New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi Trail Review
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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