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Road • March 10, 2021

Best New Balance Running Shoes Right Now (2021)

best new balance running shoes

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 1080v11

new balance 1080v11 - lateral

Use: Long, comfortable road miles | Drop: 8mm | Price: $150

So many running shoes are all about change, but the New Balance 1080v11 is about staying the course. We didn’t get a new 1080 in 2020, but the v11 picks up right where our 2019 daily trainer of the year left off. If you ask Thomas, he’s ready to recommend the max cush hauler to just about anyone, especially in the blue colorway above.

This shoe packs a thick Fresh Foam X midsole that’s essentially unchanged from the previous version. New Balance did update the Hypoknit upper just a bit, making it look slightly less like an alien undercarriage clamped to your foot. Meaghan, Jarrett and Austin all found potential issues with the “N” overlay and other parts of the upper, but we can’t say enough good things about the cushion.

Shop 1080v11 – Men Shop 1080v11 – Women

• FuelCell Rebel V2

new balance rebel v2 feature

Use: Just about anything | Drop: 6mm | Price: $130 (Seriously!)

Alright, everyone, it’s time to pack it up and head home. If you ask our reviewers, you’re probably not going to find a better New Balance running shoe than the FuelCell Rebel V2. Nick called it his favorite shoe ever, and Thomas is ready to add it to the hall of fame. Just look at it. The yellow colorway is a genuine work of art. Ben even logged nearly 300 miles on the FuelCell Rebel V2 just for his review, and it’s still going strong.

New Balance kicked things off with a brand-new engineered mesh on the Rebel V2, which is both more durable and more breathable than the original. The heel is more padded, and the laces are a far better length this time around. We could go on for days about how much we like the pairing of FuelCell foam with NDURANCE rubber.

You’ll even get an extra 2mm of stack height on the Rebel V2, which really makes a difference. The $130 price tag tops it all off, and we’re expecting this shoe to sell like hotcakes when it drops on 4/15.

Shop Rebel V2 – Men Shop Rebel V2 – Women

• Fresh Foam More v3

new balance fresh foam x more 3

Use: Daily training with plenty of cushion | Drop: 4mm | Price: $165

What do you get when the best HOKA shoe isn’t actually a HOKA? Why, the New Balance Fresh Foam More V3, of course. This shoe takes the classic bottomless cushioning plus rocker formula and cranks it to a new level. All four of our reviewers had plenty of praise for the More V3, and it might be the perfect training partner to the Rebel V2.

Even though it took three tries to get it just right, our reviewers are absolutely convinced that New Balance has finally eclipsed the HOKA Clifton. It’s not the lightest shoe — max cushion trainers rarely are — but it has the build to gobble up hundreds of miles. The More V3 looks right at home in New Balance’s 2021 revolution.

Shop More V3 – Men Shop More V3 – Women

• Fresh Foam Hierro V6

new balance ff hierro v6 - both bronco

Use: Trail runs and casual style | Drop: 8mm | Price: $135

New Balance didn’t just pack all of its design juices into the Rebel V2, it gave the whole damn brand a glow up. The Fresh Foam Hierro V6 is meant for the trails, but you could probably wear it just about anywhere. Throw on a pair of jeans and enjoy the unironic dad drip. There’s also a spicy red colorway if you’re not sold on the blue version above.

Now in its sixth iteration, the Hierro shows that New Balance actually cares about feedback. It keeps the Vibram outsole and packs in the Fresh Foam X, but the new upper changes the game. The Hierro might not be the lightest trail runner, but it’s lost more than an ounce of weight compared to the previous V5. And once you get rolling, you will not be thinking about the weight.

Shop Hierro V6 – Men Shop Hierro V6 – Women

• FuelCell RC Elite 2

Use: Race day speed | Drop: 8mm | Price: $225

New Balance brought the heat with their sequel carbon-plated racer, the FuelCell RC Elite 2. While we enjoyed the original, it left a lot to be desired, particularly underfoot.

NB added 7 mm of FuelCell cushioning in the heel and 9 mm in the forefoot to bring the stack height up to the legal limit of 39 mm. The higher stack means legs take less of a beating, making this shoe a true contender for the carbon throne. While the first RC Elite couldn’t compete at the marathon distance in our eyes, the latest iteration is a much better shoe for the long haul. The carbon plate’s shape is much more aggressive in this one, as well, providing even greater toe-off pop. To top it off, the knit material and padded heel counter combine to create one of the most comfortable uppers of any racer on the market. The RC Elite 2 is an absolute Purple People Eater that’s ready to break your PR.

Shop RC Elite 2 – Men Shop RC Elite 2 – Women

• Fresh Foam 880v11


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 880v11 is a close relative to both the FuelCell Rebel V2 and Fresh Foam 1080v11. It might sound odd to compare them, but the stack height is similar to the Rebel while the cushioning is closer to that of the 1080v11. That also means, though, that the 880v11 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 880v11 should treat you well any time you grab it from your shoe rack.

Shop 880v11 – Men Shop 880v11 – Women

• Fresh Foam Beacon v3

new balance fresh foam beacon 3 - side

Use: Picking up the pace at any distance | Drop: 6 mm | Price: $120

The Rebel V2 may be our pick for the best New Balance shoe of 2021, but the Beacon 3 topped the podium last year. Robbe, Jarrett, Thomas, and Meaghan all loved this shoe, even if it’s the veiniest (is that a word?) New Balance creation ever. Veins aside, the Fresh Foam X midsole is once again the star of this show.

It’s not a perfect daily trainer, as Meaghan and Robbe both took issue with the upper, but it’s still a top-notch option. Both Thomas and Jarrett praised the versatility of the Beacon 3, and Thomas was able to use it as his only shoe for a weeklong vacation.

Shop Beacon v3 – Men Shop Beacon v3 – Women

• Fresh Foam More trail V1

new balance more trail - ROCK ig

Use: Max-cushioned trail running | Drop: 4mm | Price: $165

The Fresh Foam More Trail V1 is a wilder version of the Fresh Foam More V3, and they’re not kidding about the cushioning. Taylor, Courtney and Matt all agreed that it was a worthy addition to the trail family, and it’s just another example of how New Balance is cranking up the style this year.

The More Trail V1 isn’t the most affordable trail shoe on the market, but it combines a few of our favorite things. Of course, Fresh Foam is the star of the show, 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 V1’s have a longer shelf life thanks to the beefy padding, so maybe that’s all you need to justify the cost.

Shop More Trail – Men Shop More Trail – 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.


Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Ryan says:

    Is there a better easy day/long hauler than the More 3 right now?

  2. Lukas says:

    Is the Rebel 2 the best use case for speedy days?

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