>12/4/13: Shoe Review: The New Balance 860 v4

New this month is the latest edition of New Balance’s moderate stability option, the 860 version 4. While retaining its tried-and-true moderate stability level (offering correction for a moderate amount of over-pronation in the runner’s gait), this update offers several significant changes from previous editions—many of which this reviewer considers to be for the better.

 Perhaps the most noticeable difference, especially to longtime users of the 860, will be the fit. While previous editions tend to run on the narrow side, the v4’s redesigned upper, provides a more spacious fit, making it an excellent option not only for those moderate over-pronators with an average-width foot. It’s also a roomy-yet-secure option for those with a narrow foot and a surprisingly comfortable fit for those with a wider forefoot (IE: this reviewer). 

Given that the two major shoes the 860 v4 is designed to compete with are the Brooks Adrenaline 14 and the Asics GT-2000 v2—both of which tend to fit on the average-to-wider end of the spectrum—the 860 nicely fills in the vacant niche for a more dialed-in fit that still fits a wide range of foot types comfortably.

In terms of function, the most significant technical update is the outer sole, which has been redesigned for greater flexibility, especially on the outside of the foot. This provides a smoother ride without sacrificing the shoe’s ability to correct moderate over-pronation.

One of the historical pratfalls of stability shoes has been a clunky or heavy feel due to the denser/stiffer foam on the inside of the foot that corrects over-pronation. The 860 v4 feels, underfoot, to be remarkably bouncy and responsive—lively, if you will—for such a supportive shoe. This is in contrast to the GT-2000, which has one of the softer underfoot-feels in the support category. The Adrenaline’s feel falls pretty smack-dab in the middle between the firmer, racier 860 v4 and the squishier GT-2000 v2.

            Thanks to a new type of mesh on the upper, the 860 v4 is half an ounce lighter than the v3. That’s not a tremendous jump, but it’s probably enough of a difference to be noticeable to those who have worn previous versions of the 860. At 8.9 ounces for women and 10.9 ounces for men, the trim v4 is well-positioned to take on the aforementioned Big Two in the moderate stability category.

            Retailing for $114.99, the New Balance 860 v4 is truly a new and improved option for runners with moderate over-pronation seeking an average-fitting, average-cushion shoe with a faster, more responsive ride. Of course, the fact that it’s lighter than ever doesn’t hurt its appeal, either.