For this episode of which running shoe is right for you we are pitting two of the biggest names in the shoe world against each other: Adidas vs New Balance Running Shoes. Looking at their top models in different categories to help you pick the right shoe.
New Balance is well known for having a large variety in widths and a long history of user wear testing and shoes people have genuinely loved running in for decades. Meanwhile, Adidas you might first think of for soccer. But they are coming on strong in the market now (you may have just seen that Boston marathon winner in Adidas!)
Luckily in my 27,000+ miles of running I’ve slipped on a lot of pairs from both brands. So hopefully I can give you a good breakdown of the fit, feel and function.
When it comes to these two brands, I think it’s key to know that both have continued to change an adapt. So if you’ve tried one previously without luck, you might need to be willing to test a new model.
Main Differences New Balance vs Adidas
Adidas and New Balance have a similar range of shoes, but a very different fit and feel. Both brands have been making massive strides recently in the carbon fiber shoe area, which is trickling down in the cushion and great feel of all their running shoes.
I break down the differences in more detail below, but here’s a quick overview:
Adidas Running Shoes
- Shoes tend to run true to size, not wide
- Huge line up of shoes can be confusing
- Frequently able to find good sales (hey that matters!)
- Shoes for a wide variety of sports
- Very well known for casual shoes and athletic wear
New Balance Running Shoes
- Offers wider shoes than most brands
- Offers more in terms of traditional stability shoes
- Thicker midsole provides more stability
- Makes more shoes in the US than any other brand
- Also big in the athleisure market
I’ve worn both brands and will add some personal thoughts, along with links to detailed reviews.
Adidas vs New Balance Running Shoe Feature Comparison
Both brands have been around for a very long time and are leaders in running shoe design. They both offer various technologies to aid with comfort, support, stability, and cushion.
They differ in both fit and technology.
Here is a breakdown of each shoe based on the components buyers need to consider when purchasing a running shoe.
It’s gonna get a little TECHY…so you can just skip on down to the specific model comparison if you want, but personally if I’m shelling out $150 for shoes, I kinda want to know why.
The lifespan of shoes from both companies is fairly comparable. Though I kind of dislike that they give a 200 mile range, that’s massive. Assume that for heavier runners shoes breakdown faster and those running on the treadmill may get more life.
- Adidas shoes have a life expectancy ranging from 300 to 500 miles, or three to six months, depending on your monthly mileage.
- New Balance shoes have a life expectancy ranging from 300 to 500 miles, or three to six months, depending on your monthly mileage.
Determining when to replace running shoes, of course, all depends on your gait, weight, and whether you run mostly on trail or road.
New Balance is one of the few running shoes that offer wide widths and go up to a lot more sizes. This is one reason they are so popular among workers.
Note, they also offer 2A which is extra narrow. And like most brands, they have a shoe finder to help you decide what might be the best fit.
Additionally, their shoe numbering system actually means something!! The last 2 digits tell you about the type of shoe.
40 (Optimal Control):
Shoes in this category provide superior control, stability, cushioning and support for biomechanical needs, such as pronation or low arches (e.g., 940, 1540).
50 (Fitness Running):
For training on roads or for indoor workouts, the 50 series offers the combination of visual attitude and innovation with the responsiveness and power athletes need.
Designs that offer industry-leading stability to reduce pronation while also providing unparalleled cushioning and comfort (e.g., 860).
70 (Light Stability):
The perfect combination of stability and speed, all in a lighter, sleek profile designed for runners who train at a faster pace (e.g., 770).
For high-mileage runners who require light shoes and the protection of superior cushioning (e.g., 1080).
For faster runners who want every advantage, including a superior ride and fit. The choice styles for professional and nonprofessional speed and distance runners (e.g., 890).
Adidas shoes are generally reported to run true to size. I would say they often run a bit more narrow. And they rarely offer wide widths.
Adidas is now well known for their Boost cushioning, which is in the name of so many shoes. Their goal was to improve upon traditional EVA foam, by creating something that provided both cushion and responsiveness.
Meaning that you don’t sink in to the shoe losing the forward momentum. Since 2013 Boost foam has been their primary cushion.
New Balance utilizes Fresh Foam and FuelCell foam depending upon the shoe. Both are designed to provide a lot of cushion without the weight. FuelCell is a nitrogen infused foam which provides additional softness and responsiveness.
It’s been a big win for a number of their shoes in creating raving fans.
Stability Shoe Features
Adidas utilizes a denser midsole and more heel lock to help keep your foot from overpronating.
New Balance utilizes a couple of tools to provide stability. The first is that similar to HOKA all of their shoes have a bigger platform, which naturally means more stability.
Then they have an S Curve to help with that side to side stability and a Ultra Heel that flares away from the ankle for comfort, while keeping your heel firmly in the shoe.
As you may know, I’m not a huge fan of stability shoes for most runners. I am not finding a big difference in brands, they are all focused on preventing that foot roll and often feel more rigid, even with a decent cushion.
The prices between the two brands are fairly comparable.
- New Balance prices range between $80 to $130 (note the $80 often better for walking and not high mileage)
- Adidas prices range from $120 to $160
The most popular models for both brands are priced toward the higher range. Carbon fiber shoes and often trail shoes will go beyond those rates, like the Adidas Adizero Pro which is over $300.
You’ll notice that every brand offers a range and this is indeed due to a difference in technology and where they sell the shoe. They know that the big box store can sell the shoe with less in it, while the local running store needs to be best for dedicated runners.
New Balance Vs Adidas Running Shoe Models
Now that you know more about each brand, let’s look at their top models in each of the main categories. There’s no winner declared here because all are great shoes, it’s just about which one is best for your foot.
Did you notice I even said the brands in reverse order this time…seriously no favorites, I have run in both brands many different times over the years.
Stability Running Shoe
Oddly from both brands this is one of the most affordable running shoes at under $100. As a reminder these shoes tend to be a little stiffer, so if you like the price know they may not feel as amazing on long runs.
With their newest Fresh Foam X it makes for a lighter stability shoe, while still offering the motion control and responsiveness you need. When a shoe is too plush, it’s hard to provide the stability in the arch that prevents your foot from falling inward.
The New Balance 860 is a stability shoe designed for runners with overpronation issues. The shoe comes with a medial post on the inside of the shoe, which helps to prevent excessive inward rolling of the foot, and provides added support to the arch. It also has a dual-density midsole that offers excellent cushioning and support to the feet, making it perfect for long-distance running.
The upper part of the shoe is made of engineered mesh, which ensures proper breathability and comfort. This shoe is suitable for runners who require additional support and stability to maintain proper foot alignment while running.
It also uses their Ultra Heel for additional locked and loaded feeling in the shoe.
- 10mm drop
- 8.6 oz women’s, 10.9 oz men’s
Utilizing their stable frame, you’ll find your foot less likely to fall inward. While you will still enjoy the benefit of Boost foam to provide both responsiveness and cushion.
This is not a plush cushion due to the nature of a stability shoe, but it’s comfortable.
In terms of comfort, the Adidas Solarglide also delivers. The shoe features a breathable upper that is designed to keep your feet cool and dry during long runs, while also providing a snug and comfortable fit. The shoe’s supportive heel counter also helps to keep your foot in place and reduce the risk of injury or discomfort.
Other key features of the Adidas Solarglide include its flexible forefoot, which allows for a more natural range of motion and improved toe-off, as well as its stable, supportive midfoot. Additionally, the shoe features a Fitcounter molded heel counter, which provides a more natural fit and allows for optimal movement of the Achilles tendon.
A shoe that’s made with a number of recycled materials is always an extra win.
- 10 mm drop
- 9.8 oz women’s, 11.2 oz men’s
Neutral Running Shoe
While some runners are flocking to carbon plated shoes, we simply don’t want those as our every day trainers. We want something that is solid and dependable like this neutral shoe that also has a great wide toebox, allowing you to get full power out of those feet.
It’s going to have enough cushion for long runs without being overly plush and still providing just a hint of stability with the bigger platform. I can concur from my running in fresh foam that you absolutely notice the cushion, but it’s still a solid shoe.
The upper part of the shoe is made of engineered mesh that ensures proper breathability and comfort. This shoe is suitable for runners who require moderate support and cushioning for their runs.
- 10mm drop
- 8.4 oz women’s, 10.3 oz men’s
File this under your great every day trainer.
Is it their flashiest shoe, no. But I like the simple look! This is often listed as one of their best long distance training shoes because it provides some great cushion with stability. The massive stack height is part of what creates the wider base for stability, but the shoe also has a stiffness to it from the “energy rods”.
The Adidas Adizero Boston features a Lightstrike pro midsole that provides excellent energy return and responsiveness. It definitely doesn’t have the same bounce and pop as the Boost midsole, so if you’re really looking for cushion head on to the next shoe.
Some runners dislike the lack of cushion in the heel and tongue. I haven’t had an issue with that, but it’s important to know if you like or dislike that fit and feel.
It has a very grippy outsole as well, so these would make for a little road trail mixed use easily (just nothing technical).
- 8.5 mm drop
- 8.8 oz women’s, 9.6 oz men’s
Cushioned Running Shoe
Listen, I like a good cushioned shoe and this one fits the bill. It’s become one of my go to long run shoes.
I’ve actually gone through 3 pairs of this shoe in the last few years. The rave reviews make complete sense to me as someone who likes a similar, cushioned version of the Saucony Triumph.
The most recent version 13 of the shoe is slightly lighter and has the knit upper, which makes the shoe simply feel like it’s hugging your foot a bit more. But it also has more cushion and more stack height.
The Fresh Foam midsole provides excellent cushioning and shock absorption, making it perfect for runners who enjoy long-distance running. Remember this isn’t a plush shoe, but cushion that still responds. The upper part of the shoe is made of Hypoknit, which is a soft and breathable material that provides a comfortable fit.
- 6 mm drop
- 9.2oz Men’s 9, 7.3oz Women’s
- See my full review of the New Balance 1080 v13
Rave reviews, that’s how I feel about this shoe. So many of you have told me it’s your must have. It’s a great everyday trainer for up to half marathon distances. It provides some great cushion with stability, absolutely. The slightly wider base or outsole helps to give this shoe more stability while still allowing for that cushion.
I would consider this a crossover shoe that could be used by neutral runners or those looking for pronation help. It provides really great arch support, which is a key component for preventing excess pronation.
I just started running in this shoe and the heel definitely has that bounce! The forefoot for me is lacking a little bit of cushion, but overall I can see why you all have loved this shoe for so many models.
The Boost midsole technology provides a high level of cushioning and energy return, which can help improve your performance and reduce the risk of fatigue during long runs. In other words, a nice snappy daily trainer for even longer days.
The shoe’s Continental rubber outsole also provides excellent traction and durability, making it an ideal option for a range of surfaces and weather conditions.
- 10 mm drop
- 10 oz women’s, 11 oz men’s
Checkout Zappos for a good 30-day return in case you want to test them, but aren’t sure.
Carbon Fiber Plate Shoes
Are they cool new technology, yes. Do they last as long as your other shoes nope.
So if you want to test these out use them for speed work and then race day! I don’t usually do a full write up on these shoes, but with Adidas and Nike running shoes they’ve become a HUGE part of the brand.
All right, having seen this shoe in Boston, I too was intrigued to test it out. My first run it in reminded me a lot of the Nike Alphafly. You’ve got that spring and bounce off the ground, but with a wide platform that allows you to also feel stable in the shoe.
The fit is MUCH wider than Nike, which for most will be a good thing. I did find that I had to work a bit on the lacing to stop the shoe from breaking across the top of my foot.
This is a personal preference for the enjoyment of maximum cushion shoe that also has the carbon fiber to help propel you forward…and honestly there’s a reason this is what the pro’s are racing in. It works!
Great breathable shoe that’s designed for race day from the 10K to marathon.
- 10mm drop
- 7.7 oz women’s, 8.3 oz men’s
As someone who raves about the NB 1080, I was really curious to find out how their carbon fiber would feel. It reminds me a lot of the original Saucony Endorphin Pro, but with a more pronounced rocker.
It does not have the super bouncy feel of the Adidas Adizero Pro, which is going to be a bonus to some runners and turn off for others. I would not be surprised to see more cushion added to this shoe over time, but for right now it’s one that you might feel a lot more stable using for 26.2 miles of racing!
I think this is going to be a good option for a lot of runners. Especially as some are seeing foot issues from the super cushy foam carbon fiber shoes.
One thing that I noticed even setting this shoe on the table is with a slight touch you can see the rocker motion! So it’s absolutely designed to help roll you forward. You’ll also notice it has a socklike fit, which is something I tend to generally like and it’s a win in this shoe.
- Offers more stability than most carbon shoes
- 4 mm heel drop
- 6.3 oz
Checkout all of my top carbon plate running shoe recommendations >>
How to Choose New Balance or Adidas?
New Balance and Adidas are two extremely well known running shoe brands, but more important than brand is the fit of the shoe.
Your gait and feet will change over time and you may need to change shoes.
This is also why I recommend rotating through several pairs of shoes at once.
And remember, just because these are two of the most well known brands on the market, there are still plenty of other shoe brands to select from if neither New Balance nor Nike has the right shoe for you.
Keep in mind that shoe design can change, even with the same model, so always assess how the shoe fits every time you replace a pair.
For more help selecting the right shoe for you, don’t worry, I’ve got you:
- Best Treadmill Running Shoes
- Top 7 Marathon Running Shoes
- Asics vs HOKA
- ASICS vs Brooks
- Best On Running Shoes
Other ways to connect with Amanda
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Facebook Community Chatter: RunToTheFinish