New Balance 997h Review

8.9
8.9 score
[Editors rating (8.9)] = Runnerclick score (8.9)/10

Our RunnerClick score is based on our editors overall rating compared to the user ratings in order to generate the most accurate and unbiased score of each product we review.

If there are less than 10 user reviews for the product in total, the weight of user reviews is decreased from 50% to 25% to make sure that new products are not rated too high.
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Editor rating: 8.9 / 10
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New Balance 997h Review Review Facts
Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

Very affordable

Retro design

Soft cotton lining

Flexible outsole

True to size

Cons

Narrow toe box

Loose in the heel

Outsole
Outsole

Outsole

The outsole of the New Balance 997h is composed of a blend of imeva and rubber. The use of these two types of materials gives your foot excellent mobility and flexibility while still being lightweight and easy. The soles of this design may look heavy and bulky, but the use of lightweight materials won’t weigh you down.

Treads on the base are strategically placed to grip all types of urban surfaces. Users love to wear this design while running errands all day or walking down slick and slippery rain-soaked sidewalks.
Midsole
Midsole

Midsole

A soft foam midsole cradles your foot and holds it in place. The soft foam in this design contours to the shape of your foot as you wear it, and it is incredibly breathable. Plus, it is grants flexibility to give your foot a full range of motion as you navigate your way through your day.

We also like that it has a super-soft foam insert that is punctuated with air holes to allow your foot to breathe as it releases heat. This insert design keeps your feet cool, dry, and comfortable.
Upper
Upper

Upper

We love the style of the upper, which we will get into a little bit later. The materials used for the construction of the upper are a tad stiff and have a higher profile than most low tops. It has flat laces that won’t dig into the top of your foot and a moderately cushy tongue.

The upper is constructed from a blend of suede as well as stitched leather. To keep your foot cool, there are subtle mesh panels found on the side as well as along the top of the toe box.

Weight
Weight

Weight

The weight of these shoes is slightly heavier than your standard sneaker. It weighs in at around 12 ounces, which is much heavier when compared to the average weight of running shoes (9.5 ounces).

If you like your sneakers to be light and easy, this structured and boxy design may not exactly be your cup of tea. However, even though it is heavier than most, the use of flexible materials makes it feel light despite the extra weight.
Breathability
Breathability

Breathability

It may be a little bit heavier than most, but this shoe is surprisingly breathable. At face value, it has mesh panels on the top of the toe box and on the sides of the shoe that promotes air circulation.

Inside, there are bonus features that help keep your feet cool and dry, even on super hot days. It has a foam insert that has small holes on the surface to help promote airflow.

The foam midsole is super lightweight and breathable to prevent your feet from overheating.
Comfort
Comfort

Comfort

One of the best features of the New Balance 997h is that it is insanely comfortable. This is a shoe that is designed to be worn from the moment that you wake up until bedtime, so it is made from materials that keep your foot supported all day long.

The soft foam midsole helps to cradle your foot, and the structured upper keeps it comfortably in place. Plus, it has a soft and springing heel that absorbs the impact from walking on hard surfaces, which helps take the strain off of your lower back.
Durability
Durability

Durability

As with all sneakers in the New Balance line, this design is made from quality materials that hold well over time. This model is made for everyday wear, which means that they won’t break down as much as your pair of long-distance trainers.

The composition of the thick rubber heel and the structure of the upper holds its shape quite well, even with continued use. It is important to note that the durability of this design doesn’t quite hold a candle to some models such as Brooks' trainers.

However, the affordable price tag makes the inevitable replacement sting just a little bit less.
Protection
Protection

Protection

There are two specific points on this shoe that keep your foot protected as you wear it. The first point that we want to discuss the structure of the upper. Not only does it cradle your foot in protective and durable suede and leather, but it also promotes lockdown.

The second thing we want to discuss is the spring to the sole. The lift to the heel helps absorb the impact with each and every step. By reducing the impact from hard surfaces such as sidewalks, your knees and lower back will thank you!
Responsiveness
Responsiveness

Responsiveness

While the New Balance 997h do offer a little bit of energy feedback, it is not on par with some of the long-distance or agility running shoes from brands such as Brooks or Nike. Users typically wear this stylish design when running errands, going for a walk, or simply wearing to work.

The structure of the upper and the gentle bounce of the sole doesn’t give you a lot of agility or speed but is perfect for the days that you are on your feet from morning until the evening. Plus, the blended rubber sole allows for more movement, despite its boxy appearance.
Support
Support

Support

The supportive features in this design are a little sparse. Taking into consideration that the New Balance 997h are more for style and movement than performance, you won’t find a lot of supportive features as you do in your average running shoe.

It has a stiff and rigid upper that helps promote lockdown to keep your foot securely in place as you move. Plus, it has a removable foam lining that is incredibly breathable and also works to contour to the shape of your foot as you wear it.
Terrain
Terrain

Terrain

It’s in your best interest to stick to the main roads when wearing the New Balance 997h. Besides, who will notice your stylish kicks in the middle of the woods? The casual nature of this design is made to be worn on surfaces such as sidewalks and other hard surfaces.

The blended rubber materials on the base of this shoe are great for gripping slick surfaces. If you plan on walking to work in the rain and don’t want to bring a change of shoes for the trek, these are great for getting you to your destination on wet or even slightly icy weather conditions.
Traction
Traction

Traction

The tread on the bottom of this shoe exists, albeit a tad bit shallow. What this means for you is that this isn’t a shoe that likes to travel off of the beaten path. It provides excellent traction for flat surfaces such as sidewalks and treadmills, and really grips even rain-soaked or icy pavement.

We don’t recommend taking these shoes for a walk or run on uneven trails. The nature of the sole has shallow treads that can’t really grip uneven and rocky surfaces the way that some of the other deep-treaded running shoes offer.
Flexibility
Flexibility

Flexibility

Sure, the outward appearance of these shoes looks stiff and blocky, but looks can be deceiving! Based on tons of user reviews, these are actually incredibly flexible. The blended rubber sole feels soft and squishy, and the flat laces won’t strangle your foot.

The upper may take a little bit of time to break-in before it starts to soften a bit to the shape of your foot. It is composed of stiff leather and suede with a stiff and structured heel. As you wear them, these materials will loosen up a bit as you wear them.
Stability
Stability

Stability

The New Balance 997h gets a B+ in our book when it comes to stability. It isn’t packed with a ton of innovative features to allow users to pick up speed, but it offers just enough to keep you comfortable when working on your feet all day.

The construction of the stiff upper with a supportive heel and lightly padded tongue promotes foot lockdown so that your foot doesn’t shift around inside of the shoe. Many users find that the entire line of New Balance shoes run true-to-size, so you can expect a great fit right out of the box.
Drop

Drop

The sole of this shoe doesn’t have much of a platform, which means that it is less stiff and promotes more movement through the entire foot. It boasts a mere 5 mm drop, which is significantly less than some of the standard 8 mm drop designs out there on the market.

A lower drop means a more flexible shoe, and it won’t feel as stiff and heavy. We quite like the lower drop in this casual shoe because it creates an easy and enjoyable ride when worn for long periods of time.
Style

Style

We are so excited to talk about the style of this shoe! In the 1990s, people lost their collective minds over the cool and blocky design of the 997. For years since the original release, fans of the original have been begging for a resign, and the 997h is it!

It has bold and blocky color panels along the heel and comes in a few color options. Whether you like something that is neutral or you want a little pop of bright neon color, there is a style to match most tastes. Plus, the blocky silhouette is incredibly stylish and on-trend at the moment.
Price

Price

New Balance is a brand that is known for proving top quality materials and designs at approachable price points. If you like to keep your sneaker game fresh but are working with a limited budget, New Balance is a great brand to give a try.

Style and comfort often come at a price, but not in the case of the 997h. When compared to some of the other high end and on-trend models from name brands, the affordable price tag may convince you to buy more than one pair!
Key Features

Key Features

Retro design
5 mm drop
Breathable mesh panels
Flexible imeva and rubber outsole
Foam interior cushioning
GCEVA construction
modernized ENCAP midsole
Affordable price point
Bottom Line

Bottom Line

If you were a fan of Steve Smith’s original designs from the 1990s, New Balance has recaptured its magic with a few modern features that make the 997h really special.

Need a pair of sneakers with a stylish look to take you from work to socializing with friends at the end of the day? What we loved most about this much-anticipated 997h design from New Balance is that they are designed to keep up with all of your travels throughout your everyday life.

If you are heading to an event that will leave you on your feet all day, but you still want to look stylish, you really can’t go wrong with these shoes. Mesh panels and a breathable midsole keep your feet cool and dry, and the blended rubber sole provides a good deal of bounce when traveling on hard and unforgiving surfaces.

Plus, you can’t beat that price point. The New Balance 997h comes in quite a few unique color options that really pop and may make it hard to decide on a singular pair. With an affordable price point, you don’t just have to decide on just one pair!