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New Balance Nitrel V3 - Women's Review

An affordable trail runner best for non-technical terrain and road running.
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Price:  $70 List | $45.05 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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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#19 of 19
  • Foot protection - 20% 5
  • Sensitivity - 20% 7
  • Traction - 15% 5
  • 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.


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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $45.05 at Amazon$106.54 at Amazon$101.20 at Backcountry
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$89.93 at REI$109.95 at Backcountry
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Inexpensive, airy comfortable ride, lightweight designWonderful traction, balance of sensitive and protection, durable outsole and upper, unisex designExcellent traction, great balance of foot protection and sensitivity, specific fit, durable outsoleComfortable, versatile fit, great responsiveness, fantastic value, durableInexpensive, super lightweight, light cushioning, comfortable, zero-drop, wide toe box yet narrow profile
Cons Lacks traction on steep or sloppy surfaces, upper loses shape when wet, not breathableLaces are short and stupid, expensive, potential midsole durability issues, zero drop may not be for everybodyHigher heel is less stable, lugs wear down on pavementDoesn't shed mud well, some midsole compaction over timePotential durability issues, less aggressive outsole not meant for muddy surfaces
Bottom Line An affordable trail runner best for non-technical terrain and road running.A unisex trail runner that offers amazing all-around performance on all surfaces.An aggressive trail shoe that is built for the steepest and most technical trails out there.A superior performer that offers exceptional value on all types of terrain.A zero-drop shoe boasting lightweight cushioning and a super wide toe box.
Rating Categories Nitrel V3 Inov-8 TerraUltra G260 Speedcross 5 Peregrine ISO Altra Superior 4.0 - Women's
Foot Protection (20%)
10
0
5
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
5
Sensitivity (20%)
10
0
7
10
0
10
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
Traction (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
5
Stability (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
10
0
9
Comfort And Fit (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
Weight (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
4
10
0
6
10
0
10
Specs Nitrel V3 Inov-8 TerraUltra... Speedcross 5 Peregrine ISO Altra Superior 4.0...
Measured Weight 9.1 oz 8.45 oz 10.7 oz 9.8 oz 7.9 oz
Ideal Terrain Non-technical trails All terrain Soft surfaces, technical terrain All terrain All terrain
Width Options Regular and wide Regular Regular and Wide Regular and Wide Regular
Heel-to-Toe Drop 8 mm 0 mm 10 mm 4 mm 0 mm
Stack Height from toe to heel (mm) n/a 9/9 10/20 18.5/22.5 21/21
Upper Mesh Kevlar Mesh Nylon mesh, sythetic overlays IsoFit Engineered knit
Midsole REVLite EXTERFLOW Injected EVA PWRFOAM Altra Quantic
Outsole All terrain rubber Graphene Grip Contragrip PWRTRAC MaxTrac/TrailClaw
Rock Plate? None Yes Yes None Yes
Sizes Available 5 - 12 4 - 15 5 - 12 5 - 12 6 - 11

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 Juan mountains  close to our home. This shoe feels fast and responsive on these smooth surfaces.
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.

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

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 how well it feels our feet dry until we accidentally submerged it. The uppers are protective but lack breathability.
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.

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 level of sensitivity.
While the underfoot cushioning is thicker, it still offers some level of sensitivity.

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 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.
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.

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

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

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. 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.
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.

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

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.

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 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.
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.

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 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.
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.


Amber King