When you are a new runner who is trying to decide what brand of running shoes to try or you are an experienced runner looking to venture away from your usual brand to try something different, you might be interested in a New Balance vs Nike running shoe comparison.
Nike and New Balance are both popular running shoe brands, leaving people asking questions like, “Is Nike better than New Balance?” or “Is New Balance better than Nike?”
In this guide, we look at New Balance vs Nike running shoes, aiming to identify differences between Nike and New Balance running shoes to help you find the right shoes for your needs.
We will cover:
- Which Is Better, Nike Or New Balance Running Shoes?
- New Balance Vs Nike: 5 Main Differences
Let’s dive in!
Which Is Better, Nike Or New Balance Running Shoes?
It’s important to establish right off the bat that our comparison of Nike and New Balance running shoes is not intended to identify a victor with some sort of definitive “better” running shoe brand.
New Balance and Nike are equally excellent running shoe companies with a vast lineup of different types of running shoe fit for different types of runners.
Both New Balance and Nike are running shoe brands accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), which speaks to their merit, quality, and design.
Furthermore, Nike and New Balance both design a complete range of types of running shoes, from neutral and cushioned shoes to stability and motion control shoes, trail shoes, road shoes, and racing flats.
However, there are some differences in the technology, fit, and feel of New Balance vs Nike running shoes, so our aim is to bring to light these differences to help you narrow down your search for the best running shoes for you.
New Balance Vs Nike: 5 Main Differences
Although both New Balance and Nike offer a range of running shoes—and thus, there are some exceptions to the generalizations that follow— there are a couple of general trends in the differences between New Balance vs Nike running shoes.
Nike running shoes tend to run fairly narrow, particularly in the heel and midfoot.
They make tons of performance-oriented shoes like track spikes and racing flats and are the company behind the rise of carbon fiber running shoes that became popularized after the Nike Breaking2 Project.
Shoes like the Vapor Fly are geared towards high performance and improved running economy.
Although these shoes can be seen on the feet of some of the world’s fastest runners, like Eliud Kipchoge, they are also marketed to everyday runners looking to boost performance.
Nike also makes more traditional running shoes that still feature cutting-edge shoe technology.
New Balance might not have the brand recognition on the elite, global scale that Nike does, but there are some runners who will find New Balance shoes to fit and feel better than Nike.
New Balance tends to be great for runners with wide feet because they not only offer a wide version in a greater percentage of the running shoe models in their lineup, but they also often offer an extra-wide option for men and women.
If you have a bunion or wide feet, there will almost always be at least one type of New Balance running shoes that can accommodate your feet.
Additionally, New Balance running shoes typically have a thicker midsole, which can provide more stability, so if you are an overpronator, they have some great supportive running shoes.
New Balance Vs Nike Running Shoes: Cushioning
Nike is known to inject air-filled cells into their shoes, in addition to various foams, for cushioning and bounce to give you a spring in your step while reducing shock.
New Balance uses light foams like Fresh Foam or FuelCell to provide softness without much weight.
In general, both brands offer shoes with a range of cushioning, from racing flats or minimalist shoes like the Nike Free, with virtually no cushioning, to highly-cushioned running shoes.
Nike makes a concerted effort to use some post-consumer recycled materials in many of its products to improve sustainability.
New Balance Vs Nike Running Shoes: Stability
Both Nike and New Balance offer some running shoes that provide stability and motion control for runners who overpronate.
New Balance tends to offer a few shoes that provide a lot of motion control for severe overpronation.
These shoes tend to be stiffer and have a wider base for more support, a heel flare for pronation control, and a gentle S shape to the shoe to pride lateral stability through the heel-to-toe transition.
Nike vs. New Balance Running Shoes: Fit and Sizing
Arguably, the biggest difference between Nike and New Balance running shoes is the fit and sizing of the shoes.
In general, New Balance is better than Nike in terms of offering a wider range of widths for their shoes, as well as larger sizes overall.
For example, most Nike shoes just come in a standard width, with a few models that offer a wide-width option.
In contrast, a fair number of the running shoes in the New Balance collection come in standard width (B for women, D for men) as well as wide (D for women, E for men).
Plus, they often offer extra-wide and narrow, with some shoes in 2A, EE, and more.
Therefore, if you have wide feet, in particular, or abnormally-narrow feet, this is a major draw towards New Balance vs Nike running shoes.
One additional user-friendly aspect of New Balance is that there is a rhyme and reason to the way they number their shoe models.
The final two digits in the shoe model correspond to the type of shoe that it is.
With this numbering system, the New Balance shoe categories are as follows:
- Ends in 40: “Optimal Control”: Shoes such as the 840 and 1540 are designed to enhance control, support, and stability for runners who overpronate or have flat feet.
- Ends in 50: “Fitness Running”: These shoes are designed to look snazzy and feel responsive for road or treadmill workouts.
- Ends in 60: “Stability”: Shoes like the 860 provide stability and cushioning together for runners who overpronate.
- Ends in 70: “Light Stability”: These shoes are lighter than those that end in 60, so they are designed for faster runners who need some support but who don’t want to sacrifice speed.
- Ends in 80: “Neutral”: Shoes like the 1080 are designed to cushion the foot for high-mileage running.
- Ends in 90: “Speed”: These shoes are designed for speed workouts, races, or competitive running, so they are light and responsive.
Compared to most running shoe brands, Nike running shoes tend to run small and certainly snugger than New Balance in terms of width and length.
You might want to size up a half or whole size from your street shoes.
Nike vs New Balance Running Shoes: Durability
The durability of any Nike and New Balance running shoes is about equal.
Both companies manufacture their running shoes to last approximately 300 to 500 miles, with some of the budget models coming in slightly lower than that.
Additionally, the carbon fiber Nike Vapor Fly, while pricy, typically has a life expectancy of only 200-300 miles, but it’s a performance racing shoe rather than an everyday trainer.
Keep in mind that how long your running shoes will last depends not only on the materials and quality of construction of the shoes themselves but also factors like your body size, your running gait and biomechanics, the terrain that you run on, how often and how long you run, whether or not you rotate your shoes, and the environmental conditions.
New Balance Vs Nike Running Shoes: Price
You can find a range of prices for either New Balance or Nike running shoes, but New Balance tends to trend slightly less, so it’s typically a more cost-effective option.
Overall, both Nike and New Balance make fantastic running shoes.
If you are looking to optimize performance and have a fairly narrow or normally-sized foot, you might prefer Nike running shoes, but if you have wider feet that are traditionally hard to fit in running shoes comfortably, or if you have flat feet and need options for better stability, New Balance might be the way to go.
Here are a few Nike running shoes for you to check out:
Nike Men’s Free RN Flyknit Running Shoe
Nike Men’s Air Zoom Pegasus 38 Running Shoe
Nike Women’s Stroke Running Shoe
Nike Women’s Air Zoom Pegasus 36 Running Shoes
Here are a few New Balance running shoes for you to check out:
New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam X 1080 V12 Running Shoe
New Balance Men’s Fresh Foam X 1080 V12 Running Shoe
New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam X 860 V12 Running Shoe
New Balance Women’s Fresh Foam 680 V7 Running Shoe