New Balance Nitrel V3 - Women's Review
Cons: Lacks traction on steep or sloppy surfaces, upper loses shape when wet, not breathable
Manufacturer: New Balance
Our Analysis and Test Results
The New Balance Nitrel offers a nice well-cushioned ride on smooth surfaces.
Without much underfoot protection, this shoe is best for non-technical trails and road running. It comes with a super springy and responsive cushioning called RevLite and no rock plate. The amount of cushioning is not advertised, but it feels ample underfoot. With an 8mm drop, there's more protection in the heel than the forefoot, making it a good option for both heel and forefoot strikers.
You can indeed feel rocks and roots underfoot, but it offers enough cushioning to protect your feet on less-technical trails that are dry and don't require large amounts of protection from relentless rocky terrain. We are also impressed with the upper that does good work to wick away water. That said, when it does eventually become saturated, it gets heavy, but dries out quickly. The mesh isn't very breathable but is impervious to fine particulates and keeps you protected.
You can feel the trail with this shoe. With some cushioning in the forefoot and heel, the midsole is thicker than most ultra-sensitive shoes. That said, while it does offer a sensitive ride, the airy foam does take a little bit away in the form of more protection.
The outsole is composed of a rubber composite that is sticky on dry surfaces, though the pattern and lug shape is not aggressive. The lugs aren't multidirectional, with a lot less in the heel. When testing on a local trail, we found our heel slipping out quite a bit on the downhill, with little lateral traction.
Forget about using it on super sloppy surfaces; the lugs simply aren't deep enough. While it does a great job on super flat trails with the odd rock here and there, it is really built best for dirt roads and less technical terrain.
The shoe itself has a very flexible feel. It doesn't have a bomber stability harness that attaches to the laces, so even when you pull them tight, the upper will crease and bow out in odd places. The fit feels roomier in the toe box, which offers good balance on the trail. The extra cushion in the heel (about 8mm) offers nice stability if you are a heel striker. When wet, the shoe deforms and changes shape, which isn't great for stability. We found ourselves re-adjusting it on the trail when this happened. As a result of these experiences, we opted for other shoes when it came to technical terrain. This one became a road-runner for dirt roads and less technical trails.
Comfort and Fit
We do love the super-responsive cushioning in the midsole, which feels airy and bouncy, and has great responsiveness. The fit is good for all types of feet. It comes in both a wide and regular size, which is a wonderful advantage.
The upper is thick and padded, which is a little strange, and unfortunately doesn't breathe very well in hot weather. While this shoe is comfortable overall, it's not a choice for super long runs, but best for the 5K to a half marathoner.
We do love the lightweight feel of this trail runner. Weighing only 9.1 ounces, you will feel fast when zooming down an easy single-track trail or while training on a country road.
The price on these is quite low, and they score quite low as well. If you have a rapport with New Balance or you are simply looking to start trail running by running on dirt roads and easy trails, this is one to consider. However, there are those with the same price and better performance in this review that you should consider instead.
The New Balance Nitrel is an affordable trail shoe that is best for non-technical trail and roads. Its low overhead cost is appealing, and so is its lightweight construction and super responsive ride. While it's not a high performer amongst the competition, its still a decent choice for trails that aren't technical, or those looking to try out trail running. Other options are just as cheap but with better performance, but if you appreciate a less rigid and more flexible shoe, this one is unique.
— Amber King
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