In addition to being a running shoe reviewer, I also happen to be a survey junkie.
Surprisingly, these two pursuits benefit one another. A healthy selection of the surveys I’m requested to take ask for my opinions and preferences on running shoes.
Without exception, one of the first questions I get asked is to list down as many running shoe brands as I can think of in 15 seconds.
My brain usually freezes on the spur of the moment, and I forget to include some obvious names.
However, New Balance and Asics are two running shoe brands that even deadline-induced anxiety can’t push from my consciousness.
These two companies have earned their position as leading names in the running shoe world by producing high-quality, comfortable shoes that work well for people of all interests and ability levels.
Keep reading to find out more about New Balance vs Asics, with the good and the bad, similarities and differences of their running shoes!
New Balance At A Glance
New Balance is an industry leader in creating what some people dub “performance walking shoes.”
This is not to say that they do not have a wide selection of top-end running shoe solutions (they do), but the brand is positioned to appeal to those taking the very first step on their fitness journey more than other companies that focus on helping elite runners achieve their top performance.
In fact, the New Balance company motto seems to encapsulate this position perfectly: “Worn By Anyone.”
To help appeal to this wide demographic, a standard New Balance sneaker will feature:
- Plush, padded uppers
- Spacey toe boxes to reduce foot constriction
- Thick midsoles for comfortable landings
All in all, there is nothing intimidating about the New Balance brand. It is a shoe that can appeal to everyone.
Asics At A Glance
Asics is a company that is a little more closely positioned to athletes in general.
As a former wrestler, the majority of my wrestling shoes were Asics. I remember having a pair of Asics track spikes in high school. I have gone through countless pairs of Asics cross trainers over the years.
With such mass appeal to athletes, it is no surprise that running shoes comprise one of the largest sections of the Asics company catalog. In fact, Asics has built and shaped its running shoe philosophy over the years to include 5 core principles, with each of their products rated from most to least along each of these lines:
- Cushioning – how soft of a landing does the shoe provide?
- Support – how much pronation does the shoe allow?
- Ride – how much are you feeling the ground with each stride?
- Fit – how snug is the shoe around the top of your foot?
- Grip – how does the outsole interact with the running surface?
Asics has dozens of shoes that mix and match each of these characteristics to provide the perfect shoe for each runner. So while there are Asics products that will appeal to the world-class distance runner, there are also solutions for the person looking to get in shape for the first time.
New Balance vs Asics Design Comparison
Now that you know a little bit about the overarching philosophy of each company, let’s take a look at how New Balance and Asics stack up along various aspects of design.
The standard New Balance upper is noticeably thicker and more padded than the typical running shoe, especially in the area around the ankle.
While this leaves the foot feeling cozy and protected, the extra padding requires a bit more stitching and overlay material to secure, resulting in less breathability than sleeker mesh uppers. To combat this issue, New Balance uses a material known as Hypoknit in its uppers to help wick moisture and promote airflow to the top of the foot.
New Balance shoes are also noted for their ample toe boxes, making them a comfortable shoe for people with wide feet.
Asics uppers are noticeably lower profile than New Balance. The typical Asics shoe will use a soft, stretchy, breathable mesh material that holds the foot in place without causing too much constriction.
Likely due to its position as a performance walking shoe preferred by a slightly older market, New Balance directs a lot of its R&D efforts on engineering comfortable midsoles.
It offers two main types of midsole foam: Fresh Foam and FuelCell Foam. Fresh Foam is the company’s standard midsole foam and uses motion captured pressure mapping to add more foam in the right place in its shoes. FuelCell Foam is the performance midsole foam aimed at providing comfort without inhibiting responsiveness.
Asics uses its proprietary Flytefoam technology in its midsoles. It is generally considered a solid midsole foam and equips Asics running shoes with adequate to above-average levels of cushion and responsiveness for all types of runs. It is also common for Asics to use its GEL technology in some midsoles–a product for which the company has been well-known for decades.
A standard New Balance shoe will contain a significant amount of blown rubber in the outsole. This helps promote durability and slip resistance. Again, as New Balance is a popular name among a slightly less athletic, intense clientele, these safe, durable outsoles just make a lot of sense.
As can be expected, Asics is a bit more innovative when it comes to outsole design.
The company uses a proprietary material known as Asics High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR) in its outsoles to promote traction and durability.
However, Asics outsoles also feature a unique Trusstic System to split the forefoot and rearfoot of the outsole. It uses a plastic bridge under the arch of the foot with space between the forefoot and rearfoot to guarantee strength and stability without sacrificing flexibility in the same way that solid rubber outsoles do.
New Balance vs Asics Feature Comparison
Getting even more specific, let’s take a deep dive and see how New Balance and Asics products stack up along some crucial performance features.
It is really hard to say which of these two companies gets the nod in terms of durability, as both are in the upper echelon in this regard among running shoe providers.
On one hand, it is hard to argue against the bulkier uppers and highly rubberized outsoles of New Balance shoes.
On the other hand, Asics shoes are popular as cross trainers among a wide array of athletes thanks to their unique combination of performance and durability in all conditions.
At the end of the day, expect to meet or exceed the standard 300-mile lifespan when choosing a shoe from either company. I would honestly expect closer to 500 miles for most users.
New Balance will generally provide a more comfortable, roomy fit in its uppers. The plush, Hypoknit material and spacious toe box provide a welcoming environment, especially for those with wide feet.
Asics shoes, while far from uncomfortable, are generally a bit more snug. The stretchy mesh uppers provide a bit more of a form-fitting sensation. In addition, some Asics shoes use a heel clutch that helps keep the posterior of the foot from sliding around.
So if security is a top priority, then you will feel more at home in an Asics shoe, while those who prefer a softer, freer sensation will likely choose New Balance.
Most New Balance shoes are considered highly cushioned products. They will feature ample midsole stacks using either standard Fresh Foam or performance-minded FuelCell Foam.
Asics is known to get a bit more scientific in its cushioning. Its GEL line is one of the company’s flagship innovations. It uses inert silicone polymers to provide strategic cushioning to high-impact areas of the forefoot and rearfoot.
Outside of the GEL line, Asics shoes are cushioned with the company’s Flytefoam, a blend of Solyte and SpEVA midsole foam.
Although not widely considered top manufacturers of stability running shoes, both companies provide some solid stability features in their products.
The wider platform found on New Balance shoes allows for more toe splaying, which can reduce pronation issues for runners who tend to have an inward roll to their gait. You will also find some New Balance shoes designed with a unique S-curve that helps promote side-to-side stability in the foot.
The heel clutch found in Asics shoes keeps the foot locked in place and prevents slippage within the upper.
New Balance and Asics have price points that appeal to all types of budgets.
Standard shoes from each company can start at as little as $50, while premier models will cost $200 or more.
In general, both of these companies are stronger bets than most to deliver a quality running shoe for less than $100.
New Balance vs Asics Top Shoe Comparison
Now that you know all of the generals and specifics when it comes to design and features, let’s spend some time in an apples-to-apples comparison of similar shoes manufactured by these companies.
Everyday Trainer: New Balance Fresh Foam 880v13 vs Asics Gel-Nimbus 24
If you are looking to log some miles, there is no better New Balance shoe to choose than the 880v13. The shoe uses a dual density midsole, with its patented Fresh Foam in the heel for soft landings and a springier forefoot foam for enhanced acceleration.
Whether you are a beginning runner or a veteran distance racer, these are great shoes in which to knock out your daily run. They have a noticeably more breathable engineered mesh upper than some other New Balance products.
The Asics Gel-Nimbus 24 mirrors the 880v13 in many favorable ways. It uses two types of cushioning, the patented GEL technology in both the forefoot and rearfoot as well as Flytefoam throughout the midsole, to provide runners with soft landings and surprisingly springy takeoffs.
Designed to tackle long runs, the Gel-Nimbus 24 has a breathable mesh upper and flexible midfoot panel that keep the foot feeling free and fresh as the miles accumulate.
Winner: Asics Gel-Nimbus 24
Performance: New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 vs Asics MetaSpeed Sky
Although New Balance is not necessarily the first running brand that comes to mind when you are trying to set a PR, they are there for those runners who want to get up and go in the form of the FuelCell Rebel v3.
New Balance’s FuelCell midsole foam is its advanced version that provides additional responsiveness, and the Rebel v3 has it in spades. Users note that it is an exceptionally lightweight and springy shoe whose ultra responsiveness keeps them flying around the track, lap after lap.
Not to be outdone, the MetaSpeed Sky is Asics’ attempt to spare no expense to produce the ideal running shoe for optimal performance. Using Flytefoam Blast Turbo foam for lightweight cushioning and a carbon fiber plate in the forefoot for a snappy, responsive ride, the MetaSpeed Sky produces propulsive assistance that few running shoes can match.
But at close to $250 per pair, is the extra cost really necessary to achieve optimal performance?
Winner: New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 (better bang for your buck)
Stability: New Balance Fresh Foam 860v13 vs Asics Gel-Kayano 29
You have probably been wondering what all of the numbers mean in New Balance shoes.
The first digit(s) is known as the model number, with higher values representing newest styles. The numbers following the “v” are the version number.
The two digits in between represent the shoe’s type, with the 60 in this case representing a stability shoe.
So any New Balance shoe you see that features a “60” after the model number will be classified as a stability shoe, but it is the Fresh Foam 860v13 that is the company’s premier stability product.
The shoe features advanced midsole geometry and a flexible upper that works well for people with high arches and helps limit overpronation between strides.
The Asics Gel-Kayano 29 has been the company’s flagship stability product for more than two decades. It uses an innovative LITETRUSS system that is placed on the inside edge of the midsole to keep the foot from rolling too far inward. With plenty of GEL technology and an infusion of the latest Flytefoam Blast Plus for extra cushioning, it is a very comfortable and stable shoe for runners with pronation issues.
Winner: Asics Gel-Kayano 29
Cushioning: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12 vs. Asics Novablast 3
Whether you are recovering from injury, have logged a lot of miles on your joints, or simply enjoy going on easygoing runs, high-cushion running shoes are a highly sought-after product.
New Balance’s best shoe in this category is the Fresh Foam 1080v12.
Loaded with Fresh Foam throughout the midsole, the 1080v12 provides a pillowy landing on all types of surfaces. With Hypoknit technology woven into the upper, runners love the soft, breathable wearing experience this shoe provides.
The Asics Novablast 3 is right there in terms of impressive midsole cushioning. Equipped with ample amounts of Flytefoam Blast Plus in the midsole, this shoe provides a soft landing and springy takeoff for logging some easy miles.
Winner: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v12
New Balance vs Asics: The Final Verdict
There you have it: everything you could ever want to know about how New Balance and Asics running shoes stack up side-by-side.
Although the two companies offer a wide range of shoes and have pretty interchangeable catalogs, I would argue that New Balance is the better company for beginning runners and those looking for daily wear/running hybrids while Asics is the better choice for performance-minded athletes.
However, each company offers a shoe for every occasion, so if you are in the market for a new pair of sneakers, check out their catalogs and get to running today!