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Gear Review – New Balance Hierro v5

As with all of our shoe reviews, we focus on some key areas to make sure you can easily compare models.  We like to look at the looks; fit; grip; value; weight; durability as well as our likes and dislikes; and our overall thoughts.

Today we’re reviewing the New Balance Hierro V5.  I spotted these shoes in one of those lovely marketing brochures that online sports stores send out in the post to tempt you into buying…. And boy, was I tempted?!  Whilst these shoes are quite unlike my normal preference (I typically like a minimalist shoe with a wide toe box and low or zero drop) I was taken with the jazzy colours and the Vibram sole. 

So, what did we think?  Let’s dive right in…

Looks

Let’s face it… It was clearly the looks that drew me to this shoe in the first place.  Whilst the colourway might not be to everyone’s taste, I absolutely love the mix of gold, blue, white and black.  I am a big fan of colour in my running outfits so these were perfect. 

For those of you who like a more subdued colour, the Hierros also come in a pretty black, violet and grey edition; a bold red and black with yellow accents; and a black with moonbeam. 

The only odd part of the looks is the fin that protrudes from the rear sole of the shoe – more on that later, but it certainly looks distinctive.  They’re certainly a good-looking shoe, but how do they fare for comfort, fit, grip, value and durability?

Fit

The fit was one of the elements I was unsure of before I purchased this shoe.  As I said earlier, I typically run in Inov8s but wanted a shoe that was slightly more cushioned for my shorter training runs, where I am running on the road or by the canal.  I was concerned about sacrificing a wider toebox and low or zero drop for something more plush, and most of the reviews I’d read online highlighted fit as a potential problem with these shoes. 

In fact, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  The toe box is wide enough to accomodate wearing my CorrectToes whilst running (if you haven’t come across CorrectToes before, check them out here: https://www.correcttoes.com/ – I’ve been wearing them to treat my bunion).  The mesh upper fabric has enough give to allow the toes plenty of wiggle room, whilst the heel cup is secure and comfortable.  There is less volume in the toe box than in other shoes but not so little to cause any issues. 

I was able to wear these straight out of the box for a five miler with no issues and have not had a blister in them.  New Balance’s Fresh Foam midsole really does deliver on it’s claims to provide a soft feel – it’s plush enough to full cushioned and comfortable, without being wallowy.  

So far, so good.  But,it’s not all puppy dogs and ice cream with the Hierros.  The lacing system isn’t great – the laces run through small loops that don’t feel particularly connected to the upper.  The laces themselves aren’t premium quality and it’s difficult to pull them through the loops.  The result is that it’s nearly impossible to get a really dialed in, snug fit.  For me, not a huge problem as I’m using these for road running but I  certainly wouldn’t trust these on trail where I need to know my foot is secure in the shoe.

Grip

The Hierro V5 are designed as a trail shoe, so the lugs are nice and grippy, spaced to push any mud out and away from the sole.  I’m a huge fan of Vibram and think they are unrivalled in terms of grip so, if the fit wasn’t so problematic, I would happily wear these on trail. 

For my road running, the performed well in both wet and dry conditions.  I also took them on a three day backpacking trip on the North Downs Way and they were brilliant, coping well with the mud, rocks, grass and everything in between. 

A note here on that fin, that extends from the rear of the shoe.  First of all, I genuinely don’t know what it is there for (and can’t seem to find a definitive answer online) so I can only assume it’s cosmetic or, as others have suggested, to aid with downhill running.  Most of the time I don’t even notice it is there (whether that’s a good or bad thing, who knows?!) but it does cause me two small issues.  It’s a pain in the rear when going downstairs as I always manage to clip it on the stair as I step down – when you live on the third floor, that isn’t ideal. 

The slightly bigger issue is that I find it flicks debris (small stones, dust etc.) up and into the back of the shoe.  This may just be my running style but it really is a noticeable difference between these and other non-finned shoes.  So, be ready to be constantly fishing bits out of your shoe or resign yourself to wearing gaiters if this bugs you. 

Value

New Balance have produced a premium shoe and, of course, that attracts a premium price.  Whilst not in the realms of a £230 pair of Nike’s, they are still in the expensive bracket at £125.  They are easy to get ahold of though and will no doubt drop in price as newer models are released.  

I did get a bit of a bargain on these as I had a 50% off at Runners Need through my Vitality Life Insurance but I’m not sure I would have paid full RRP for them, as they were a bit of a risk and a departure away from ‘the normal’ for me. 

Value for money is relative of course, as any pair of shoes (or anything else for that matter) are only worth as much as you would be happy to pay for them. 

Weight

I weighed my New Balance (size 8) and they came in at 355g per shoe, so total weight of 710g per pair.  These are significantly heavier than my Inov8 Race Ultra 270s and my New Balance Minimus, but honestly I would never expect them to be in the same ballpark. 

They are more comparable to something like the Nike Zoom Air, which weigh in at about 250g per shoe, so you can see that the New Balance definitely tip towards the heavy end of the scale. 

 I can definitely tell these are heavier than my normal running shoes, but they don’t feel uncomfortably heavy or bulky to run in.  I am consciously making the decision to sacrifice weight for comfort and a nice plush ride.  Good for training runs but maybe not for those racing whippets out there!

Durability

So far, so good.  I’ve racked up around 300 miles in these over a variety of terrains.  They might be muddied and slightly less shiny than they were, but that’s just cosmetic.

I do worry about the lacing loops as I could easily imagine these snapping if I was a little too vigorous when lacing them and I am not convinced they will last, but time will tell.  The ride is just as comfortable as it always has been, with no flat spots or significant wear on the Fresh Foam.

The treated mesh upper has worn really well – I was a little concerned to start with about how durable that might be as I imagined it would tear easily but it’s still intact. 

The Vibram sole, as expected, is brilliant and showing virtually zero signs of wear, despite it being a trail shoe that I run on the road a lot in. 

My likes/dislikes

I would definitely describe these as more of a ‘fashion’ running shoe – for ‘serious’ runners I suspect the fit and weight would be a problem and, when you compare them to shoes from other brands around the same price point, there are probably better options out there. 

I love the styling and the plush ride, as well as the grippy sole.  They’re perfect for me for short runs on road or canal where I’m looking for more cushioning.  The 8mm drop so far hasn’t negatively affected me but I am cycling these shoes with my Inov8s and New Balance Minimus. 

Dislikes are the lacing system and subsequent fit issues, and that slightly annoying fin on the back (it’s just not necessary and simply adds extra weight).   The weight of the shoe could be less, but that’s not a huge dislike as it I didn’t buy these as a lightweight racing shoe and, as a tortoise anyway, it likely makes a negligble difference. 

Overall impressions

These shoes will appeal to a certain type of runner or to someone who is looking for something jazzy to wander around town in.  They’re probably not the best performing shoe for runners, but I genuinely enjoy wearing them. 

They’re certainly not going to compete with most specialist trail shoes out there (Inov8s, Hoke Speedgoats, Salmon S Lab Sense and the like) and I would imagine a lot of trail runners wouldn’t be seen dead in a pair of these. 

For me, they simply make me smile when I put them on and they keep my feet happy on runs – what more could I ask?! 

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