remained consistent at 3.2N.

New Balance Hesi Low Outsole durability test

To our surprise, the translucent rubber didn't do so badly! The damage was only 1.4 mm deep which is not much worse than the average.

Test results
Hesi Low 1.4 mm
Average 1.0 mm
Compared to 19 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole wear
2.0 mm

Outsole thickness

This New Balance shoe also boasts a pretty thick outsole. With a calliper measurement of 5.6 mm, it is about 1.5 mm thicker than average.

New Balance Hesi Low Outsole thickness

Does this mean that the Hesi Low can be used on outdoor courts? Well, we don't 100% recommend it because the treading made of softer rubber will wear out faster on concrete.

Even though the outsole can take a beating, it will lose its grip prematurely.

New Balance Hesi Low outsole design

For an outdoor-ready basketball shoe from New Balance, try the TWO WXY v4.

Test results
Hesi Low 5.6 mm
Average 4.0 mm
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Outsole thickness
6.9 mm

Weight

One of the reasons why the New Balance Hesi Low is a fantastic option for quick players is, of course, its weight.

New Balance Hesi Low Weight

Tipping the scale at only 12.9 oz (366g), it is more than an ounce lighter than the average hoop shoe.

New Balance Hesi Low style

Test results
Hesi Low 12.91 oz (366g)
Average 14.18 oz (402g)
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
11.29 oz (320g)
Weight
17.46 oz (495g)

Cushioning

Heel stack

We discovered that ground feel definitely prevails over impact protection in the New Balance Hesi Low.

New Balance Hesi Low Heel stack

Measuring its heel stack with a calliper, we got a lower-than-average measurement of 26.1 mm.

We are convinced that a bigger player will not enjoy the ride of the Hesi Low due to the lack of shock absorption. But to be fair, it is not the target audience of this shoe either.

For more abundant cushioning, look into the brand's Fresh Foam BB (32.6 mm of stack in the heel).

Test results
Hesi Low 26.1 mm
Average 30.0 mm
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
25.2 mm
Heel stack
38.4 mm

Forefoot stack

The Hesi Low also felt pretty low to the court under the balls of our feet.

New Balance Hesi Low Forefoot stack

With a forefoot stack of 21.4 mm, it offers an essential amount of cushioning but nothing to write home about.

However, this setup has its own benefits such as enhanced flexibility and freedom of movement for the foot. This is exactly what a quick-footed, shifty player would appreciate.

Test results
Hesi Low 21.4 mm
Average 21.9 mm
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
18.2 mm
Forefoot stack
29.2 mm

Drop

The New Balance Hesi Low also feels grounded and stable thanks to its low heel-to-toe drop.

New Balance Hesi Low Drop

We found that the difference in stack heights comes in at only 4.7 mm in this basketball shoe. The lowest one we ever recorded in a hoop shoe was 4.0 mm whereas the highest reaches 14.8 mm!

Even though lower drops provide less support for the player's heels and Achilles tendons, it creates a more surefooted experience that helps you feel more in control.

Test results
Hesi Low 4.7 mm
Average 8.1 mm
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
4.0 mm
Drop
14.8 mm

Midsole softness

Note: a low durometer measurement equals a soft material, whereas a high measurement means it's firm.

The Hesi Low relies on a full-length FuelCell foam for cushioning.

We found it to be moderately soft but very pleasantly responsive. Measuring its softness with a durometer, we got 25.0 HA which is on par with the average midsole softness of basketball shoes.

New Balance Hesi Low Midsole softness

Test results
Hesi Low 25.0 HA
Average 26.0 HA
We use an average of four tests. The photo shows one of those tests.
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
11.0 HA
Midsole softness (soft to firm)
35.9 HA

Insole thickness

A well-cushioned insole adds a touch of underfoot comfort to the Hesi Low. We measured its thickness in the heel at 4.8 mm - slightly thicker than average.

New Balance Hesi Low Insole thickness
Test results
Hesi Low 4.8 mm
Average 4.4 mm
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
0.0 mm
Insole thickness
8.6 mm

Stability

Lateral stability test

Even though the NB Hesi Low is not a heavily layered and super structured basketball shoe, it kept us sufficiently supported on the court.

Compared to its counterpart, the NB TWO WXY V4, the Hesi Low has a much lower midsole topline, no additional supportive elements, and a notably lower collar.

New Balance Hesi Low vs. New Balance TWO WXY V4

But the Hesi Low does pack the most essential elements to provide stability to an entry-level player whose playing style is not too forceful and aggressive.

Torsional rigidity

The shoe features a small but stiff shank on top of the FuelCell foam in the midfoot.

It adds a good deal of rigidity to the shoe's platform along with the firm carrier foam and thick rubber outsole.

When combined, these features create a sufficiently rigid platform that doesn't let the foot buckle so easily.

On a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the stiffest, we rated this shoe's torsional rigidity as 4 in our manual test.

Test results
Hesi Low 4
Average 4.5
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Torsional rigidity
5

Heel counter stiffness

The New Balance Hesi Low loses a couple of stability points in the rearfoot where its heel counter proved to be more forgiving than we expected.

Don't be misled by the rubber overlay around the heel - it is actually rather pliable.

In our manual test, we assessed the shoe's heel counter stiffness with a lower-than-average score - 3 out of 5. It's not the strongest heel hold to expect in a basketball shoe.

Test results
Hesi Low 3
Average 3.6
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1
Heel counter stiffness
5

Midsole width in the forefoot

Thanks to the shoe's forefoot outrigger, we experienced a pretty solid footing on forceful side-to-side movements.

New Balance Hesi Low Midsole width in the forefoot

Using a calliper, we measured its widest part at 118.1 mm which is about 4 mm wider than average!

We were able to lean on the outer edge of the foot and spring back effortlessly thanks to the shoe's extended contact point.

Test results
Hesi Low 118.1 mm
Average 114.2 mm
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
106.2 mm
Midsole width in the forefoot
122.2 mm

Midsole width in the heel

We also measured the widest area of the shoe's heel but it happened to be just as wide as the average.

Still solid width though!

New Balance Hesi Low Midsole width in the heel
Test results
Hesi Low 91.1 mm
Average 91.2 mm
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
82.4 mm
Midsole width in the heel
105.1 mm

Flexibility

Stiffness

The Hesi Low's nimble nature is also reflected in its rather flexible build.

We measured the shoe's level of flexibility using a force gauge - the less force it takes to bend a shoe to a 90-degree angle, the more flexible it is.

Turns out, it only required 29.5N which is 37% less than it takes a basketball shoe on average.

New Balance Hesi Low flexibility

It felt relieving to play in a more forgiving hoop shoe after testing so many rigid options.

Test results
Hesi Low 29.5N
Average 40.7N
We use an average of four tests. The video shows one of those tests.
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
29.5N
Stiffness
67.2N

Grip / Traction

The gripping capacity of the New Balance Hesi Low is not bad but it's not impressive either.

New Balance Hesi Low grip

It also takes some warming up of the rubber before the shoe's traction pattern reveals its full potential.

Overall, the grip was fine and we didn't experience any major slippage or missteps.

Size and fit

Toebox width at the widest part

The New Balance Hesi Low felt pretty snug around the balls of our feet but opened up around the toes.

New Balance Hesi Low fit

Measuring the widest part of the shoe's forefoot, our calliper showed some of the narrowest readings among basketball shoes - 97.3 mm.

New Balance Hesi Low Toebox width at the widest part

Because it is on the verge of running narrow, we recommend that wide-footed players size up or opt for a different shoe altogether.

Test results
Hesi Low 97.3 mm
Average 101.0 mm
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
92.6 mm
Toebox width at the widest part
108.2 mm

Toebox width at the big toe

The rest of the toebox, however, has a pretty spacious rounded shape with a lot of breathing room.

New Balance Hesi Low Toebox width at the big toe

Measuring it with a calliper returned 79.2 mm - a couple of millimetres wider than average.

New Balance Hesi Low extra eyelet

Perhaps this extra space is the reason why we experienced slight heel slippage in the Hesi Low. Luckily, we managed that one with a runner's knot using the extra eyelet.

Test results
Hesi Low 79.2 mm
Average 77.2 mm
Compared to 34 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
71.2 mm
Toebox width at the big toe
85.1 mm

Tongue: gusset type

We appreciated the fact that the shoe's tongue is integrated into the shoe's bootie design. We believe that an attached tongue is a must if you want a secure lockdown inside your basketball shoes.

New Balance Hesi Low Tongue: gusset type
Test results
Hesi Low Bootie

Comfort

Tongue padding

The shoe's tongue is moderately padded with a foam thickness of 7.0 mm. Just enough to keep the lace pressure at bay.

New Balance Hesi Low Tongue padding
Test results
Hesi Low 7.0 mm
Average 9.3 mm
Compared to 40 basketball shoes
Number of shoes
1.3 mm
Tongue padding
15.1 mm

Heel tab

No finger loops or heel tabs are to be seen on the New Balance Hesi Low.

New Balance Hesi Low Heel tab

But it's not a problem considering the shoe's low cut and pretty easy-to-handle collar.

Test results
Hesi Low None

Removable insole

You can opt for a custom orthotic in the Hesi Low. It's stock insole is easily removable.

New Balance Hesi Low Removable insole
Test results
Hesi Low Yes