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New Balance Nitrel V3 - Women's Review

An affordable trail runner best for non-technical terrain and road running
New Balance Nitrel V3 - Women's
Photo: New Balance
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Price:  $70 List | $46.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive, airy comfortable ride, lightweight design
Cons:  Lacks traction on steep or sloppy surfaces, upper loses shape when wet, not breathable
Manufacturer:   New Balance
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 2, 2019
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59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#20 of 20
  • Foot protection - 20% 5
  • Sensitivity - 20% 7
  • Traction - 15% 4
  • Stability - 15% 5
  • Comfort and Fit - 15% 6
  • Weight - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The lightweight and responsive ride of the New Balance Nitrel V3 is best enjoyed on non-technical trails and country roads. We love the airy feel of this trail runner, but its performance is lack-luster. As one of the lowest scoring shoes in this review, it's designed for flat terrain that isn't technical. It can handle sandy or dirt single-track with the odd puddle here and there, but it's not meant for super steep switchbacks or slippery terrain. With its flexible and less protective outsole, it's best used for shorter distances. We love the affordable price tag on this shoe, but be sure you read about its downfalls. If you still love it, it could be the deal of the day, getting you out on the trail.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $46.95 at Amazon$130 List$150.00 at Amazon$110 List
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Pros Inexpensive, airy comfortable ride, lightweight designExcellent value, protective, lightweight, superior stability, cushioning for the long haulWonderful traction, balance of sensitive and protection, durable outsole and upper, unisex designProtective, comfortable, wider toe box, excellent beefy traction for soft surfaces, huge valueVersatile use, aggressive outsole, fits most, comfortable, protective, all terrain use, good price
Cons Lacks traction on steep or sloppy surfaces, upper loses shape when wet, not breathableShort lacesLaces are short and stupid, expensive, potential midsole durability issues, zero drop may not be for everybodyNot ideal for roads, huge sizingNo water drainage system
Bottom Line A non-technical trail runner that is best on country roads and flat surfaces in fair weatherPerfectly balanced across all the metrics, this top dog has a little bit of something for everybodyConquer all types of trails with this all-around performerSoft and technical trails are no problem with this high value contenderComfortable and aggressive, this shoe is built for any trail for any distance
Rating Categories Nitrel V3 MTL Long Sky Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 Supercross Blast Peregrine 10
Foot Protection (20%)
5
9
7
9
8
Sensitivity (20%)
7
7
9
8
8
Traction (15%)
4
8
7
10
8
Stability (15%)
5
9
9
8
7
Comfort And Fit (15%)
6
9
9
9
9
Weight (15%)
8
9
9
5
7
Specs Nitrel V3 MTL Long Sky Inov-8 TerraUltra... Supercross Blast Peregrine 10
Measured Weight 9.1 oz 8.90 oz 8.45 oz 10.5 oz 9.80 oz
Relative Fit Regular Regular Regular Regular Regular
Heel-to-Toe Drop 8 mm 8 mm 0 mm 10 mm 4 mm
Upper Mesh Mesh & TPU Kevlar Mesh Continuous ripstop nylon Engineered mesh with 3D print overlays
Midsole REVLite EVA EXTERFLOW EVA Foam PWRRUN
Outsole All terrain rubber Vibram MegaGrip Graphene Grip Contragrip TD PWRTRAC
Rock Plate? None Yes Yes N/A Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 5 - 11 4 - 15 5 - 12 5 - 12

Our Analysis and Test Results

The New Balance Nitrel offers a nice well-cushioned ride on smooth surfaces.

Performance Comparison


Here we take the Nitrel V3 on an early morning road run in the San...
Here we take the Nitrel V3 on an early morning road run in the San Juan mountains, close to our home. This shoe feels fast and responsive on these smooth surfaces.
Photo: Edward Kemper

Foot Protection


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.

A look at the Nitrel. The midsole offers good cushioning that is...
A look at the Nitrel. The midsole offers good cushioning that is airy and bouncy but lacks a rock plate and other protective features.
Photo: Amber King

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.

Here we dip the continuous upper into the creek. We are surprised at...
Here we dip the continuous upper into the creek. We are surprised at how well it feels our feet dry until we accidentally submerged it. The uppers are protective but lack breathability.
Photo: Edward Kemper

Sensitivity


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.

While the underfoot cushioning is thicker, it still offers some...
While the underfoot cushioning is thicker, it still offers some level of sensitivity.
Photo: Amber King

Traction


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.

The outsole is pretty basic with some traction. Akin to a cheap...
The outsole is pretty basic with some traction. Akin to a cheap tire, it's not going to offer you good traction in really slippery terrain. The main reason why it is more suited for non-technical trails and roads as we see here.
Photo: Edward Kemper

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.

A look at the outsole. The lugs aren't very long, but they are...
A look at the outsole. The lugs aren't very long, but they are aggressive enough to take on less technical trails.
Photo: Amber King

Stability


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.

Over rocky terrain, this shoe just bends and folds with great...
Over rocky terrain, this shoe just bends and folds with great flexibility. It's not the most stable, but works.
Photo: Amber King

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.

We love wearing this shoe on small hikes and hang-outs with friends...
We love wearing this shoe on small hikes and hang-outs with friends. Here we climb a tree with it in Northern Ontario. Its comfort features make it easy to wear all day for a variety of activities.
Photo: Edward Kemper

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.

The padded upper that isn't very breathable, but it is thin...
The padded upper that isn't very breathable, but it is thin. Unfortunately, it loses shape after a while.
Photo: Amber King

Weight


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.

Fairly lightweight, it feels bouncy and flowy on the trail.
Fairly lightweight, it feels bouncy and flowy on the trail.
Photo: Amber King

Value


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.

Take the Nitrels with you on your next training run on the road. Its...
Take the Nitrels with you on your next training run on the road. Its lightweight design offers easy movement when the terrain isn't technical. A great option for beginners that love to road run, and want to try the trails.
Photo: Edward Kemper

Conclusion


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.

The Nitrel V3 is a lower-priced shoe that isn't built as well as...
The Nitrel V3 is a lower-priced shoe that isn't built as well as other more expensive contenders. That said, it'll still get you out on the trail. You'll just have to work harder in these than with other shoes.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King