While rubber is the most common design element to the outsoles of running shoes, most manufacturers and designers
only take advantage of its higher durability and rarely find ways to benefit from its bounciness. New Balance, on the other hand, saw fit to design the outsoles of the Vazee Rush v2 with a combination of hard rubber and bouncy rubber-based foam. Referred to as RapidRebound, this form of underfoot material fills in the large gaps between each hard rubber lug with material designed to exponentially increase responsiveness. As a result, runners, in particular, will notice a combination of powerful energy return and excellent traction when taking these New Balance shoes on the track or sidewalk.
The same Rapid Rebound technology that went into significant portions of the New Balance Vazee Rush v2’s outsole is also incorporated into its midsole to achieve a similarly impressive level of energy absorption and diffusion. Aside from this, another notable aspect of this portion of the shoe is its above average thickness, which provides greater amounts of cushioning and support for the wearer at the cost of additional weight on their lower legs. These shoes also have a heel drop of around 6 millimeters, which ensures that enough extra padding is present in the rear portion of these shoes to absorb and respond to heel strikes in particular. Other than these noteworthy design aspects, the midsoles of the Vazee Rush v2 is remarkably similar to those of most other New Balance shoes, just presented in a different way.
Starting from the inside, the New Balance Vazee Rush v2 has a molded internal sock liner that provides excellent comfort
for the wearer’s foot when wearing them. Some people may go so far as to say that this feature makes it comfortable and viable to wear these shoes without socks at all, although this isn’t recommended by the manufacturer. Additionally, none of the material used to construct this shoe’s upper is comprised of stitching, meaning it has a seamless construction that won’t cause skin irritation. There’s a great deal of mesh on the outermost layer of the upper, which allows for air to flow in and out of the shoes, but some harder plastic near the forefoot provides some much needed structural integrity as a balance. Finally, the lateral sides of each shoe are adorned with a large N to signify the manufacturer, with the model’s subtitle added to the rear.
With an average weight of just over 9 ½ ounces for men and 8 ½ ounces for women, these New Balance running shoes are slightly above the average weight without crossing the line into being considered inconveniently heavy
. This is the first major stylistic departure the Vazee Rush v2 has in comparison to other New Balance products. In the past, this company was known mainly for creating extremely sturdy and well-cushioned shoes that catered to individuals with large and wide feet but weighed considerably more than the average runner. With this new direction, these shoes look better and feel lighter on the wearer’s feet but don’t offer the same benefits that gave New Balance their niche appeal.
Due to the fact that these shoes are lighter than most others in New Balance’s catalog, breathability is less of a concern than it was with their other products. However, the Vazee Rush v2 still makes an effort to provide fantastic ventilation through their use of synthetic mesh fabric for most of its upper design. This material isn’t as durable or protective for the wearer’s feet as some other forms of upper construction, or even of synthetic mesh materials, but it does provide an excellent degree of airflow. As a result, runners who would like to take these shoes with them on running sessions where the weather is uncomfortably warm or humid can enjoy their run in peace without worrying about overheating or developing trench foot from sweat.
In the past, New Balance enjoyed its niche status for supplying an excellent level of comfort for the wearer. They would go so far as to ensure the maximum possible degree of cushioned padding even if it came at the cost of its visual appearance, which it often did. New Balance was also well-known for their catering to individuals with wider feet by offering alternative shoe sizing options to provide their most optimal level of comfort. With the Vazee Rush v2, these two features are conspicuously absent. Although some effort has been made to provide comfortable padding, with the most prominent example being the extra thick midsole, these shoes don’t offer nearly the same degree of padding as its predecessors. Additionally, there are no alternative widths for the Vazee Rush v2 either, which will come as a major disappointment to some dedicated New Balance customers.
New Balance was never known for having an appealing sense of style. Their shoes were almost universally designed with functionality at the forefront and fashion as an afterthought. This is what kept them from reaching the same levels of popularity as some of the most successful athleisure brands, but it’s also what endeared them to many customers and cemented their niche status. With their newest products like the Vazee Rush v2, New Balance is attempting to break out of this footwear niche and redefine their public image. These shoes more closely resemble something from Nike’s catalog than from their own, with a simplistic color scheme and upper design and the option to choose between a bevy of bright neon colorways. On one hand, these are definitely better-looking shoes than what New Balance has made for most of their history. On the other hand, customers who want a product that looks like a Nike shoe will probably just end up getting a Nike shoe.
Although they were almost always bulky and unwieldy, something New Balance was always able to accomplish through their footwear design was ensuring a decent degree of durability from its many layers of protective material. The Vazee Rush v2, on the other hand, is much less resilient to the elements as a consequence of its stripped-down design. Sure, the underside of this shoe is thick and sturdy enough to handle hundreds of miles of terrain without any problems, but the upper portion is much more flimsy in comparison. Even when not comparing these shoes to past New Balance products, it feels as though it were almost as susceptible to damage as a Flyknit or Primeknit minimalist runner, despite not offering the same benefits that come with those styles of footwear. Because of this, runners should exercise care when taking these shoes on any serious running sojourn.
In much the same way that these shoes are unable to provide the same level of durability as its predecessors, the same can be said for its protective capabilities. Just to clarify, this criticism doesn’t apply to its outsole or midsole; these two portions of the New Balance Vazee Rush v2 are very well made and can protect the undersides of the wearer’s feet from all manner of repetitive stress injuries, loss of balance, and trauma from errant debris. However, the upper portion of these shoes fails to provide anything close to a similar level of defensiveness since it has been made almost entirely from a very thin and lightweight synthetic mesh fabric. A small piece of solid material has been placed on the very front of the shoes, and the outsole extends partially into this section as well, so that the toes are relatively protected. However, no other part of this New Balance shoe’s upper provides any real protective features.
Usually the one part of a running shoe’s design that has the most significant impact on the product’s responsiveness is its midsole. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that the New Balance Vazee Rush v2 is exceptionally responsive with its thicker than average midsole. Made with New Balance’s proprietary RapidRebound technology, this rubber-based foam padding does a fantastic job absorbing the energy from individual footstrikes and then explosively releasing it in order to propel the wearer’s foot forward toward their next step. This material has even been added to sections of the outsole, further expanding its ability to accomplish this impressive feat.
There are a few features provided by the New Balance Vazee Rush v2 that ensure the wearer’s feet are properly supported. However, all of them are confined to the underside of the foot with no real focus on any other aspect. This means that while the midsole, outsole, and inner sockliner provide fantastic arch and heel support, there aren’t any design elements of these shoes that allow for people suffering from gait abnormalities such as overpronation from correcting their discrepancies. As a result, these shoes are only appropriate for runners who don’t have these issues; chronic overpronators would be better off with an older pair of New Balance sneakers.
Due to the somewhat aggressive tread pattern found on the underside of these New Balance running shoes, wearers may be led to believe that these shoes are able to run on rougher surfaces. And to be fair, the outsole of the Vazee Rush v2 can handle some forms of non-technical hiking trails. However, considering the fact that the upper portion of these running shoes isn’t up to the same level of durability and protection as its lower half, it isn’t recommended that runners wear these shoes on any surfaces rougher than an asphalt road. Although it is certainly possible that one could wear these shoes on a hike or trail run, the chances of something going wrong are very high to the point that such an action is strongly discouraged.
Upon their initial release, the New Balance Vazee Rush v2 cost just shy of $100. This is a fairly common price for a pair of high-end running shoes, although it’s much more expensive than most casual runners. After a few years on the market, this price has dropped to about half its original cost, placing it in the same general range as other casual running shoes. While these New Balance runners offer some features that help them to stand out from the rest of these products, the price it is listed for today is much more reasonable when considering its design limitations.
Although it is clear that responsiveness was a primary concern in the design process, these shoes have also clearly been created with an eye for traction as well. The outsoles of the New Balance Vazee Rush v2 are able to grip the ground beneath runners’ feet with confidence, although it may be so severe an effect that it can detract from the wearer’s ability to reach their top running speeds. Regardless, the fact remains that these shoes provide a solid grip on a variety of running surfaces.
Aside from the thick and sturdy outsole, these New Balance running shoes are fairly flexible, especially when compared to other products made by this footwear brand. Fortunately, the presence of a sufficiently thick midsole in conjunction with the aforementioned outsole ensures that the high flexibility felt in the upper portion of the Vazee Rush v2 doesn’t have any negative effects on the wearer’s running experience.
Although it is primarily delegated to the bottom half of the shoe, the New Balance Vazee Rush v2 offers a surprising degree of stability. The dense and sturdy outsole is designed to offer very little give, and the included RapidRebound technology ensure that this doesn’t come at the cost of comfort or responsiveness. The thicker midsole offers some flexibility to offset this, and the upper portion provides much more, which results in an excellent balance between these two polarizing attributes.
As was previously mentioned, the New Balance Vazee Rush v2 has a heel drop of roughly 6 millimeters. This is less than the drop of an average casual running shoe but greater than the average drop of a trail running shoe. As a result, anyone who is used to running in either of these forms of footwear will likely need to adjust to the unique level of midsole elevation present in this product’s design before feeling truly comfortable running in them.
- Hard rubber outsole with large underfoot lugs
- RapidRebound technology outfitted to outsole and midsole
- Ventilated synthetic mesh upper fabric
- Internal sockliner for comfort and support
- Extra-thick midsole with 6 mm heel drop
It’s clear what kind of direction New Balance is attempting to move their brand when it comes to their image and product design. At the cost of their longtime fans, it appears that they are trying desperately to be the next Adidas or Nike in terms of style and customer base. Whether or not this will be a successful move for them remains to be seen, but one thing that is abundantly clear upon reviewing the Vazee Rush v2 is that there are bound to be bumps on the way to their end goal.