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Trail Running Shoes • May 8, 2024

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v8 Review: I Need a Hierro

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What You Need To Know


11.2 oz. (318 g) for a US M9,

8.9 oz. (252 g) for a US W8

Stack Height / Drop

38 mm in heel, 32 mm in forefoot (6 mm drop)

Best For

Road-to-trail runs with tons of cushioning

Key Features

Fresh Foam X midsole, Vibram Eco Step outsole, Toe Protect

On The Run
We're floatin' on Fresh Foam Vibram's got the Micro-Goods These laces are so, so long
Price / Availability

Available now for $149

Introduction to the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v8

ALLISON: As a runner who’s clocked countless miles on the trails, slipping into the Hierro v8 for the first time felt like a departure from the norm. New Balance’s venture into trail footwear intrigued me, especially with the promise of its renowned Fresh Foam technology combined with the rugged Vibram outsole. Living amidst the challenging trails of Georgia, I was eager to put the latest Hierro to the test.

SAM: The early 2000s were flush with serialized TV that commanded appointment viewing. Shows like Lost were phenoms that it seemed like everyone watched (except for me, somehow, with Lost), and networks took note, pushing out their own “mystery box” science fiction dramas to try to grasp a little of that success. One of those was Heroes, a superhero action drama that aired on NBC in 2006 before superheroes, in general, conquered our media ecosystems. Batman Begins had only come out the year before, and 2008’s Ironman and the rest of the behemoth that became the MCU were years away.

Heroes went the way of most of those mystery box series. That is, it was a riveting hit for the first season or so while the questions remained unanswered and then fell off sharply as plotlines spidered out and answers (when they came) were unsatisfying. “Save the Cheerleader, Save the World” was a rallying call for fans until the world was saved. Too many times, saving the world and it becomes rote. Just look at the fatigue most of us feel with the MCU. Even if most of those same great actors and writers and directors were still there, they didn’t come together in a way that delivered.

Because this was the early 2000s and we loved our irony with a healthy dose of sincerity, there was a primary character on the show named “Hiro.” Because my brain eternally loops through the books, movies, and TV I consume, when I first saw the name of the New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v8, I mentally dragged myself right back through the high highs and low lows of Heroes. In the end, it ended up being a pretty apt comparison for this shoe.

MELISSA: New Balance is a brand that is well-known on the roads but a bit underrated and underrepresented on the trails. Fresh Foam X More Trail was the first New Balance trail shoe that I tried and one that I ended up really enjoying, so I really looked forward to trying Hierro 8.

My first impression of Hierro 8 was that it looked like a New Balance road shoe with a higher stack and a layer of Vibram attached — a trail shoe disguised as a roadie. But does it feel like a trail shoe? Let’s find out.

What we like about the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v8

ALLISON: Exploring New Balance’s trail shoe line was a pleasant surprise. The Hierro’s road shoe-like feel was a breath of fresh air, with its non-gusset plush tongue and spacious toe box providing both comfort and grip. The absence of a gusseted tongue made slipping the shoe on effortless, a welcome departure from the struggle often associated with other designs. Additionally, the ample toe box room is crucial for stability and preventing toe cramps on challenging terrain.

SAM: The New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v8 is made to be a shoe for comfort on trails, and more specifically, New Balance made this shoe to showcase its best running technology within the trail space. As such, we’re treated with some really nice ingredients in the makeup.

For one, the engineered mesh upper is very breathable and has all the comfort you need. There is a plush tongue and a stiff, heavy-duty toe guard that wraps the whole of the toebox. When I say “heavy-duty,” I mean this thing is like armor plating around your foot digits. It’s beefy and extra protective.

Below that upper is a big squishy slab or Fresh Foam X. I don’t know if I’ve ever had anything more comfortable underfoot than Fresh Foam, and the Hierro v8 is no exception. It’s soft and feels like it molds to your foot while you run. Despite the comfort, there’s a little rebound hidden in there. The New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v8 is a smooth and easy feeling shoe, and fans of the Fresh Foam series will notice a lot of familiarity between this and other shoes in the line.

For grip, we’re offered the  Vibram Ecostep with Vibram’s own Micro-Traction Lugs. This is the first time I can recall that I’ve run in a shoe that has not only Vibram, but a lug pattern designed by Vibram as well. Here, it pays off. It’s absurdly grippy and adds to the smooth feeling of the midsole.

MELISSA: I really love how Hierro 8 looks, but that’s no surprise, given that I’m a big fan of New Balance road shoes. The upper is a really breathable mesh material that’s nicely cushioned in all the right places.

The midsole is what really takes the cake. It’s made of Fresh Foam X, which is super squishy and designed for ultimate cushioning and comfort. Not a single rock was felt during my adventures in this shoe. The outsole is lined with Vibram Ecostep and Micro-Traction lugs intended to give you traction and confidence on the trails.

Overall, Hierro 8 felt nice and comfortable and performed well on the less technical stuff. It really shines in a hybrid setting where you’re running a combination of road and trail, or perhaps a good amount of fire or Jeep road.

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What we don’t like about the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v8

ALLISON: While the Hierro initially charmed me with its familiar road shoe feel, I found its firmness less accommodating as my run progressed. For longer trail excursions, I prefer a softer, more cushioned ride akin to the New Balance 1080. Additionally, the overly long laces posed a minor inconvenience, potentially hazardous if they were to come undone on the trail.

SAM: The thing with the New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v8 is this: the laces suck. They are maybe the worst I’ve ever run in — especially in a trail shoe. Thin, very stretchy, and far too long, the laces on this shoe foil all attempts at lockdown and aren’t particularly comfortable. You have to strangle your feet just to keep them in place. If you do get a secure fit, good luck getting them untied if you double knot. I spent too much time picking at tiny, tight knots of lacing, trying to take this shoe off.

I had so many issues with these laces that after a few runs I swapped them in with an extra set of rounded static laces I had from a pair of Hokas. This improved the lockdown slightly, but I still experienced some lateral slippage and some forward slippage. The forward slippage was less than ideal because the toebox on the Hierro v8 is just a little more on the narrow side than I’d like and more so than I’d expect from a New Balance. That burly toe guard is also decently unyielding when your toes smash into it. Fortunately, this is available in both a wide and extra-wide width option.

These lockdown issues are unfortunate because as comfortable as Fresh Foam X is, it’s not a foam that lends itself to much stability. With an upper and laces that refuse to keep your foot in place and a midsole that lets your foot go whichever and whatever way, this shoe has a difficult time managing on anything but the most flat and road-like of trails.

Finally, this thing is heavy. 11.2 oz (318 g) for a Men’s 9 is more than I’d like for a shoe that doesn’t really hit the max cushion benchmarks and forgoes the extra structure in the upper to provide a solid lockdown.

MELISSA: I have to agree with Allison and Sam that these laces are pretty awful. I have to tie them super tight in order to get any semblance of lockdown, and yet they still end up loosening and stretching with miles and time. The upper was a little too snug for me around the forefoot, but I wear D-width New Balance road shoes, so I’d probably order the same with their trail shoes as well.

The Fresh Foam X makes for a super smooth and cushioned ride; however, I felt some pain in my heel during longer runs. Perhaps the drop might be a bit too much for me. It’s something worth noting for those who prefer less drop on their trail shoes.

Finally, let’s talk outsole. I just couldn’t trust these lugs on technical terrain, so unfortunately, I’d save this shoe for hybrid road and trail running or less technical trails.

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Final thoughts on the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v8

ALLISON: Overall, the Hierro impressed me with its blend of comfort and performance. While it may not cater perfectly to longer trail runs or those seeking maximum cushioning, its versatility and reliability make it a solid choice for tackling the diverse landscapes of the trail-running world.

SAM: Sometimes in a shoe — much like in a TV show — all the ingredients are there for success, but the combination falls short. Outside of a really terrible set of laces, the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v8 should be a very comfortable trail shoe equipped with some of the best shoe technology in order to perform when you need it and carry you through daily miles at all other times. It’s priced that way, and that’s the explicit purpose New Balance made the shoe for. Ultimately, this is a shoe that can’t do that quite as well as I would hope, but it can definitely handle some road-to-trail usage — taking you from roads to very light-duty trails. The outsole isn’t exactly suited for that kind of work, but it doesn’t get in the way. Fans of the Saucony Ride 15 TR and Altra Outroad will find some familiar ground here.

MELISSA: I agree with Sam that this would be an ideal hybrid trail/road shoe. It’s also a hybrid option that will give you a nice cushioned ride along the way. If you’re new to trails and want a road-like feel to help you transition to off-road running, this is also a great option for you.

You can pick up the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v8 for $149 at New Balance using the buttons below.

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Have something to say? Leave a Comment

  1. Stanley kobe says:

    This doesn’t use vibram megabase, it uses vibram ecostep.

  2. Ryan Young says:

    Is the fit similar to the Hierro v7?

  3. Steph says:

    I think it’s vibram ecostep, instead of megabase

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Allison Mercer
Allison Mercer
Southeast Reviewer

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Allison is a die-hard sports enthusiast and long distance runner. As co-leader of Trail Sisters and FKT manager, she’s dedicated to fostering community and empowerment in the outdoors.  Fun fact: she met her husband on Strava, proving that it does go down in the DMs.

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Sam Edgin
Mid-Atlantic Trail Reviewer
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  • Strava

Sam lives in Baltimore with his wife and two kids and spends his days fixing espresso machines for Ceremony Coffee Roasters. He runs with the Faster Bastards when he can, races ultras, and has been working on completing the AT section by section. He thinks the best days are made of long miles on nasty trails, but that a good surf session, a really stunning book, or a day of board games are pretty all right too.

All-time favorite shoes: Saucony Xodus Ultra, Topo Athletic Ultraventure 3, Altra Lone Peak

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Melissa Guillen
West Coast Trail Reviewer
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East Coast raised and West Coast trained, Melissa truly enjoys running, especially ultra distances. She currently lives on the Southern California coast and can be found exploring Santa Barbara front country on the weekends.

All-time favorite shoes: HOKA Clifton, Nike Vaporfly NEXT %, Altra Lone Peak

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