Tuesday, April 23, 2024

New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v8 Multi Tester Review: 4 Comparisons

Article by Jana Herzgova and Jeff Beck

New Balance Fresh Foam X Hierro v8 ($150)


Jana: I have done only a few runs in New Balance Hierro v6 (two models back), so this review will not be a comparison to either model v6, or v7. I no longer have the v6 model for more precise comparison, but if my memory serves well, it was a great, very comfortable, and cushioned trail shoe. I also wore the Hierro v6 for casual strolls around the town. 

I liked the Hierro v6 model, so I wanted to try the new v8 model. So let's see how the new New Balance Hierro v8 did during testing.

Jeff: In the last few years the Hierro has gone from New Balance’s most cushioned trail shoe, to simply a “well-cushioned” trail shoe. It can’t hang with its massively upsized sibling Fresh Foam More Trail, but is far from a minimalist shoe. While other shoes excel on technical trails, the Hierro seems best use case on fairly tame dirt trails. I’ve missed out on the last two iterations, but reviewed the much heavier Hierro v5.

Pros: soft feel and ride - Jana, Jeff

          True to size - Jana, Jeff

          Secure and comfortable fit - Jana, Jeff

          Borderline plush upper - Jeff

          Grippy outsole - Jeff

Cons: Way too long shoelaces - Jana

           Upper support lacking for technical trails - Jeff


  Samples women’’s 10.9 oz / 311 g US10.5 , men’s 11.5oz / 326g US10.5

Stack Height: men’s 31.5 mm heel / 25.5 mm forefoot (6mm drop spec) 

                      women’s  32mm heel / 24mm forefoot

Platform Width: 93 mm heel / 89 mm midfoot / 117 mm forefoot

$150  Available now including at New Balance HERE

First Impressions, Fit and Upper

Jana: The Hierro v8 is very similar to the previous, two models back, Hierro v6 by look.  And that's where my comparison between these two models will end.

The upper is breathable, seamless, and well designed mesh. I like the Neo Flame color as well - I have received a few compliments about it as well. It stays light when wet, and dries out fast. 

The fit is rather on the more narrow side, it is definitely not a shoe for folks with wider feet. When laced up, it provides a snug and secure fit.

I was a little bit worried about the tongue not being gusseted and possibly sliding around while running, but that has not happened once. It stayed well in place. There is a little bit of cushioning in it as well 

The heel collar is cushioned just enough to provide comfort, but not feel overly clunky. 

Laces are a bit long for my taste, but stretchy, and when laced up, they don't get loose over time, and keep the foot securely in place.

I have no idea why laces are so long, but if that's the way New Balance wants to go, I would suggest adding some sort of tucking in (or under) system to keep shoe laces in place while running, rather than flapping around. I am not much of a fan of that.

There is an overlay that goes around the shoe, and provides a firm toe protector - like that and it saved my toe a few times. 


My Hierro v8 fits true to size.

Jeff: I’ve missed out on the last two versions of Hierro, my last experience was the v5, which I found heavy and unremarkable. That said, it was instantly apparent how much the shoe has improved in the roughly two year gap because the v8 is neither heavy nor unremarkable.

Jana is spot on when it comes to width, it’s slightly on the narrow side, though it is offered in both 2E and 4E wides, so I can’t knock it for not being the widest shoe around. The toebox isn’t incredible, but it is decent in width. The mesh upper has some give to it, and the shoe has some overlays, but they’re not overly structural - making the shoe more suited to more casual trails or road to trail runs.

My wider foot eats up some of the laces, but even so, they are definitely on the longer side of things. I could see narrow footed runners having very lengthy laces, though a lace swap is pretty low effort if it really bugs you. 

The tongue is on the verge of what I’d call plush, though it’s a slightly odd design with most of the cushioning at the top of the tongue, where laces don’t really exist. Similar to Jana, I didn’t have any tongue movement issues despite the lack of gusset.

Midsole & Platform

Jana: The midsole has a nice soft landing feel to it. To me, it is somewhere in between a ground feel and a higher stacked feeling shoe. It is made from Fresh Foam X (a foam that has bubbles inside of it) which makes for a fun and comfy ride with some responsiveness.  

8mm drop is something I am not used to (my preference is around 4mm), but I have not felt much of a difference, nor any distress or pressure put on my foot/ankle. 

Given the softer landing and responsiveness, Hierro v8 is a great candidate for longer distance runs / ultra distance races. Very pleasant ride and experience overall.

Jeff: Absolutely agree with Jana, while a few years ago this would be thought of as approaching a max cushioned shoe, in 2024 it feels very much middle of the pack when it comes to cushioning. Fresh Foam X works very well on the dirt, it’s soft enough to make for a very comfortable landing - though it isn’t the greatest when it comes to rock protection. That, along with the less structured upper really defines it as a great dirt trail shoe.


Jana: The outsole is Vibram Eco Step rubber with Traction Lug micro lug tech. It provides a very good grip on nearly all surfaces (except mud - not designed for it), and I find it comfortable enough for road to trail run as well. 

My experience with Vibram outsole is very good when it comes to durability, so my expectations for lasting lugs and traction are rather high. 

I am not sure what the purpose of the outsole extension on the heel part is, but it does not interfere with anything while running. 

Jeff: When it comes to rubber, Vibram is still the first name in the business for a reason. Plenty of grip, solid durability, and yes, not the best performance in mud. The lugs aren’t overly complicated, making the shoe’s road performance nearly as good as the dirt side of things. As for the protruding heel, my understanding is that it’s supposed to give more traction on the downhills, but I can’t speak to that personally.

Ride, Conclusions and Recommendations

Jana: As I mentioned above, the ride and my overall experience with this model is pleasant. I have not found any major flaws, or anything I would not like - except the length of the shoelaces.

I like the design as well.

I would also recommend Hierro v8 to hikers, given the soft, comfy, and responsive landing. 

When conditions in the mountains will improve for some higher ground running, I'll definitely keep these in my rotation. 

Score: 9.3 / 10

Ride - 9.5; Fit - 9; Value - 9; Style - 9.5.


Jeff: As New Balance has grown the Fresh Foam More Trail (literally and figuratively) it’s left the Hierro in a bit of an odd place. No longer the big distance trail crusher, instead it’s a well-cushioned, though extremely soft shoe that excels on casual trails with some solid road functionality. It’s not the most exciting shoe, and it’s a little on the narrow side, but the outsole is well mated to its upper. The lack of rock protection, and minimal upper support, would keep me from recommending it as a surefire technical trail shoe, but as a lightweight hiking shoe you could do much, much worse.

Jeff’s Score: 8.4/10

Ride (30%): 9 Fit (30%): 8.5 Value (10%): 8 Style (5%): 9 Traction (15%): 8 Rock Protection (10%): 7  


4 Comparisons

Index to all RTR reviews: HERE 

New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail v3 (RTR Review)

Jeff: New Balance’s trail behemoth shares the same midsole compound and similar outsole material/philosophy to the Hierro, but it’s just…much much more. Substantially more. It’s one of the best named shoes, because there’s just so much more to it. The FFMTv3 also is on a much wider platform, making it even more stable. In vehicle terms, it’s very much a Ford F350 to the Hierro’s F150. Similar, but still very different.

Topo Ultraventure 3 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Similar stack heights as well as pared down outsoles and uppers, both of these shoes excel at the more tame trails. The trademark Topo toe box tells the tale and tips the scale for me, but narrow footed runners would likely prefer the more dialed in fit of the Hierro.

Brooks Caldera 7 (RTR Review)

Jeff: Similar overall intention, the extra stack height of the Caldera provides much more underfoot protection, while the softer midsole of the Hierro makes it a more comfortable day shoe. The Brooks’ toe box is also a bit wider, making it a better long distance shoe for Hobbit-footed runners like myself.

ASICS Trabuco Max 2 (RTR Review)

Jeff: The ASICS midsole is just a bit higher stacked, though the New Balance has much more give to it. The ASICS feels like it wants to run at faster paces, while the Hierro really works well as an easy day shoe. Also a hat tip to the ASICS in toe box width, it’s not a big difference, but it is enough.

Hierro v8 available now


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Tester Profiles

Jana Herzgova took up running in 2016, after a back injury. Prior to that she was a speed skater, but due to back pain and doctor's recommendation, she transitioned into running. Since then, starting with shorter ultra distance races she quickly evolved into an avid long distance and unsupported mountain runner. She also loves to take on challenges/races in arctic and subarctic climates, mainly in unsupported and semi-self supported style. She currently lives in Utah/Wyoming.

Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 20 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Comments and Questions Welcome Below! Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So not quite a road to trail 1080 given the lower stack? More like an 880 in terms of cushioning/feel?