The Rundown

Our review: Burly and bold, the revamped New Balance Hierro v5 offers a plush, protective ride that’s surprisingly nimble for long days on technical trails and variable terrain.

Surface
Trail
Pronation
Neutral
Stack Height
High

A mash-up of a low-top hiking boot and a lightweight cushioned trail shoe, the New Balance Hierro v5 is designed to tackle long days and technical trails. True to form, it held up on miles of trails in wide-ranging conditions.

Compared to v4, New Balance revamped several significant details, resulting in a beefier, more rugged design—yet with minimal weight changes. The upper overhaul, designed to be more breathable and secure, creates a completely new look and feel from the high-collared booty and gaiter-like wrap of the v4. The outsole is more pronounced on this version, and the footprint is, quite literally, bigger.

New Balance Hierro v5
Photo: Elizabeth Carey

The Specs

Weight
9.3 oz (women) / 11.3 oz (men)
Offset
8 mm
Stack Height
34 mm heel / 26 mm forefoot
Midsole
Fresh Foam
Outsole
Vibram Mega Grip
Upper
TPU-coated synthetic textile with rubber toe bumper
Price
$135

100 Miles In: The Review

The Hierro v5 means business. Especially if your business is running trails and/or commanding attention. It’s bold in both style and specs. In fact, I was so thoroughly enjoying tromping around the city in them, I was unusually hard-pressed to take this pair for its first spin on messy off-road surfaces. The mountain-ready features and colorful aesthetic feel very Pacific Northwest-y (and as such, is acceptable, or at least tolerated, in Seattle).

A burrito-wrap tongue and plush foam contribute to a remarkably comfortable step-in feel right out of the box. The thick upper fits close to foot with an asymmetrical sleeve, wide patterned laces add character, and a high heel collar reaches above where most running shoes end. A larger-than-normal pull-on loop facilitates getting the Hierro v5 on; and also larger-than-most lace tabs allow for syncing the upper tight across the foot. My initial impression held up out on the trails: the Hierro v5 looks and feels like a hybrid of your average trail runner and a low-top hiking boot.

Overall, the design fit my keyhole-shaped foot (narrow heel, wide toes) spot-on, and ran true to the size I generally wear in running shoes. In both width and volume, it feels average from heel to toe—there’s ample space for toe spread and wiggle, without gaping, rubbing, or sloppiness.

Things get even more interesting underfoot. A thick slab of New Balance’s signature Fresh Foam feels like memory foam in that it conforms to the contour of your foot, without sacrificing a springy ride. The high volume of cushion provided considerable protection on technical trails. The flexible rubber toe bumper added to this protection. The Hierro v5 kept my feet safe from sharp rocks, treacherous roots, and all sorts of debris on less-maintained singletrack.

Melded to the cush is an aggressive outsole composed of Vibram Mega Grip, a sticky rubber compound. The multidirectional lugs proved grippy in a range of conditions on a plethora of surfaces, from steep hills with mud and roots to pancake-flat pea gravel. Most curiously, the outsole has a tail that extends beyond the heel. This thin bumper—combined with a wide, stable base—provided a copious crash pad, in particular when running downhill. I felt almost invincible mashing miles of variable surfaces.

Whether on soft slop, slick mud, or sticky snow, the Hierro v5 performed with minimal slips. It even weathered knee-deep mud puddles during multiple deluges this winter, and stayed comfy for a five-plus-hour trail run. The materials held up over the long-haul, too, with a small tear in the upper being the only visible sign of wear (besides caked-on muck)—after 100 miles.

New Balance Hierro v5
Photo: Elizabeth Carey

There’s the Rub

The Hierro v5’s protective, beefy ride brings with it lots of material, including a long, tall and thick tongue. The thick upper was moderately breathable, but runs hot when dry and is slow to dry when wet.

Although designed with the aim of protecting feet from dirt, the upper traps both moisture and soil (the latter of which shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for the serious trail runner who, let’s be honest, embraces dirt).

The lace-up system is harder than most to maneuver; so dialing in a fit, especially once the pair got muddy, wasn’t as seamless as I’d hoped.

If you trail run for quiet and solitude, avoid trail buddies or crowded trailheads when wearing the Hierro v5. You will get questions about this shoe, especially the outsole tail. (Unless, perhaps, you’re standing next to someone in the HOKA ONE ONE TenNine.)

TL;DR

The New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v5 is a beefy but surprisingly light trail shoe designed for comfort and protection for long-hauls on aggressive trails. It is available in specialty running stores and online now, priced at $135.

Elizabeth Carey is a freelance writer and running coach based in Seattle, Washington.