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New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi Trail Review

A wearable budget option for those looking to save some cash
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Price:  $75 List | $65.23 at Amazon
Pros:  Low price, lightweight, sensitive ride
Cons:  Lacks lockdown fit, traction isn’t very aggressive, not much foot protection
Manufacturer:   New Balance
By Andy Wellman ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 12, 2020
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55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#19 of 19
  • Foot protection - 30% 4
  • Traction - 20% 5
  • Stability - 15% 5
  • Comfort - 15% 7
  • Weight - 10% 7
  • Sensitivity - 10% 8

Our Verdict

We'll be honest: we were attracted to the New Balance Arishi Trail because of its incredible price tag. You can pick up a pair of these shoes for half the price of an average trail runner, and roughly one-third that of the most expensive options! While they can't compete with our top picks, we do think this lightweight, sensitive trail runner can be a good choice as a cross-over shoe for those who like to run on roads or bike paths and also want to dabble in trails, especially for those on a budget or who just aren't committed enough to drop the cash that most trail running shoes require.

Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

In our comparative ratings, the Arishi Trail are one of the lower scorers. That said, they cost roughly half what many other options out there do, and rest assured, they are more comfortable than many that we've tested in the past. The lack of underfoot protection, low profile tread design, and sensitive ride, mean this is a shoe uniquely suited for crossover use, that is, seeing infrequent use on trails, or at least on trails that are of the more urban variety. They are not well suited to the rigorous demands of technical mountain running, but serve their purpose for those wanting a budget option.

Performance Comparison


The Arishi Trail are a very economical shoe that are senstive and lightweight  are with their low profile traction are ideally suited to crossover  road and trail  runs.
The Arishi Trail are a very economical shoe that are senstive and lightweight, are with their low profile traction are ideally suited to crossover, road and trail, runs.

Foot Protection


Despite the use of New Balance's Fresh Foam compound in the midsole, the Arishi Trail is fairly light on underfoot protection. They ride low to the ground, and lack a midsole rock plate, so you will have an intimate feel of whatever it is you are standing or landing upon. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and in fact, many people prefer to run in a far more sensitive than protective shoe. The foam that is present feels fairly firm, and doesn't have a lot of springy give or energy return, but does a decent job of dampening repetitive impacts.

The midsole in this shoe uses Fresh Foam  but as far as we can tell  not a whole lot of it. The underfoot protection feels minimal  and thus we appreciated the shoe more on smooth trails like this one.
The midsole in this shoe uses Fresh Foam, but as far as we can tell, not a whole lot of it. The underfoot protection feels minimal, and thus we appreciated the shoe more on smooth trails like this one.

The upper is also minimally protected, with a thin film overlay serving as toe bumper, and the rest of the shoe made of lightweight, breathable mesh.

Traction


The outsole of this shoe features New Balance's AT Tread, with the AT standing for All-Terrain. This means it's a hybrid design that's meant to add a little bit of added grip if you venture onto trails, but also remains low profile and fairly firm for enhanced durability on hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete. The entire bottom of the shoe is covered in hexagonal lugs that are roughly 2mm tall and have a sharp bite and edge oriented directionally. The rubber is not overly grippy, but provides a decent amount of surface area for increased friction on hard surfaces. The outsole isn't aggressive enough to offer great bite into soft surfaces like mud, grass, or snow.

The pattern of lugs on the sole of this shoe is very closely spaced together  with a lot of surface area for gripping solid surfaces. These lugs are very short for a trail running shoe  and the rubber is not super sticky  but harder for greater durability.
The pattern of lugs on the sole of this shoe is very closely spaced together, with a lot of surface area for gripping solid surfaces. These lugs are very short for a trail running shoe, and the rubber is not super sticky, but harder for greater durability.

Stability


The Arishi Trail features an 8mm heel-toe drop on a fairly narrow foot platform. While the shoe doesn't ride all that high above the ground, it also doesn't feel like one of the more stable options. Our principal complaint is the lack of lockdown fit, which allows our foot to move side to side within the shoe, and isn't very desirable for seriously off camber terrain.

With a 6mm heel-toe drop  and a fairly low ride  these shoes are relatively stable. However  we found it hard to get a lock down fit  one of the key elements of stability  and so most often ran on mellow single track  like the Metolius-Wendigo Trail near Sisters  OR.
With a 6mm heel-toe drop, and a fairly low ride, these shoes are relatively stable. However, we found it hard to get a lock down fit, one of the key elements of stability, and so most often ran on mellow single track, like the Metolius-Wendigo Trail near Sisters, OR.

Comfort


We feel that this shoe fits true to size, and while it is average to slightly narrow in the forefoot, is wider through the arch and heel. We have no complaints about the comfort as it relates to rubbing or pinch points on the inside of the upper, but found it to be a fairly sloppy shoe overall, without the structure in the upper to securely grip the foot. The shoe also has very little padding in the upper, with a virtually unpadded tongue, and minimal cushioning around the ankle opening that left us wanting a little bit more.

These shoes are fairly comfortable  but also have a minimal amount of padding and cushioning on this inside of the upper  including the virtually unpadded tongue. We wish there was a bit more padding around the ankle opening as well to enhance the comfort.
These shoes are fairly comfortable, but also have a minimal amount of padding and cushioning on this inside of the upper, including the virtually unpadded tongue. We wish there was a bit more padding around the ankle opening as well to enhance the comfort.

Weight


Our pair of men's size 11 shoes weighed 21.1 ounces on our independent scale, which is fairly light all things considered. We aren't surprised, considering this is a fairly minimal shoe without added features that contribute to a higher weight. They feel light on the feet, which is appreciated, and is one of the principal advantages of this shoe besides the low price.

These shoes are fairly light on the scale  and also feel pretty light while running in them  a nice advantage considering they lack a lot of underfoot protection.
These shoes are fairly light on the scale, and also feel pretty light while running in them, a nice advantage considering they lack a lot of underfoot protection.

Sensitivity


With their low weight also comes enhanced sensitivity. There is no rockplate sandwiched into the midsole that adds to rigidity, and the Fresh Foam compound feels fairly thin overall. As such, you will feel most of what you are stepping on, requiring a cautious approach in gnarly terrain, but adding a pleasant amount of trail feel on mellower trails.

With a low to the ground ride and not very much foam underfoot  these shoes are very sensitive  offering great trail feel on smoother trails.
With a low to the ground ride and not very much foam underfoot, these shoes are very sensitive, offering great trail feel on smoother trails.

Value


As we've already mentioned, the price point on these shoes is less than half many others found in this review. In this case, you likely get what you pay for, although we find them to be a surprisingly serviceable shoe on mellow terrain and for crossover purposes. As long as you don't expect top of the line performance, we think that this shoe presents pretty decent value, and makes for a solid budget pick.

While they don't perform as well as higher priced shoes  it's hard to argue with the very low price of these shoes  running here in front of Corbett Peak in the San Juans of Colorado.
While they don't perform as well as higher priced shoes, it's hard to argue with the very low price of these shoes, running here in front of Corbett Peak in the San Juans of Colorado.

Conclusion


The New Balance Arishi Trail easily win when it comes to one critical metric: price point. We haven't ever tested a trail running shoe priced where this one is, and all things considered, we thought they would perform a lot worse. While they won't win any awards, they are a serviceable cross-over or mellow trail option for the budget-conscious, or those who like a light and sensitive ride.

Mt. Jefferson  the second tallest mountain in Oregon  in the background as we run through the hilly scrublands in the Arishi Trial.
Mt. Jefferson, the second tallest mountain in Oregon, in the background as we run through the hilly scrublands in the Arishi Trial.

Andy Wellman