New Balance 1500 v4 Review Facts
Despite a significant portion of the market for athletic and fashion-focused footwear being taken up by one or two monolithic brands, there are several lesser-known manufacturers that have carved out small niches of customers interested in what they have to offer to the world of athleisure. In the case of New Balance, individuals who purchase their shoes time after time appreciate their particular approach to comfort, support for walking, and the ability to order in wider size variants. With the New Balance 1500 v4, a few of the brand’s trademark features can be seen in its design. However, they’ve also implemented some design aspects that are more commonly found in more popular shoes, most likely as an attempt to break into these new demographics.
The underside of the New Balance 1500 v4 is visually distinctive in a way that has practical applications. At first glance, this shoe’s outsole is comprised of two smaller plates on the lateral side and one long plate on the medial side. These plates are colored one of two ways and are densely populated with large arrow-shaped lugs for aerodynamic traction. They’re also punctuated with several slim flex
grooves placed horizontally, with one large trench weaving vertically between the two sides. These different markings help to increase this shoe’s flexibility to the point that it is more durable and comfortable for wearers while also decreasing the weight of the entire product. The end result of these features is an underfoot with both style and substance.
In keeping with the aesthetic theme adopted for the outsole, the midsole of the New Balance 1500 v4 has an arrow pattern similar to that of its underfoot treading. However, the main appeal to this shoe’s middle portion isn’t its looks, but rather the technology
that went into its construction. New Balance proudly advertises the fact that these midsoles were made from their proprietary RevLite technology, a form of EVA foam cushioning that is 30% lighter than usual. Despite weighing considerably less, the core appeal to this material is the fact that it loses no cushioning or responsiveness when compared to their heavier midsoles, which is a true feat of engineering.
For New Balance, the upper portion of their running and walking
shoes is usually where they diverge most significantly from the status quo, which is both a positive and a negative. The negative part of this is that they often have an inferior style to the more popular products from other brands, but the positive is that this is how New Balance managed to carve out an exclusive niche in the market. With the 1500 v4, however, it’s clear that this footwear manufacturer is attempting to mimic other running shoes. The shoe’s upper is made from FantomFit, another proprietary technology from New Balance that serves as a sew and stitch-free synthetic knitting. This draws a clear comparison of products such as Nike’s Flyknit and Adidas’ Primeknit, offering similar benefits and drawbacks.
Most customers know New Balance as the company that designs bulky and heavy shoes with a large emphasis on cushion and support. The 1500 v4, on the other hand, bucks these trends by having a surprisingly low weight
. These shoes weigh just over 8 ½ ounces on average for men’s sizes and slightly over 7 ounces in women’s, which is even lighter than the typical casual running shoe from other athleisure companies. The obvious benefit to this is a lack of burden on the wearer’s calves and ankles, as well as a reduced need for temperature management. However, the drawbacks to this design decision is a lack of durability, cushioning, and support; which are all considered staples of New Balance footwear.
The primary benefit to the New Balance 1500 v4’s upper design is its greatly enhanced breathability. Thanks to the thin layer of woven synthetic fibers, air can easily enter and exit the inside of this shoe. This allows the wearer’s feet to maintain a comfortable temperature and will prevent them from sweating
, greatly reducing moisture and odor. Additionally, the rest of this New Balance shoe is impressively lightweight, even as far as other footwear brands are concerned. Because of this, it is less likely that internal temperatures for the 1500 v4 will rise, both due to less energy being required in order to move them and because of a lack of insulation. As a result, this improved breathability is almost redundant, although it is still helpful when running in very warm climates
New Balance has managed to attract a small but dedicated following of loyal customers due to their great emphasis on providing comfort in their design. In the past, this was accomplished through the use of several padded layers, giving them a bulky appearance as a consequence. However, the New Balance 1500 v4 takes a different approach to its design than the traditional method and uses much lighter and thinner material instead. While this does mean that the pillow-esque cushioning many customers have been accustomed to has changed, these shoes are still able to provide an acceptable level of comfort
for the wearer’s foot due to its lightweight and breathable design.
One of the reasons why New Balance never reached the same level of acclaim as more popular
running shoe brands is the fact that their sense of style has always been somewhat tacky and outdated. Thanks to their emphasis on greater cushion and accommodations for wide feet, their shoes have a bulky and sometimes lumpy appearance which doesn’t do the wearer many favors in the fashion department. In recent years, however, New Balance has attempted to rectify this shortcoming, even if it comes at the expense of everything they’ve accomplished so far. It’s an objective fact that these shoes are much more stylish than the vast majority of their footwear catalog, but it comes at the cost of their unique identity.
Although New Balance shoes were often ugly and heavy, they were always known for lasting a long time. Loyal customers of their shoes didn’t have to replace them often, but in the cases where they did need to shop for a new pair, they almost always picked another pair of New Balances. The 1500 v4 has some features that make them able to withstand a decent amount of punishment, with the most notable of these being present underneath around the outsole, but they still pale in comparison to the older models. Customers should expect these shoes to last reliably for a season or two, but they will likely need to perform regular maintenance in order to guarantee any longer of a lifespan.
Durability and protection often come hand in hand with running shoes; this means that if a product is impressive in one aspect they are usually strong in the other, and vice versa. While this may not be a universal fact in the world of running shoe design, it is certainly the case for the New Balance 1500 v4. The FantomFit upper, while comfortable and breathable, will do very little for the wearer in terms of protection from debris or injury from impact. However, the underside of these shoes is much better in this regard, since the outsole and midsole admirably offer protection from repetitive stress and can handle mild forms of running terrain. Regardless, caution should be exercised when running in these shoes so as to avoid serious injury.
In addition to improving its breathability, flexibility, and comfort, a major benefit to the lightweight construction of the New Balance 1500 v4 is the fact that they offer excellent responsiveness. Another culprit for the faster response times found in these shoes is its midsole since the RevLite EVA foam manages to function as a lightweight spring. The dense material absorbs the impact from each strike and then violently expels it to drive the wearer’s foot forward for the next step. This effect is amplified around the heel due to the higher concentration of rearfoot padding but it can be felt around the forefoot as well, albeit to a lesser degree.
When it comes to underfoot support, the New Balance 1500 v4 does an admirable job thanks to its midsole and outsole. These two elements work together to accommodate the vast majority of feet in a way that they can run for long periods of time without feeling uncomfortable or sore. For individuals with a proclivity for running injuries such as plantar fasciitis or for runners who experience pronation discrepancies and other gait abnormalities, these shoes probably won’t provide an adequate level of support to mitigate these issues. However, removing the insert and replacing it with an orthotic insole can help with some of these issues.
These New Balance running shoes are designed for use by casual runners with the intention of accommodating the typical forms of terrain encountered by these individuals. This means that they will provide the best performance and last the longest on running surfaces such as a sidewalk, asphalt road, grassy field, running track, or treadmill. Due to the sizable treading located underfoot, some wearers may be led to believe that these shoes can perform well on more intense environments, such as a hiking trail or hard dirt road. It’s true that the 1500 v4’s outsole resembles those of trail running shoes to an extent, but the rest of their design makes it a bad idea to use them for this purpose.
New Balance has done a good job in the past of selling their products at an affordable price point. Although their products will be made of more material on average, thus necessitating a higher cost, they manage to make an acceptable compromise that doesn’t place them too far outside of a casual runner’s budget. Much like their previous models, the New Balance 1500 v4 has a price that is slightly above average, even with a recent price cut. However, the lack of additional padding, support, or wide foot sizing makes this price increase harder to justify.
As mentioned above, the aggressive tread pattern found on the New Balance 1500 v4’s outsole provides an impressive amount of traction for the wearer. The lugs are arrow-shaped, which allows them to provide a decent amount of grip without going overboard. If these lugs were teeth or claw-shaped, as is custom with heavy-duty trail running shoes, they would offer so much traction that it would prevent the wearer from reaching higher running speeds. Fortunately, the design adopted by New Balance for these shoes is a terrific compromise in terms of speed and grip.
The thinner material used for the construction of this shoe’s outsole and upper allow the 1500 v4 to provide a comfortable degree of flexibility. Because of this, wearers of these New Balance shoes won’t feel as though their feet are uncomfortably contained within excessively rigid footwear. However, these shoes may cross the line from comfortable flexibility to unwieldy and difficult to control. In the difficult balancing act between stability and flexibility, these shoes veer too far into the latter category for many individuals.
Because the New Balance 1500 v4 is so much thinner and lighter than the average running shoe from this manufacturer, customers should be aware that they will offer considerably less stability than older offerings from this brand. The outsole and midsole, while also thin, manage to provide enough stability that most runners won’t completely lose control of their footing when reaching faster speeds. The FantomFit upper with its form-fitting design also provides a modicum of stability by attaching firmly to the wearer’s foot, but these design elements are significantly overpowered by the excessive flexibility present in the rest of its design.
The difference in elevation between the heel and forefoot of the New Balance 1500 v4’s midsole is around 6 millimeters, with the thicker portion located near the rear. This is a common design practice for traditional running shoes, since those who wear them have a habit of striking the ground with this portion of their foot. However, the heel drop for this particular running shoe is shallower than that of the average runner from a company like Nike or Adidas. The cause for this may be in order to reduce weight, or it could be in order to provide a smooth transition for individuals used to wearing training shoes or trail runners.
- Hard rubber outsole with large tread pattern
- RevLite EVA foam midsole for lightweight responsiveness
- FantomFit upper is tight and highly breathable
- Slight heel drop
- Seamless construction for added comfort
- Minor size accommodations for wide feet
These shoes are very different from most of the products released by New Balance over the past 15 years. This is a move that is likely to take many dedicated customers by surprise, especially if they appreciate their footwear for comfort and alternate width sizing. There are certainly elements of the 1500 v4 that are appealing and worth the casual customer’s attention, but it doesn’t seem like these changes were necessary or effective. The average customer looking for a shoe in the style of Adidas or Nike is going to pick a product from one of those brands over one from a different brand nine out of ten times. Because of this, these New Balance shoes may have been poorly thought out from a business perspective, but that doesn’t mean they can’t offer an above average running experience.