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10 Best NEW BALANCE Hiking Shoes For Exceptional Comfort (Review)

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Hiking shoes and boots are like fine wines – available from many vineyards and described in technical terms that mystify the newcomer. This article explores the wonders of New Balance hiking shoes. I decode the shoe technology terms so you can assess both New Balance hiking shoes and New Balance hiking boots for their quality and performance. 

Hiking shoes need to perform well for their function, endure and give value for money. The best New Balance hiking shoes meet all of these criteria. 

This post may contain affiliate links. That means that I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you buy something through my site. This helps me run my website and produce the articles that I hope you find helpful.

Who is New Balance?

You may not be familiar with New Balance hiking shoes, but New Balance itself has been around since 1906, producing amazing footwear and sports clothing. They are quite a big deal in both the United States and Europe. Plus, unlike their competitors, they like to keep most of their manufacturing and associated jobs in their home markets. 

New Balance started as “New Balance Arch Support Company.” To this day, New Balance concentrates on the early adoption of technology that gives your feet an easier time with the critical functions of cushioning, support, and breathability. 

What is the Difference between Trail Runners, Hiking Shoes, and Hiking Boots?

The label of a trail runner, hiking shoe, or hiking boot is not as essential as the technology and features included in the footwear design and construction. If you are looking for a decent hiking shoe, all three types can give you the level of support, comfort, and durability necessary for you to go the distance. 

Trail Running Shoes

A trail running shoe is heavier and more structured than a road running shoe because it needs to cope with challenging terrain. You get better traction from aggressive sole tread and support and durability from the uppers, as well as robust cushioning in the midsole. Trail runners make excellent hiking shoes. 

Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes are a sneaker style form of a hiking boot. They are typically softer and lighter and take less breaking in than a traditional high-top hiking boot. 

Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are for the most challenging and brutal terrains with durable uppers, heavy tread, secure lacing systems, and high-tops that provide support and protection for your ankles. They are heavier than both trail runners and hiking shoes because of the extra material involved. 

You can find excellent New Balance hiking shoes in the trail running ranges, and if you prefer a more traditional hiking boot, you can see that too in the New Balance 1400 hiking boots.

Old and New Versions Of New Balance Hiking Shoes

New Balance hiking shoes give you version numbers, so you know which model includes the latest innovations. For example, New Balance Nitrel v4 is the newest version, but you can still get the older model New Balance Nitrel v3

The latest model uses the next generation of innovative technology for the best New Balance hiking shoe performance. However, the older models are still great New Balance hiking shoes and represent a budget-saving while supplies remain. 

If you put a lot of wear on your New Balance hiking shoes, then you will be replacing them once or twice a year, and the newer models will still be available after you’ve got your money’s worth out of your current pair. 

Other Hiking Shoes

New Balance offers an amazing range of hiking shoes and boots. However, if you are interested in exploring other manufacturer’s products, I’d recommend 13 Best Adidas Hiking Shoes For Ultimate Comfort (Review) and 11 Most Rugged And Best TIMBERLAND Hiking Boots (Review).

How These Reviews are Organized

Part 1

The best New Balance hiking shoes are available in both men’s and women’s sizes, with different color options. Whether New Balance describes their footwear as a trail runner, hiking shoe, or hiking boot, you will find it here if it functions as an excellent hiking shoe.

These reviews outline the New Balance hiking shoe technology featured in the model, together with an indication of other useful features. This way, you can quickly identify the best New Balance hiking shoes or the best New Balance hiking boots that fit your needs with a clear assessment of performance and support. 

Part 2

In Part 2 of this article, I provide a detailed Buyer’s Guide for New Balance hiking shoes and boots. In this section, I describe the specific technology offered by New Balance in their hiking shoes so that you can better understand what is being offered in a particular shoe or boot. Whether you end up purchasing a New Balance hiking shoe or another manufacturer’s product, it is always good to understand the best features that are available on the market.

Best New Balance Hiking Shoes

New Balance Nitrel v4

Men’s Hiking Shoes


Women’s Hiking Shoes


New Balance Hiking Shoe Technology

  • AT tread outsole
  • Engineered mesh upper
  • Dynasoft cushioning.

Other Features

  • Heel and toe rocker – encourage fast natural gait with less energy expended.
  • Protective coating in the toe area – abrasion and water-resistant.
  • No-sew overlays which increase durability and support in the upper.
  • Available in narrow to extra-wide fittings.
  • Excellent range of color options.
  • Neutral arch support.
  • Affordable.
  • Tackles rugged trails with superior traction and grip. 
  • Lightweight and energy-returning foam to reduce fatigue.
  • 8mm heel to toe drop

Conclusion

The New Balance Nitrel v4 gives you everything you need in an excellent hiking shoe. The maximum heel drop for comfort in a hiking shoe is 10mm, and this New Balance hiking shoe gives a comfortable heel drop of 8mm along with energy-returning soft and supportive Dynasoft foam in the midsole.  The engineered mesh upper with abrasion-resistant overlays lets your feet breathe while you are walking – the airflow and ventilation are excellent. 

The shoe is lightweight, comfortable to wear, and gives enhanced traction on slopes and challenging terrain. The AT Tread outsole is durable and resistant to abrasion. The protective coating on the toe provides added protection against abrasion and toe-stubbing while walking. 

New Balance Shando

Men’s Hiking Shoe


Women’s Hiking Shoes


New Balance Hiking Shoe Technology

  • Translucent Mono Mesh Upper.
  • Dynasoft midsole.
  • AT Tread outsole.

Other Features

  • Heel and toe rocker for energy-saving walking. 
  • Protective coating over the toe.
  • An easy pull-on loop on the heel.
  • Heel drop between 5 and 8mm.
  • Nontraditional lacing system for increased comfort. 
  • Available in wide and half sizes.

Conclusion

Shando is one of the more recent offerings in New Balance hiking shoes. The nontraditional lacing system aims to reduce pressure on the top of your foot and give a more comfortable fit from this shoe. The low heel drop and the heel and toe rocker work together to provide you with an option to walk fast (or go on a trail run) and require less energy when walking.

The New Balance trademark Dynasoft midsole provides cushioning, support, and returns rebound energy with every step while the mono-mesh upper gives superior ventilation and breathability. It is stylish, comes in multiple colors and is one of the best New Balance hiking shoes.

New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail

Men’s Hiking Shoe


Women’s Hiking Shoe


New Balance Hiking Shoe Technology

  • Synthetic mesh upper treated for water resistance.
  • Fresh foam midsole cushioning.
  • AT tread rubber outsole.

Other Features

  • Heel and toe rocker.
  • Thickest layer of cushioning in a New Balance hiking shoe.
  • Heel pocket for balance and stability.
  • Flat lacing system for comfort.
  • Bright color options.
  • Available in wide and extra-wide fittings.

Conclusion

The New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail hiking shoe provides the most cushioning of any New Balance hiking shoe. This cushioning depth protects your feet from the impact of rocks and hard surfaces, giving you a soft ride through any terrain. 

The flat lacing system means the laces lie flat against the top of your feet, reducing the sensation of pressure or digging in. The mesh upper allows your feet to breathe, and it is treated with a water-resistant coating to improve dryness in wet conditions.

You get some stunningly bright colors and plenty of width options to fit all feet sizes. For all this, the New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail hiking shoe is one of the best New Balance hiking shoes.

New Balance 1300

Men’s Hiking Shoe


Women’s Hiking Shoe


New Balance Hiking Shoe Technology

  • ROLLBAR stability technology
  • Rubber tread outsole.
  • EVA midsole.

Other Features

  • Leather upper with a waterproof membrane.
  • Flat, stable heel and a toe rocker.
  • Gusseted tongue – keeps debris out of the shoe and improves waterproofing.
  • Toe bumper.
  • Reinforced heel cup.
  • Robust metal hardware for the lacing system.

Conclusion

The New Balance 1300 hiking shoe is designed on traditional lines with a 100% leather upper and waterproof membrane. Leather is a durable, supportive material that is easy to maintain and looks good for a long time. 

The ROLLBAR technology and the flat heel mean that you get the support needed to promote a natural foot movement if you tend to roll in toward your big toe or out towards your little toe while walking. This small feature supports your whole body while hiking because it stops pressure on your knees, hips, and lower back caused by the repetitive impact of overpronation or underpronation. 

ROLLBAR and stability features also benefit neutral walkers because they reinforce and support your natural gait making long-distance walking less fatiguing. Everyone can benefit from the New Balance 1300 hiking shoes making them one of the best New Balance hiking shoes available.

New Balance 1350

Men’s Hiking Shoe


Women’s Hiking Shoe


New Balance Hiking Shoe Technology

  • Fresh foam midsole contoured for appropriate support.
  • Synthetic mesh upper for breathability with a waterproof membrane.

Other Features

  • Traditional lacing system.
  • Rubber outsole with raised lugs.
  • Flat heel and a toe rocker.
  • Abrasion-resistant synthetic overlays at toe and heel.
  • Available in wide and extra-wide fittings.
  • Snug ankle fit with a padded collar to stop debris from entering.
  • Roomy toe box.

Conclusion

Although the New Balance 1350 hiking shoe does not have the ROLLBAR technology, it has a flat heel, another useful stability feature. The traditional lacing system, the snug-fitting ankle collar to resist debris, and the roomy toe box all give you a comfortable New Balance hiking shoe. In addition, the synthetic mesh upper and waterproof membrane gives you the ideal combination of waterproofing and breathability to keep your feet fresh and dry on your hikes. 

New Balance 669v2

Men’s Hiking Shoe


Women’s Hiking Shoe


New Balance Hiking Shoe Technology

  • AT Tread outsole
  • ABZORB midsoles.
  • PU Foam insert.
  • Suede and mesh upper for breathability.

Other Features

  • Progressive nontraditional lacing for a better fit.
  • Choice of colors.
  • Available in wide and extra-wide fittings.
  • Flat heel with a toe-rocker.
  • Tread includes a vertical tread strip to improve stability and weight distribution in roll through from heel to toe. 
  • An easy pull-on loop on the heel. 
  • Rubber tread extends and protects abrasion to toe.

Conclusion

The ABZORB cushioning of the New Balance 669v2 absorbs impact energy immediately, protecting you from the backlash caused by your foot hitting the ground. This extra-support for your heels is a fatigue-busting addition to one of the best New Balance hiking shoes. 

The flat heel gives enhanced stability, and the PU foam insert and guideline tread are similar to the ROLLBAR technology found in other New Balance hiking shoes. It provides the same functions of preventing twisting in the midfoot and encouraging a smooth transfer of weight from the heel to the toe.

The suede and mesh upper provide breathability, support, and subtle style in many colors and fittings.  

New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5

Men’s Hiking Shoe


Women’s Hiking Shoe


New Balance Hiking Shoe Technology

  • Fresh foam cushioning in the midsole.
  • Vibram outsoles for superior grip in all conditions and directions.

Other Features

  • Shroud constructions (one-piece uppers) keeps debris out of your shoes.
  • Waterproof TPU coating to keep your feet dry. 
  • Bootie construction and flat laces for a snug fit. 
  • 8mm heel drop. 
  • Toe protection layer for abrasion. 
  • Supportive heel cup.

Conclusion

The Vibram outsole is trademarked technology for its superior grip and multidirectional traction. If your hikes take you across wet and slippery rocks, a Vibram outsole is a definite asset. The fresh foam cushioning in the midsole is strategically engineered to give you the best support where you need it and gives you a bounce in your step. 

The construction techniques keep debris out of your shoe and mean you can adjust the fit to your foot. Flat laces are fabulous for comfort, and the waterproof TPU coating is a plus when you hike in less than ideal weather. 

New Balance Fresh Foam Crag v2

Men’s Hiking Shoe


Women’s Hiking Shoe


New Balance Hiking Shoe Technology

  • AT Tread outsole.
  • Fresh foam midsole.
  • ABZORB cushioning in the heel.
  • Mono mesh and webbing.

Other Features

  • Available in wide fittings.
  • Brightly colored. 
  • Secure lacing system.
  • Bootie construction gives a snug fit. 
  • 8mm heel drop.

Conclusion

The New Balance Fresh Foam Crag v2 hiking shoe has all of the New Balance hiking technology except for the ROLLBAR. It has enhanced traction with the New Balance trademark AT Tread outsole. The Fresh foam and ABZORB cushioning work together to provide the best impact protection and energy return for your feet. Plus, you get all the benefits of a snug fit and eye-catching design using breathable mono mesh and abrasion-resistant webbing. 

New Balance Hiking Boots

New Balance 1400

Men’s Hiking Shoe


Women’s Hiking Shoe


New Balance Hiking Shoe Technology

  • ROLLBAR technology for heel stability.
  • Leather upper with waterproof membrane.
  • Molded EVA midsole.

Other Features

  • Gusseted tongue keeps debris out of the boot.
  • Traditional hiking boot design provides ankle support.
  • Available in narrow, wide, and extra-wide fittings.
  • Guideline tread pattern with roll bar inserts encourages natural gait. 
  • Traditional lacing and padded collar for comfortable fitting.
  • Waterproofing features include sealed seams, non-wicking laces, and waterproof inner bootie construction.
  • Toe bumper and reinforced heel cup. 

Conclusion

The New Balance 1400 hiking boot combines the best New Balance hiking shoe technology with the best of a traditional hiking boot design.

You get easy maintenance good looking leather boot with a padded collar, gusseted tongue, and traditional lacing. Plus, you get ROLLBAR stability features, flexible guidelines on the sole, excellent waterproofing, and reinforcing where you need it on the toe and heel. 

If you like to walk the most challenging trails, these New Balance hiking boots won’t let you down. 

New Balance 978

Men’s Hiking Shoe


New Balance Hiking Shoe Technology

  • ROLLBAR stability technology.
  • ABZORB midsole cushioning.
  • Gore-Tex waterproof membrane in the leather upper.

Other Features

  • Durable rubber sole with tread pattern for grip on trails and roads.
  • 3/4 Rock Stop plate for added protection against roots and rocks
  • Padded collar – dual-density foam.
  • Deep toe box and wide forefoot for extra comfort. 
  • Pull tab on the heel.
  • Traditional lacing system with metal hardware.

Conclusion

Gore-Tex is the trailblazer for waterproof membrane technology, which when combined with this durable leather upper, gives you the robust New Balance 978 hiking boot. All of its details enhance your walking comfort, from the ROLLBAR technology giving you a stable walking shoe to the padded collar with dual-density foam and the use of impact-absorbing ABZORB isoprene rubber in the midsole.

The deep toe box and the extra width in the forefoot give your toes plenty of wriggle room for when you are tackling difficult terrain and the lining ensures that your feet breathe keeping them fresh and dry. New Balance 978 is an excellent hiking boot and one of the best New Balance hiking boots. 

Buyer’s Guide To The Best New Balance Hiking Shoes

Footwear technology makes a big difference in coping with problems like fallen arches and balance issues. In addition, it supports performance by reducing energy backlash, protecting your feet from damage, providing stability, and promoting a natural, fluid gait. 

You can walk further, for longer, and cover more challenging terrain if your feet are supported and cushioned, benefiting from the best shoe technology. All quality hiking shoe manufacturers cover the same areas. They focus on protection and support for your feet. However, their technology differs depending on their research and supply channels.

Are New Balance Hiking Shoes Waterproof?

History

Old style hiking shoes kept water from rain and streams on the outside of your feet using leather and waterproofing creams and sprays, or waterproof materials. The water stayed out, and your feet stayed dry. This approach kept external water out but ignored the build-up of moisture inside the boot from hot, sweaty feet.

Wet feet are a problem. They slip inside boots resulting in blisters and damage to your feet, and, quite frankly, smell horrible. This odor can soak into the lining of your boots. Plus, hot, sweaty feet are prone to fungal infections as well as physical damage. 

The alternative to these kinds of waterproof boots was textile boots with good ventilation that let your feet breathe. But these allowed in rain and water from puddles thus making your wet feet again. The aim was to have drainage that let your feet dry quickly, but these are not the sort of boots that you want in damp or winter conditions. 

Gore-Tex and Other Waterproof Membranes

The gamechanger for the best New Balance hiking shoes and other manufacturers was including waterproof membranes like the market leader Gore-Tex. A waterproof membrane as a liner in your upper allows water molecules to pass in one direction. This property means external water from rain and puddles stays on one side of the upper, and internal moisture from hot feet can pass out of the boot. Finally, you have the ideal waterproof boots that let your feet breathe. 

Most New Balance hiking shoes use a waterproof membrane for that ideal combination of waterproofing and breathability. For example, New Balance 978 uses Gore-Tex and are waterproof New Balance hiking boots.

Only New balance hiking shoes with a waterproof tag are fully waterproof. The rest are water-resistant. New Balance hiking shoes that are water-resistant will keep your feet dry in most conditions, but not always. There are some challenging terrains or weather conditions where you will need to be confident that you are wearing waterproof boots, such as if you will be spending the day hiking in a downpour or through small streams. 

Traction and Grip on the Best New Balance Hiking Shoes

The outsole of your New Balance hiking shoes is where the rubber meets the trail. The tread design gives you grip on various surfaces, and the rubber can provide additional features like stickiness (for grip on slippery surfaces) and abrasion resistance for enhanced durability.

You will find three kinds of soles on the best New Balance hiking shoes.

New Balance Vibram soles are the gold standard for excellent grip and traction, and you can find them on New Balance Fresh Foam Hiero v5.

Other New Balance hiking shoes use an ‘AT TREAD’ rubber outsole for superior grip and traction when trail running or walking. New Balance describes their AT Tread outsoles as dual-use – the lugs on the sole mix up road and trail running shapes to give you the best grip on road and trail surfaces. In addition, the heel area has flexible grooves, and the forefoot has deep lugs or studs. 

Lastly, some New Balance hiking shoes use a high-quality standard rubber outsole with appropriate tread for traction. 

Midsole and Underfoot Cushioning on New Balance Hiking Shoes

Most modern hiking shoes and boots use foam or gel as cushioning and support for your foot’s arches and pressure points. A soft, bouncy surface is more pleasant for walking because it reduces the backlash from your foot’s impact to the ground. If you have less backlash energy, then you have reduced foot and leg fatigue because your body has less to combat while you are walking – your muscle energy goes into your stride rather than dealing with the stress of foot impact.

Dynasoft

You find a Dynasoft midsole in the New Balance trail running shoes Shando and Nitrel v4. This lightweight foam absorbs all the impact (immediately)  – protecting the sole of your foot and giving you rebound energy. That extra bounce can give you the power for an extra mile or two on your hike. 

Fresh Foam

Fresh Foam is a cushioning innovation from 2013. New Balance tweaked their EVA compound to produce a springy but stable foam injection, molded in a heat press, to create the midsole. This stage of the process increases the lightness and springiness. Laser-cutting creates custom zones in the midsole to provide targeted support to the different areas of your foot. You find Fresh Foam in these shoes: New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail (thickest cushioning), New Balance 1350, New Balance Hierro V5, and New Balance Crag V2.

ABZORB

ABZORB is an innovative isoprene rubber created in partnership with DuPont. You find it in the heel and forefoot. The uniform cell size, shape, and cell wall thickness give a more durable shock-absorbing material than EVA. The durable nature means it protects your heels for a longer amount of time before you need to change your New Balance hiking shoes. You find ABZORB in the New Balance 669v2 and the New Balance 978.

Support: ROLLBAR Technology

This posting system reduces rear-foot movement – a helpful feature for supporting overpronators (low arches where the foot rolls inwards when you walk), and supinators or under pronators (high arches where the foot rolls outwards when you walk). The molded plate under the heel prevents the foot from rolling inwards or outwards. It is connected to the postings on the outside and inside of the shoe’s edge. 

In this context, a post is a device or structure that is firmer than the surrounding EVA which is usually thermoplastic urethane (TPU) or carbon fiber. It provides a better level of support for your heel (or arch) and promotes a natural gait controlling excessive inward rolling (overpronation) or outward (supination). 

You find ROLLBAR technology in New Balance 978 and New Balance 1300. In New Balance hiking shoes with ROLLbar stabilizing technology, you find a tread line running from the heel to the toe and a guideline section. This feature promotes the proper gait while walking – a roll from the heel through the ball of the foot until you push-off with your toes.

Upper Design Of The Best New Balance Hiking Shoes

The translucent mono mesh in the New Balance Shando upper gives lightweight support that lets your feet breathe and remain cool. In addition, you get increased durability with abrasion-resistant webbing applied to high wear areas for extra durability.

A leather upper with a waterproof membrane is durable, comfortable, and easy to maintain to a high standard. The New Balance 1300, New Balance 1400 hiking boot, and New Balance 978 all have leather uppers. 

Combinations of synthetic textiles and mesh give water resistance, breathability, and a range of color combinations in New Balance hiking shoes like New Balance Crag v2 and New Balance Hierro v5.

Last Word

Whether you are looking for a pair of hiking shoes that takes you on a gentle hike or a pair that sees you through an exhilarating climb to the top of a mountain, New Balance offers you many amazing hiking shoe and boot options that will keep your feet comfortable, supported and ready for your day’s adventure.

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