My obsession with New Balance started quite early on. My dad owned approximately 45 pairs of the brand’s iconic gray 990 sneakers. Seeing them constantly scattered all over our basement inevitably led to me asking for a pair of my own in middle school. And thus, an obsession was born. Over the next fifteen years I proceeded to test out tons of different running kicks before moving into the realm of lifestyle sneakers, all in the pursuit of finding the best New Balance shoes of all time. And let me tell ya, there’s a lot to choose from.
The 10 Best New Balance Shoes for Running, Walking, Training and Strutting ‘Round Town
Comfort and style, all in one
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The Best New Balance Shoes at a Glance
- Best Everyday Sneaker: New Balance 574 ($90)
- Trendiest Silhouette: New Balance 327 ($100)
- Most Iconic: New Balance 990 ($185)
- Best for All Kinds of Runners: New Balance Fresh Foam X 880 ($140)
- Best for Long Distance Runs: New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 ($160)
- Best for Trail Running: New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro ($140)
- Best for Gym Sessions: New Balance WX608 ($75)
- Best Platform: New Balance CT302 ($90)
- Best All-White Option: New Balance 550 ($110)
- Most Cushioning: New Balance Fresh Foam X More ($150)
Why Is New Balance Suddenly So Popular?
New Balance has been around for more than a century, with plenty of ups and downs during that time. But most recently it was the very dad shoe which I knew so well that launched the brand back up to must-have status. The rise of normcore, mom jeans and dad fashion brought with it a return to comfort and practicality over more fashion-forward pieces. And leading that charge was the 1982 darling, New Balance’s gray 990 shoe. I can attest, starting sometime around fall 2018 this sneaker starting popping up everywhere I looked, most notably on the feet of fashion editors and influencers during fashion week—a stark departure from the usual sea of statement heels. Since then, more and more fashion-minded folks have been adopting the sneaker brand as their go-to, with the 574 and 327 styles actually unseating the 990 as the top picks for 2023. (On a recent walk from my apartment to UPS, a 15 block trek, I spotted no fewer than seven pairs of New Balance sneakers on the feet of stylish Upper West Siders.)
Beyond their vintage appeal, New Balance sneakers are incredibly comfortable and put a huge emphasis on support, even for the most fashion-forward lifestyle sneakers. And while they’re certainly not the most affordable sneaker brand out there, they are notably well made and durable, lasting for a very long time. New Balance also offers a wider size range (and multiple width options) for most of its sneakers than competitors like Nike or Adidas. All in all, I’d say they’re a solid investment for anyone looking for shoes that will look as good as they feel, without falling apart in a few months’ time.
What to Look for When Choosing a New Balance Shoe
The very first thing you need to pin down is what you’re planning to do in your New Balance shoes. New Balance makes specific styles for lots of different activities (including soccer, golf, basketball, softball and more), so before you go scrolling through the entire collection, ask yourself: Are these shoes for running? Walking? To inspire envy in your most fashionable friends? You can sort by activity to help narrow your options and make things easier.
Next consider your shoe size. I find that New Balance runs about a half size small, especially for running shoes, so usually go up from a 10 to a 10.5 to ensure a roomy and comfortable fit. That said Katherine Gillen, Purewow’s senior food editor, said she usually orders true to size for NB’s lifestyle sneakers. “For my very first pair of NBs, a long time ago, I remember I did go up half a size, but then ended up wishing I hadn't. I think nowadays they’re pretty true to size, at least for the 574s and also a pair of 990s I have!” The New Balance website often advises on size for each style just underneath the “add to cart” button, so be sure to check there if you’re unsure.
Best Everyday Sneaker
- Size Range: US 5 to 12
- What We Like: available in wide widths, under $100, made partially from recycled materials
- What We Don’t Like: New Balance suggests these run a half size small
- Promising Review: “Love these shoes! They were a perfect travel companion for walking 10-plus miles a day in Europe. I did go up a half size based on other reviews and they are a great fit.” – Zappos reviewer
The 574 is currently ranked as the second most popular shoe on the New Balance website (just behind the 327), and a quick scroll through reviews makes it easy to see why. They’re comfortable, come in a huge range of colors and cost less than $100. Purewow’s senior food editor Katherine Gillen lists these as her favorite everyday sneaker, no matter what her calendar has in store. “I love the 574s for everyday wear—they're true to size, come in lots of colors, go with everything and aren't so crazy expensive that I couldn't buy a backup pair. But the real draw for me has been how comfortable they are. There was no break-in period (unheard of for me!), and they're lightweight and super cushy without making my feet hot and sweaty. They're also not too narrow and don't squeeze the balls of my feet in a way that many casual sneakers do. I love them for city walking and travel in particular.”
- Size Range: US 5.5 to 15.5
- What We Like: designed for everyday wear, reportedly fit true to size, distinct outsole shape
- What We Don’t Like: available only in standard width
- Promising Review: “This is my second pair of these sneakers. I love them! So cute and comfortable! I walked all over NYC, Munich, Amsterdam and Paris in these shoes without a blister or any discomfort.” – Nordstrom reviewer
As the number one most-wanted NB design, the 327 has a more fashion-forward silhouette than the 574. It has a distinctly retro vibe—it’s technically a hybrid of three NB sneaker designs from the ‘70s: the 320, 355 and SuperComp—that’s majorly trendy right now, aided by the fact that it comes in a wide range of colors, though unfortunately 327s are currently only available in standard widths. And at just 11.4 ounces, they are very lightweight, so your feet are less likely to feel tired or heavy at the end of a long day of walking. Reviews suggest these run true to size, and while they’re reportedly very comfortable, they don’t have as much cushion as the Fresh Foam line, so anyone looking for a super supportive shoe may want to opt for one of those.
- Size Range: US 5 to 17.5
- What We Like: made in the U.S., super comfortable, timeless design
- What We Don’t Like: high price point
- Promising Review: “I feel like it’s a perfect mix between some really soft cushion and some very stable, firm cushioning. It’s right in the middle, making it a really great everyday shoe and one of New Balance’s best midsoles yet.” - Seth Fowler, YouTube sneaker reviewer
There is very little that Steve Jobs and Kourtney Kardashian have in common, but both have been spotted wearing this iconic New Balance style. So have Kaia Gerber, Timothée Chalamet, Adam Sandler, Emma Roberts and Zoë Kravitz. With such a diverse range of fans, you can feel pretty confident these shoes have a lot of offer. They have a well-earned reputation for being incredibly comfortable, and come with an Ortholite insole and a shock-absorbing ENCAP midsole that will keep you comfortably on your feet for hours at a time. A dual density foam collar offers extra support and stability around the ankle without feeling too restrictive, and the toe box is nice and roomy. While lots of reviewers mention loving these for walking or standing for long periods of time, they are on the heavier side, so may not be great for running anything longer than a 5K.
Best for All Kinds of Runners
- Size Range: US 5 to 13
- What We Like: available in narrow, wide and extra-wide widths, lots of color options, classic training shoe that works for runners of all levels
- What We Don’t Like: not enough cushion for marathon training
- Promising Review: “The 880 v13 fits into a nice space of working for walkers, runners and everything in between. It is best for people wanting a running shoe that can double well as a walking shoe or one for work or other outings on your feet.” – Nathan Brown, Doctors of Running
The 880 is New Balance’s most popular running shoe, in part because it works for all types of runs and runners. As the name suggests, the 880 is part of NB’s Fresh Foam collection, which features a cushioned insole designed to offer ample cushion while still feeling springy to keep your feet feeling comfortable and ready to run, no matter how far you’re going. They also come in four different widths—narrow, standard, wide and extra wide—to ensure you get the exact right fit you need. I have used these as a basic training shoe to prepare for races of all different lengths—5ks, 10ks, half marathons, full marathons, etc.—and find they work best for half marathon distances or shorter. Longer runs necessitate a higher level of cushion to really keep my feet feeling fresh. As for sizing, I typically find running shoes to be more comfortable if I go up a half size, and this New Balance shoe is no exception.
Best for Long Distance Runs
- Size Range: US 5 to 13
- What We Like: available in narrow, wide and extra-wide widths, lots of color options, great for marathon training, great for runners who prefer more cushioning
- What We Don’t Like: sizing differs from earlier models
- Promising Review: “Fatigued feet everywhere, we implore you to try a pair of New Balance 1080s on for size. It’s arguably one of the most comfortable road trainers available today, with a snug woven upper that conforms to the foot while maintaining breathability. And the foam midsole provides springy cushion without feeling bulky. All in all, a stellar road companion for the many miles ahead.” – Melanie Mitchell, Women’s Running
If you do plan on covering long distances, or just want something with a bit more cushion, the 1080 is a great alternative to the 880. It has that same Fresh Foam material in the sole, just in a greater quantity to give you more support as you rack up those miles. I used this shoe to train for two different marathons and found it super comfortable and easy to run in—in break-in period required, and no blisters acquired. Of course, you don’t need to be logging long distances to get the benefits of the 1080 sneaker. Runners who want extra cushioning or who prefer a smaller drop are also likely to love this shoe. A note on sizing: While I usually go a half size up in running shoes, reviews suggest the newest version of this sneaker actually runs true to size and has more room in the toe box than previous models.
Best for Trail Running
- Size Range: US 5 to 12
- What We Like: available in wide widths, one percent of each purchase goes to the sustainability organization 1% for the Planet
- What We Don’t Like: no waterproofing or water resistance
- Promising Review: “If you are a runner looking for a crossover shoe that leans more toward trails than the road, you'll feel right at home in the Hierro. While it’s not our go-to for ultra-distances, the Hierro is a great shoe for middle-distance trail jaunts or meandering trail excursions.” – Ally Arcuri, Outdoor Gear Lab
Trail running requires more grip on the outsole than your typical running shoe in order to keep you upright as you land on sticks, leaves, grass, dirt and rocks along the way. The Hierro is specifically designed to cover all kinds of terrain, with the added bonus of a flexible-yet-durable toe cap to protect your toes from occasional stubs. The tight knit mesh upper is also great at keeping out sand and dust while still feeling pretty breathable. According to reviews, the Hierro runs true to size, but they also come in wide widths if you prefer more wiggle room in the toe box. Just know, this shoe is designed for easy to moderate trails and likely won’t provide enough support or traction for really rugged adventures.
Best for Gym Sessions
- Size Range: US 5 to 12
- What We Like: available in wide widths, cute enough to wear outside the gym, great for lifting, walking and light jogging
- What We Don’t Like: leather upper is less breathable than mesh
- Promising Review: “I have been wearing New Balance for years, started around 1996, based on the recommendation of a podiatrist. I started with 624s and when they stopped making them, I changed to the 608. They give my foot excellent support and have not had planters facetious since I started wearing them.” – Zappos reviewer
If it’s a more general training shoe you’re after, New Balance’s WX608 is by far the most popular option from the brand. It was designed to give you tons of cushioning alongside ample support to keep you balanced as you squat, lift, jump and repeat. One of my favorite design aspects is the ABZORB heel crash pad, which helps reduce compression during hard heel strikes and takes some of the pressure off if you’re doing heavy lifting with your legs. The outsole is also surprisingly flexible, so you can use your foot’s full range of motion. The WX608 reportedly runs true to size, but if you plan to add your own inserts you may want to go up a half size from your usual.
- Size Range: US 5.5 to 15.5
- What We Like: timeless design, adds a little over 1.5 inches to your height, under $100
- What We Don’t Like: unisex sizing can be tricky to figure out
- Promising Review: “I love these shoes. The style is great and the comfort level is high. They're easy to walk in and my feet are very comfortable in these. I walk a lot on the daily and have had no problems. Very easy to break in as well.” – Finish Line reviewer
Both Jenny Jin, beauty director, and Liv Kappler, commerce editor, list these shoes as their favorites from the brand. “At just under 5’2”, I appreciate that these give me a little boost of height without sacrificing comfort,” explains Jin. “In fact, I recently wore them to Disneyland, and even after hours of standing and walking around, my feet didn't hurt at all.” As for Kappler, she agrees these kicks are great for all-day wear. “I love the classic look of them. They're incredibly comfortable and supportive to wear throughout the day. I also like that the platform isn’t too tall so I get a little height without feeling like my feet are heavy.” As an added bonus, the CT302 comes in under $100, though new and popular color options tend to sell out quickly, so if you see something you like you should probably add it to cart ASAP. Because these shoes are unisex, some women found they ran a little on the large size, but Kappler advises ordering your usual size, especially if you plan to wear thicker socks.
Best All-White Option
- Size Range: US 5.5 to 18.5
- What We Like: timeless design, cushy insole
- What We Don’t Like: unisex sizing can be tricky to figure out
- Promising Review: “The New Balance 550’s surge in popularity is definitely justified. It uses good materials, a classic design and a healthy dose of comfort.” – 100Wears reviewer
The New Balance 550 is another super popular everyday shoe, and there are plenty of colorful options to choose from, but it’s the all-white version that really makes my heart sing. The chunkier sole gives these the same cool vintage basketball vibes as Air Force 1s, but are less obviously picked out of a lineup (a good thing for anyone looking to break the mold). In fact, on TikTok videos about the shoe have amassed more than 48 million views and there are multiple styles reselling on StockX and GOAT for far more than their original $110 price point. The leather upper is fairly easy to clean, as is the rubber outsole, so they can continue looking brand new long after they arrive.
- Size Range: US 5 to 13
- What We Like: available in wide and extra wide widths, made partially from recycled materials, reportedly runs true to size
- What We Don’t Like: may not be a good pick for stability runners
- Promising Review: “It’s a little more rigid than your typical ultra-cushioned shoe. So it’s going to give you that cushion to get you through long miles, but also has the structure and rigidity where you’re not going to mess up your stride. Honestly, the main thing that I notice with this is that you don’t notice the shoe…which I think is really good for long runs.” –Fresh Brew Run Club
When they say More, they really mean it. This sneaker has the thickest Fresh Foam sole of any New Balance shoe for an ultra-plush feel. I won’t lie, it took a few steps for me to actually feel comfortably stable the first time I tried these on. But once I hit my stride, and especially while running, they felt great underfoot and I forgot just how much lift they have. (That said, New Balance does not recommend this shoe for runners who need a lot of stability. If you’re not a neutral runner I’d suggest checking out the 860 or Vongo styles instead.) All that cushioning is ideal for logging long training runs or for those who prefer maximum support. “The More v4 is one of the best maximalist shoes that I have tried in the past couple of years,” says Andrea Myers of Doctors of Running. I really dislike shoes that are so soft that I feel like I am running on marshmallows. If I run in a highly cushioned shoe, I want the midsole to have some responsiveness and structure. The More v4 is one of the best examples of the type of maximalist shoe I prefer.”
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