The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

New Balance 990 Heritage Review

New Balance 990
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Price:  $155 List
Pros:  Supportive, very comfortable for post run, walking, standing or really low milage
Cons:  Heavy, bulky, expensive
Manufacturer:   New Balance
By Jimmy Elam ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 17, 2015
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OVERALL
SCORE
  • Weight - 15% 3
  • Responsiveness - 15% 5
  • Durability - 20% 6
  • Landing comfort - 25% 5
  • Upper comfort - 15% 7
  • Breathability - 10% 5

The Skinny

The New Balance 990 Heritage has been discontinued.

Our first and lasting impression of the New Balance 990 Heritage is that these shoes are great, though not for the serious runner. We think they're great for standing, walking, daily activities, and many things other than running. A small percentage of heavier over-pronating runners and weekend warriors who only log three to four miles at once could enjoy the 990 Heritage as their primary running shoe. We also think they could be a good choice for over-pronators coming off of foot injuries or battling arthritis, given the high stability and cushioning. New Balance landed some style points with the pigskin upper and there are a few nice reflective materials added to the upper. Also, if you purchase the 990 Heritage, be happy to know you're supporting a homegrown product. New Balance made these shoes in the good ol' US of A.


Our Analysis and Test Results

Give the New Balance 990 Heritage a shot if cost is not a factor and you're looking for a comfortable and supportive everyday shoe to do more walking in than running.

Performance Comparison


Overall  we find the New Balance 990 Heritage to be a better shoe for walking and standing around than running. We enjoy using them as post-run recovery shoes.
Overall, we find the New Balance 990 Heritage to be a better shoe for walking and standing around than running. We enjoy using them as post-run recovery shoes.

Responsiveness


We give the 990 Heritage the lowest score in responsiveness. Easily put, we think the it is just not a "fast" shoe whatsoever. That's not what it's built for. We feel more lag in the turnover than in any other shoe in the group. If you're looking for a shoe with the most responsive and propulsive ride we tested, browse our review of the Mizuno Wave Prophecy 3.

Landing Comfort


The 990 Heritage earns the lowest score in landing comfort. We felt the ride to be very clunky and awkward, and we were never able to get into our regular relaxed stride pattern while wearing these shoes. We can't suggest running over four to five miles at once in the 990 Heritage, since our feet regularly begin to ache around that distance. For walking throughout the day and around town, the 990 Heritage proves to be comfortable for hours on end. We read many user reviews about this shoe being a great option for people with foot issues such as arthritis. We can't test this ourselves, but feel there is enough feedback to likely be true.

Upper Comfort


For the most part, we feel the 990 Heritage has a well made and comfy upper. It's constructed of mesh, a soft comfort layer, and pigskin. Yes we said pigskin! New Balance gets some style points for this. The shoe does fit a bit large and wide. We recommend sizing down one-half from your regular size. The upper is more roomy in the toe box than any of the other shoes in our test group. If you prefer a tighter fit, there is a narrow version available. One thing we feel New Balance needs to fix is a design flaw we notice in the tongue and lace construction. The tongue slides to the side of the foot after just minutes of running or walking, which can get annoying fast. This also affirms multiple user reviews stating the same problem. A lace eyelet on the tongue would easily fix this. The heel is rigid and supportive with a comfortable dual density foam collar, keeping your foot secure.

The laces that come with the 990 Heritage are generic though we feel the upper is comfortable and well made.
The laces that come with the 990 Heritage are generic though we feel the upper is comfortable and well made.

Stability


The 990 Heritage come in a tie for the third best stability shoe we tested. We find that it has good solid posting and is quite supportive. It has a consistent, firm, and stable ride that we believe works best for heavier runners or walkers that need that more cushioning and extra stability.

Breathability


Covered with pigskin and a layered mesh upper, our feet usually come back hot and sweaty after a few miles in the 990 Heritage. We feel that New Balance was more focused on style than breathability when designing this shoe. Therefore, the 990 Heritage receives our lowest score in breathability. Scan our review of the Brooks Ghost 8 if you want a shoe with a more comfortable and breathable upper.

New Balance keeps the 990 Heritage classy while featuring a pigskin leather upper. This might not be the most breathable upper of the group  though know you'll be wearing these shoes in style.
New Balance keeps the 990 Heritage classy while featuring a pigskin leather upper. This might not be the most breathable upper of the group, though know you'll be wearing these shoes in style.

Weight


The heaviest shoe we tested at 13.4 ounces, these are 1.2 ounces heavier than the next heaviest shoe in the group. Unlike the 12.2 ounce Mizuno Wave Prophecy, we feel the Heritage 990 gives no propulsion to our stride and runs just as heavy as the listed weight. If you want a stability shoe in a more reasonable weight class, check out our awesome review of the Asics Gel-Kayano 21.

Durability


We feel the 990 Heritage is not the most durable shoe. At first glance, we notice the outsole to have an overall rugged build. New Balance uses their signature Ndurance rubber compound on the outsole as well as blown rubber on the forefoot. Though, after closer inspection, it looks to us like glue was lathered and the sole slapped on. We just don't feel the shoe will hold up to high miles, and a significant number of user reviews agree that the 990 can't handle the amount of miles they hoped for without falling apart.

Best Application


Not for the serious runner, these shoes are best for walking, recreation, and standing for long periods of time.

Value


At $150-$165, these shoes are expensive for just an everyday walking shoe.

Conclusion


The New Balance 990 Heritage wasn't even close to our favorite road running shoe. Though, we feel it could be a good choice for those who end up doing more walking than running, or slip them on as a comfortable post-run recovery shoe for lounging around.


Jimmy Elam