New Balance 690v2 Trail

With the rising popularity of trail running, more well-known brands are now attempting to create their own rugged outdoor sports shoe. Some have succeeded quite wonderfully, while others may need to go back to the drawing board. Though it may not look like your average trailing model, the New Balance 690v2 still seems to perform quite well in a number of rough environments. The design of its AT tread outsole enables a strong grip onto rocks and roots, while its upper provides climate control to ensure greater comfort and an easier run in warm weather. Of course, because it does not resemble a trail shoe, many buy this model solely for casual wear. This could explain why buyers have reported extensive damage after only a few weeks of wear.

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Where to Buy
Where to Buy
Pros & Cons

-Multiple width options

-Extremely comfortable wear

-Bright color options

-Affordable price

-Reliable traction


-Lacks durability

-Inconsistent traction

Key Features
New Balance's trademarked AT tread outsole can be found on the 690v2 Trail. It features a series of moderately aggressive and multi-directional gripping lugs that are formed in triangular shapes. It provides amazing traction during runs across light and medium trails. Initially, a good number of reviewers stated that this model could also transition easily onto everyday surfaces. However, reports of lacing durability and damage indicated that this outsole is not intended for road running or casual activities.
Injection Molded EVA foam, or IMEVA, is exactly what its name implies. Starting off as heated-liquid, it's injected into a midsole mold that's smaller than the actual feature and later expands when taken out. This is what's found in the 690x2 Trail and, what many say, gives it its lightweight feel and enhanced responsiveness. Greater comfort is offered with the inclusion of a smooth, cushioned insole and the brand's trademarked NB Response 2.0 performance insert. This, plus the sock-like fit and breathability of its upper, ensure an incredibly comfortable wear for the runner.
The 690v2 Trail's synthetic mesh upper is made with seamless construction. Aside from optimal breathability, it also provides a comfortable, sock-like fit that eliminates the possibility of irritations. Minimal overlays ensure greater support and structure, and Toe Protect placed at the front safeguards from potential hazards. Its padded collar supports the ankle and keeps the foot held in place and prevents accidental removal. Finally, its gusseted tongue is sewn onto the sides to prevent dirt and debris from entering the foot chamber.
For a trail running shoe, this particular model is incredibly lightweight. Men’s sizes weight in at just over 10 oz while women’s come in at just under 8 oz. The shoe’s minimal features, careful engineering, and breathable nature all ensure a very light and easy wear. Of course, there are some runners who are a bit turned off by this, as that extra weight is what assures them that their footwear is protective and durable. However, many are easily converted once they've given this model a try.
One of the benefits of the 690v2's synthetic mesh upper is the highly breathable wear that it offers. Ventilating pores can be found all along the forefoot area and on the sides of the shoe, even surrounding its synthetic logo. This allows for greater targeting of hotspots where they are most likely to occur. As a result, greater temperature and moisture control are guaranteed to the runner no matter how long they wear this shoe. Of course, what makes it even better is knowing that the upper's construction permits airflow yet is able to keep dirt and debris from entering the foot chamber.
Though a comfortable wear isn't the first thing that some buyers think of when it comes to trail running shoes, it's actually essential to optimal protection and support while on challenging surfaces. The IMEVA midsole provides all of the shock absorption and energy transfer, ensuring a reduction in pain and fatigue by the end of the run. The synthetic mesh upper features a smooth lining with seamless construction, eliminating the possibility of infections caused by stitching. It also provides a highly breathable wear, keeping the foot cool and dry all day long. Even better, the fastening of the tongue to the sides of the shoe helps to block out dirt and debris from the foot chamber. Finally, its cushioned insole and the NB Response 2.0 performance insert keep the underfoot comfortably supported.
Many reviewers purchase the 690v2 Trail without even realizing that it's a trail running shoe. And when looking at its overall design, it's easy to see why they would make that mistake. Its sleek, minimalist upper features no extensive overlays and has only the toe protect as its one obvious safeguarding feature, and its outsole's gripping lugs aren't nearly as aggressive as they are on other models. What catches everyone's eyes are its multiple color options and the marbled design featured on the outsole. Some of the available selections include red/black, blue/black, grey/orange, or turquoise/pink.
Despite this model being marketed as a trail running shoe, and buyers noting how well it performs on rough surfaces, its considerable lack of durability does limit its usage quite a bit. When visiting any online listing, a number of reviews can be found describing the cheap-looking materials that construct this shoe. Buyers say that holes formed in the upper just weeks after they made their purchase. Some say that the midsole cushioning wore down and damaged their feet, while others noticed that the sole unit started to tear away from the shoe. It should be noted that many of these negative reviews were made by those who use this model for casual wear instead of trail running, so proper usage is essential to ensuring that it does not become damaged.
Though it doesn’t look like a very protective model, the 690v2 Trail is actually able to safeguard the runner against a number of different hazards. The lugs of its AT tread outsole provide a superior grip on light to moderate trails of all types, even shielding the foot against jagged rocks. Its IMEVA midsole absorbs the shock created by each landing, ensuring that the runner feels less pain and fatigue by the end of the day. The breathable nature of its synthetic mesh upper eliminates the possibility of foot odor, blisters, or infections that would be caused by excessive sweating, yet its construction ensures that dirt and debris are kept out. Finally, a Toe Protect is placed along the front to guard the toes against accidental impact. However, its too obvious downsides are its inconsistent durability and lack of water repellency.
One of the benefits of using an IMEVA midsole is its increased responsiveness. The process of creating this particular feature enables it to expand and contract easily, providing the runner with a higher amount of shock absorption and energy return than a standard foam material. Reviewers say that its springy step contributes greatly to the 690v2 Trail’s lightweight wear.
Many reviewers say that the wear of the 690v2 Trail has them feeling completely supported throughout their runs. The more pliable nature of its IMEVA midsole allows it to adapt to the shape of the runner’s foot, giving them the proper amount of cushioning. The inclusion of the brand’s NB Response 2.0 performance insert adds to this and even provides some much-needed arch support. Though its overlays are not as extensive as those on other trail shoes, its upper’s sock-like fit wraps around the midsole to ensure a smoother and more secure wear. And, aside from keeping the foot in place, padding around the collar provides the runner with much-needed ankle support.
Based on reviews and product descriptions, the 690v2 Trail performs best on light to medium trails and road surfaces. Its AT tread lugged outsole carries the runner across rocks, gravel, and roots with ease. It also proves to be incredibly durable and resists the wear and tear that would otherwise be brought on by these environments. Even better, its gripping lugs are small enough that they can be worn for road running or casual wear without feeling cumbersome or experiencing degradation. However, the lack of protection, sturdiness, and water repellency in its upper does limit its usage quite a bit.
Even compared to most casual shoes, the 690v2 Trail is incredibly affordable at just $75. Generally speaking, New Balance prices out their models at much lower costs than Nike or Adidas. This, of course, makes them more accessible to the average runner. In addition, the low cost is yet another factor that makes this particular model an excellent choice for beginner trail runners. The only downside, to several reviewers, is that it also reflects how cheaply made this shoe is.
As traction is one of the key elements of a good trail running shoe, it's no surprise to learn that the 690v2 Trail performs so well on high-intensity runs and hikes. The triangular-shaped, multi-directional gripping lugs of its AT tread outsole help to carry the runner safely and securely across mud and uneven surfaces of all types. One reviewer even used this model during a Tough Mudder and felt completely safe even when running through water. It should be noted, however, that this model lacks water repellency and is not intended for wet environments. Though this shoe might look like it would easily transition onto road surfaces, reviews indicate that this only leads to early degradation.
Reviewers are very glad to know that the 690v2 Trail’s wear is much more flexible than that of other trail running shoes. IMEVA is specially created to be more pliable than regular foam, enabling the runner to better utilize their full range of motion. Aiding this even further is the synthetic mesh upper, held up by minimal overlays and a Toe Protect. Its sock-like fit wraps around the foot and completely adapts to its every single motion. Though some have pointed out that this model is still a bit stiffer than a casual running shoe, its easy wear definitely makes it stand out amongst other, more similar models.
The 690v2 Trail equips the runner with just enough stability to get them across light to medium trails. Its AT tread outsole provides superior traction, especially on uneven surfaces, enabling a completely safe and steady run. The impact absorption and energy return provided by the IMEVA midsole enhances this steadiness even further as its adaptable cushioning and the upper’s sock-like fit keep the foot from wobbling around. Padding around the collar and attached tongue is also in place to prevent accidental removal.
The 690v2 Trail has a heel-to-toe drop of 8mm on both men’s and women’s sizes. On most running shoes, this feature would measure 10mm in height. Trail running models typically have a lower drop as it gives the runner a higher sense of balance and greater control over their movements yet still offers them enough heel cushioning. Those who prefer a zero drop platform, however, will have to look elsewhere of their ideal running shoe.
Key Features
-AT tread outsole for strong, versatile traction
-Injection Molded EVA foam midsole
-Synthetic mesh upper with seamless construction
-Padded collar and tongue for support
-Several vibrant color options
-Affordable price tag of $75
-8mm heel-to-toe drop
Bottom Line
New Balance did a lot right, and a bit wrong, when it came to designing there 690v2 Trail running shoe. Its outsole design and level of traction ensure a secure and stable run across many different dry terrains. The IMEVA midsole provides a cushiony and flexible wear that comes complete with endless energy return. And its breathable synthetic upper ensures complete climate control and a seamless construction that eliminates the possibility of irritations or infections. That said, its resemblance to an average casual running shoe seems to have confused a number of buyers, who are then confused and disappointed when it falls apart after heavy use on paved roads. Because this shoe seems to work so well in its intended environment, there's some hope that New Balance will learn from this mistake and modify the design of this shoe's predecessor.
Where to Buy
By Jessica Pilla
Last updated:
Where to buy
Best offer on: Aug. 01. 2021

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