What You Need To Know
- We break down our 8 best New Balance running shoes at the moment
- From racing to tempo to slow days to trails, we got you covered
- Any questions? Drop it in the comments. Otherwise, let’s get you educated.
You might picture chunky dad shoes when you think of New Balance, but it’s time to leave those thoughts in the past. We won’t disparage the classic 574, but good luck racking up miles in them. Instead, here are the best New Balance running shoes on the market.
We haven’t been shy about showing our love to the Boston-based company. This list will dig into a few max-cushion shoes, some speed demons, and one of our favorite shoes — potentially of all time. New Balance seems to have given its style department a massive boost in the past year, so get ready for some serious heat.
We’ve limited ourselves to the top 8 options for now (your wallet will thank us) so let’s get to it. (The list is not in any particular order, check back for updates throughout the year).
New Balance 101: What To Look For
Before we actually get to the shoes, it’s time for a little education. New Balance, like any running shoe company, seems to have its own language when it comes to technology. You’ll need to know at least a little bit about the most popular foams and upper materials to make an informed purchase.
Here’s your quick lesson:
- Fresh Foam – Launched in 2013, New Balance’s popular springy-yet-stable EVA foam. Found on both road and trail shoes.
- FuelCell – New Balance’s high-rebound foam, launched in 2017. Consists of nitrogen-fueled TPU foam. Bouncy and fun.
- Hypoknit – Mesh material used in uppers. Carefully crafted to stretch in some areas and provide support in others.
- DynaRide – Tough, lightweight outsole rubber designed to deliver traction in adverse conditions.
- Ultra Heel – Improved heel support for a more secure fit. Also a good name for going-out shoes.
The Best New Balance Running Shoes
• Fresh Foam 1080v12
Use: Long, comfortable road miles | Drop: 8mm | Price: $160
After a few years of staying the course, the Fresh Foam 1080v12 got some major updates for 2022. It still has the same slab of Fresh Foam X that we know and love, but the upper is all-new. Gone is the dreaded UltraHeel, and in its place is a much more comfortable counter. Thomas kicked off his review waxing poetic about his own personal history with the 1080 (and I have 750 miles across two pairs of the v11 myself). New Balance’s revamped HypoKnit upper stretches and molds to your foot, and it melds nicely into the 8mm drop.
As always, softness is the name of the Fresh Foam X game. This year’s formulation is supposed to be the softest yet, which lends well to comfort on long days. It does seem like the 1080v12 picked up a few grams over last year’s edition, but that could be down to the weird sizing and updated heel. We’re happy to call it the best Fresh Foam 1080 to date, but you might want to try it on before you buy it — just in case New Balance hasn’t fixed the slightly off sizing.Shop New Balance 1080 – Men Shop New Balance 1080 – Women
• FuelCell Rebel v3
Use: Even more of anything | Drop: 6mm | Price: $130 (Seriously!)
Has anything ever had as meteoric of a rise as the New Balance FuelCell Rebel? The Beatles, maybe? We weren’t sure about version one, but the Rebel v2 shot to among our favorite trainers of all time. If anything, we were worried about the Rebel v3 because we didn’t know how New Balance could make a good thing much better. The answer is that it democratized the Rebel. Sure, that sounds like it became dad rock instead of pop rock, but it’s a good thing.
New Balance added a little more stack to the Rebel v3, which makes it a much more reliable choice for daily miles instead of a tempo-only option. We also had issues with the upper on the v2 blowing out the side, but that seems to be a thing of the past. The new mono mesh upper irons over the weak seams, and it still feels light as a feather. You still get plenty of NDURANCE rubber on the outsole, and the big, reflective N on the side is one of the cooler logos of the year.Shop New Balance Rebel v3 – Men Shop New Balance Rebel v3 – Women
• Fresh Foam More v4
Use: Maximum cushion for comfort pushin’ | Drop: 4mm | Price: $150
Before we say anything else about the New Balance More v4, we have to talk about the price. In a world where literally everything has gotten more expensive, the More v4 is actually cheaper than its predecessor. All this foam for a Benjamin and a half, sign us up. Send us two pairs, please. Anyway, the More v4 is still the best version of a Hoka shoe. Meg actually helped to wear-test it, so that’s as much of a vote of confidence as we can offer.
It once again has a soft formulation of Fresh Foam, but you’ll find that it’s not too soft. Think of Goldilocks finding just the right bed to steal from that poor, poor family of bears. New Balance also increased the width of the Fresh Foam More v4 to lend a little more stability. You could probably think of it as the slow and steady cousin to New Balance’s other max cushion trainer, which we’ll get to in a minute.Shop New Balance More v4 – Men Shop New Balance More v4 – Women
• FuelCell SC Trainer
Use: Maximum FuelCell overdrive | Drop: 8mm | Price: $180
If you’ve been following along this summer, you should probably recognize this next pick. The FuelCell SC Trainer is a new silhouette from New Balance and is already one of our favorite shoes of the year. We’ll admit it, we were worried about the weight when the SC Trainer showed up at our doors, but the fear was for naught. New Balance’s light, breathable upper pairs perfectly with the bouncy, rockered midsole for a shoe that just sucks up miles.
The SC Trainer was our first taste of New Balance’s Energy Arc approach, which blends a cambered plate with an open gap through the midsole for a smooth, stable ride. We’ve put so many miles in this shoe while training for the NYC marathon that it’s basically become a second skin. How can you not love this green colorway? It’s minty, with just enough hits of blue to break it up. Oh, and be careful when running over pebbles — they can get stuck in the midsole cutout.Shop New Balance SC Trainer – Men Shop New Balance SC Trainer – Women
• FuelCell SC Elite 3
Use: Race day speed | Drop: 4mm | Price: $250
The next installment among our best New Balance running shoes is an option so hot off the presses that we haven’t even reviewed it yet. You could take a shot every time we mention the NYC marathon, but it might kill you. What do the two have in common? Well, New Balance’s FuelCell SC Elite 3 just arrived in a signature colorway for the five boroughs. It’s our shoe of choice come race day, and it offers a plush cushion of FuelCell to keep us cruising (or, in Brandon’s case, racing).
There are a few changes to note with the FuelCell SC Elite 3, but the name comes first. It’s the successor to the RC Elite 2, but New Balance wanted to unify the naming for its Energy Arc shoes. You’ll get the same cambered plate and midsole gap as the SC Trainer offers, but there’s less stack this time around. The SC Elite 3 also chops the drop in half, opting for 4 mm instead of 8. We’ll have a review ready soon, but you can also catch it on our feet come November 6.Shop New Balance SC Elite v3 – Men Shop Endorphin Shift – Men
• Fresh Foam 880v12
Use: Reliable road miles | Drop: 10mm | Price: $130
New Balance likes to make sure that all of its running shoes have siblings, and the Fresh Foam 880v12 is a close relative to both the Fresh Foam Tempo 2 and Fresh Foam 1080v12. It might sound odd to compare them, but the stack height is similar to the Tempo while the cushioning is closer to that of the 1080v12. That also means, though, that the 880v12 seems to get lost in the family tree. Having said that, it’s a solid performer.
We’re always going to pile on the love for some comfortable Fresh Foam X, and the 880 has it in spades. It’s not the lightest shoe in New Balance’s lineup, but it doesn’t have to be. Your wallet will be pleased with the $130 price tag, and the 880v12 should treat you well any time you grab it from your shoe rack.Shop New Balance 880
• Fresh Foam Tempo v2
Use: One shoe to succeed them all | Drop: 6 mm | Price: $120
Here’s a math question for you: If you add the Beacon and the Zante together, what do you get? You might guess that one shoe replaced the other, but you’d be wrong. Instead, you get one of the best low-stack New Balance running shoes of the year — the Fresh Foam Tempo v2. It’s kind of like if you put the 1080v12 on a diet and cut a few mm from the stack but still kept it as one solid slab of Fresh Foam X.
You might still be busy mourning the loss of your Beacon or your Zante, and that’s alright. The Tempo v2 isn’t a perfect swap for either shoe, but it’s a good compromise. It’s softer and more responsive than something like the Saucony Kinvara, and honestly is what we wish the Kinvara was closer to. Just be careful if you have a wide foot — the platform runs a little narrow, even in 2E.Shop Fresh Foam Tempo V2
• Fresh Foam More Trail v2
Use: Max-cushioned trail running | Drop: 4mm | Price: $165
The Fresh Foam More Trail V2 is a wilder update to the Fresh Foam More V4, and they’re not kidding about the cushioning. Melissa got the chance to wear-test a number of pairs, and she could only describe the cushion as dreamy. The Vibram Megagrip outsole is another shining star and a key component to any New Balance trail running shoe worth its salt.
The More Trail V2 isn’t the most affordable trail shoe on the market, but it combines a few of our favorite things. Of course, Fresh Foam is main attraction, but a roomy toe box is quite the treat. It’s probably one of the better road-to-trail shoes out there for all of you padding junkies, and you can rack up the miles pretty easily. New Balance’s Fresh Foam More Trail v2 has a longer shelf life thanks to the beefy padding, so maybe that’s all you need to justify the cost.Shop More Trail v2 – Men Shop More Trail v2 – Women
How we make our picks
We get a lot — and we do mean a lot — of running shoes through the doors here at Believe in the Run, so all of our picks come directly from our own two feet. However, we also consider overall shoe reviews from average users and our own Believe in the Run community, and we only really recommend shoes that you can currently buy. Otherwise, we’d probably tell you to find Sonic the Hedgehog and steal his speedy kicks.