New Balance has put out great, lightweight trail shoes for a long time. But it’s also found a lot of crossover cred to some of its performance-oriented shoes in recent years, too. This new model is a legit moderately cushioned trail shoe, but it also gained some buzz for its lifestyle appeal too, thanks to its one-piece gum-rubber outsole and sleek two-layer upper. It’s perhaps best understood as a close cousin of the New Balance Fresh Foam Zante 2 road shoe with a little bit more traction from a low-profile knobby outsole tread. While it can suffice for semi-technical singletrack trails, it’s most at home running smooth dirt trails, gravel roads and those types of runs that have a bit of trail and roads. Like the Zante 2, it has a snug, performance-oriented fit and a cushioning profile that feels low to the ground but in reality has a sensible amount of foam underfoot. It’s equally fast and light and can run at just about any speed. But given the snug fit and modest cushioning, its sweet spot is running mild to moderate terrain for an hour or less. And there’s no denying that it looks cool and passes the “looks good with jeans” test. Plus, you can’t beat the price—it’s under a hundred bucks! For all those reasons, we gave it our Best Value award in the 2016 Fall Trail Running Shoe Buyer’s Guide in the October issue of Competitor.
This is the shoe for you if … You’re looking for a versatile shoe that’s good for all kinds of running and fun to wear around casually.
Weights: 8.7 oz. (men’s), 7.2 oz. (women’s)
Heel-Toe Offset: 6mm; 24mm (heel), 18mm (forefoot)