Are New Balance 990s Good for Running? Are They the Ultimate Running Buddy?


When it comes to the world of running shoes, New Balance shoes often come up in conversations. But while they are a paragon of comfort and stability, are the New Balance 990 good for running?

In our exploration of the New Balance 990, we’ll dissect everything you need to know about the features built into the 990 and whether these attributes align with the demands of a dedicated runner.

Before we start, dive deep into the New Balance 990 legacy, exploring each model from V1 to V6, as we unravel the nuances that make this series a timeless blend of performance and aesthetics.

So, lace up, and let’s dive right into it…


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Are New Balance 990 Good for Running?

For those looking for a quick answer, here’s what you need to know…

In a nutshell, the New Balance 990 isn’t the serious runner’s dream shoe. Think of it as an all-purpose shoe for everyday life and light running of no more than 4 to 5 miles on a Sunday morning.

If you’re all about comfort, versatility, and stability, and you’re more interested in a scenic jog than chasing records, the 990 could be your trusty companion.

Just don’t expect them to be featherlight or provide the responsiveness of today’s running shoes.

I found that heavier runners and casual joggers who aren’t logging marathon-worthy miles could find the 990s as their perfect fit. Why? It packs some comfy cushioning and support.

However, with the release of the 990v6, things have changed a little bit.

The 990v6 has a brand-new FuelCell midsole which is a little softer and a little bit more responsive than the 990v5.


In addition to the FuelCell found in the midsole of the 990v6, you also have Encap which is a slightly stiffer cushion.

It’s also covered in a slightly stiffer material to provide a lot of stability in the heel, which is much appreciated because FuelCell is very soft and the Encap kind of balances everything out.

I actually really like that sort of very slight rocker feel that the midsole gives you when you’re walking or running in the shoe. It makes transitioning into your next step very easy compared to the previous 990s.

But, the 990v6 is still a lifestyle sneaker and not a current running shoe in this day and age, and New Balance have a running segment that’s incredible with FuelCell and Fresh Foam X and stuff like that.

So, when it comes to the question of whether the New Balance 990s are good for running, the answer is a qualified “yes” if you value comfort and versatility over long-distance running or tough running workouts.


For more information and recommendations on our top pics for easy day running shoes, give it a read!

Where the 990 Shines the Most

The iconic 990 shines in terms of comfort, support, and durability. It’s a trusted companion for those who prioritize long-lasting reliability and are seeking a shoe that can withstand the test of time.

With its classic design and emphasis on cushioning and stability, the 990 is an excellent choice for people who engage in activities that demand prolonged standing, such as those with jobs that require hours on their feet.

It’s also an ideal fit for individuals who prefer casual walks, everyday errands, or light jogging sessions of 4 to 5 miles, rather than serious marathon training.

Now, let’s dive into more details…



Again, the 990v6 seems to be a bit more responsive than the 990v5, but compared to today’s running shoe standards, it’s like comparing a classic car to a modern sports car.

While the 990 shines in comfort, support, and longevity, it doesn’t match the responsiveness found in many contemporary running shoes.

Today’s running shoes often incorporate advanced materials and technology that provide a more energetic and bouncy feel, propelling runners forward with each step.

The 990, on the other hand, prioritizes cushioning and stability over the immediate, spring-like response sought after by competitive runners.

It’s not to say the 990 lacks its own charm, but if responsiveness is your top priority, you might find the newer models more attuned to your needs on the track or trail.


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The New Balance 990’s midsoles have long been synonymous with comfort, providing a cushioned walking and standing experience.

While the 990’s midsoles are timeless in their comfort, contemporary options like the Fresh Foam More v4 have elevated the “cloud-like” experience to new heights, catering to the evolving desires of today’s runners for an even more luxurious and dynamic running experience.


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Rocker Geometry

Un until the 990v5, the series had been built on a flatter sole and lacked the pronounced rocker geometry that characterizes many modern running shoes.

But with the 990v6, we’ve seen the introduction of a slight rockered midsole, which indeed makes the ride a bit smoother and less cumbersome.

But still, contemporary running shoes, even those with substantial stack heights like the Saucony Endorphin Shift, often incorporate better rocker geometries to deliver a remarkably smooth and efficient ride.

This feature propels the foot forward, reducing the effort required during the transition from heel strike to toe-off, making each stride feel fluid and effortless.

The absence of such a rocker geometry in the 990 can result in a somewhat less dynamic ride.

As a side note, shoes with great rocker geometries are some of the best running shoes for runners with Hallux Rigidus.

Versatility is the Name of the Game

The 990 is like the Swiss Army knife of the footwear world. They’re not just for light running; they’re for living life to the fullest.

Whether it’s standing for hours on end at your job, taking a casual stroll around the neighborhood, or tackling your daily errands, the 990s have your back. They’re the go-to choice for those who value versatility.


The Comfort & Ride

With enough cushioning and support to rival your coziest recliner, these shoes make walking a breeze.

You can spend hours on your feet without feeling like you’ve stepped on hot coals. However, when it comes to running, the comfort factor overshadows their responsiveness.

In terms of landing comfort, the 990 may not offer the most luxurious experience for running – you won’t feel like you’re bouncing on a trampoline.

And the ride? Well, it’s not the smoothest journey you’ll ever embark on; it’s a bit on the clunky side.

FYI, Nike makes some of the most comfortable shoes. Give it a read!

The Pigskin Paradox

One standout feature of the 990 is the pigskin upper. It’s like wrapping your feet in a plush leather jacket – it oozes quality. But (and there’s always a ‘but’), it’s not the best at letting your feet breathe. So, you might want to save these for cooler weather runs.


Stable, Heavy But Durable

One thing the 990s definitely have going for them is stability. If you’re worried about wobbly ankles or overpronation, the 990 are as stable as a four-legged table on a level floor.

However, they are heavy. If you’re looking for speed and agility, the 990s aren’t the shoes you want to be dragging along.

On the bright side, the 990 is built like a tank. Super durable, It’ll last longer than most running shoes on the market. So, if you’re after a long-term commitment for your 4 to 5-mile runs, these could be your match made in shoe heaven.


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New Balance 990v6 Review

The New Balance 990 series, notably the 990v5, has earned its place as one of the most iconic and beloved lines in New Balance’s sneaker history.

Originally released in 2019, the 990v5 quickly became a staple in my daily wardrobe, and I’ve clocked in more miles with it than any other pair I’ve owned.

The 990 has found a near-constant spot in my rotation, and it’s not just about comfort; it’s a master of versatility. It blurs the line between a running shoe and an everyday lifestyle essential.

In my book, it’s the ultimate all-rounder, balancing performance and style with finesse.

While the 990 series had its roots as a running shoe line, it has gracefully transitioned into a remarkable choice for everyday runs, particularly shorter distances.

Up until recently, the 990v3 held a special place in my heart, despite its lack of high-tech specs compared to the 990v5. It managed to strike a perfect balance between comfort and style, proving that sometimes, simplicity is key.

But I won’t sugarcoat it: the New Balance 990v6 might just have outshone the 990v3 and the 990v5 in my list of favorites, which is quite a revelation. Although it comes with a price tag, this shoe, in my honest opinion, is worth every penny.



The 990, without a doubt, is a top-tier sneaker when it comes to quality. From the construction to the materials used, everything about these shoes exudes a sense of premium craftsmanship.

There’s a certain level of refinement that sets them apart, and it’s likely because the meticulous attention to detail adds to the production costs, ensuring top-notch quality control.

In all honesty, New Balance consistently maintains a higher standard of quality control than many other brands out there. This commitment to excellence shines through in their products, and it’s one of the reasons why I hold New Balance in such high regard.

Their dedication to delivering high-quality shoes is a testament to their reputation in the industry.



Moving down the lower part of the shoe, you’ll encounter one of the most significant changes in the 990 V6 compared to its predecessors – the brand-new midsole.

It’s not just new; it’s beautifully sculpted and ushers in a more modern feel. The shoe’s shape takes on a more organic and almost natural look, which is a refreshing departure from its predecessors.

The most noteworthy shift in this midsole is the introduction of FuelCell foam, a change I absolutely love. It brings a soft and responsive cushioning underfoot.

What stands out here is the increased size of the midsole, lending the shoe a chunkier aesthetic that I personally find quite appealing.

Now, the 990 V6 doesn’t reach the same levels of plushness as, say, the New Balance 1080 V12, but it’s definitely softer than the 990 V5 and its predecessors.

It doesn’t enter the realm of max cushion shoes like the New Balance Fresh Foam X More v4 either. Instead, it strikes a harmonious balance between a soft cushion and stable, firm cushioning.

While I adore the feeling of sinking into a pillowy cushion, such shoes aren’t very practical for everyday wear or running, as they can lead to a noticeable energy loss.

The 990 V6, on the other hand, maintains a sense of responsiveness. It offers generous cushioning without going overboard, finding that sweet spot, which is one of the reasons why I hold this shoe in such high regard.

In a nutshell, the 990 V6 serves as an excellent casual shoe and running shoe for light running, catering to the preferences of a wide range of people. It’s a versatile companion for those looking for that perfect balance between comfort and performance.


While the upper of the 990 V6 showcases some styling updates compared to its predecessors, it maintains a consistent use of quality materials that define this iconic line.

Beginning at the toe, a light gray suede beautifully forms the mudguard, adding a touch of sophistication to the design. It’s the subtle details like this suede that truly encapsulate the essence of the 990.


Moving upward, the shoe boasts another iconic 990 material, a gray mesh that wraps around the upper. On the medial side of the toe, a hidden gem awaits – a reflective detail that subtly blends into the shoe during the day but springs to life in the dark or when captured by a camera flash.

On each side of the toe box, you’ll find dark gray perforated panels that not only enhance the aesthetics but also contribute to the shoe’s structural design. These panels almost resemble the skeleton of the shoe, adding a unique touch.

Threaded through the eye-stays are flat white laces that create a pleasing contrast with the upper, seamlessly tying in with the shoe’s midsole. Just beneath the laces, more of that breathable mesh material from the lower part of the tongue continues the elegant design.


However, keen eyes may notice a slight difference in the tongue of the 990 V6 compared to the 990v5 or even the 990 v3.

The tongue appears to have slightly less padding, though it’s a subtle change that might only become apparent when the shoes are placed side by side.


Nonetheless, there’s still ample cushioning in the tongue, ensuring comfort remains uncompromised. It’s a unique touch that doesn’t necessarily lean one way or the other, making it a noteworthy but not necessarily a preference-altering feature.


In a nod to the 990v3, the 990 V6 features a neat design choice with white piping surrounding the end logo, a detail I absolutely adore. This addition serves to accentuate the logo on the side of the sneaker, giving it a distinctive and eye-catching quality.


Moving further back, you’ll notice more reflective paneling, along with a reflective hit at the top eyelets of the shoe. And towards the heel on the lateral side, the 990 logo makes its appearance, adding another layer of character to the shoe’s overall design.

Made in The USA


Shifting our focus to the heel of the shoe, you’ll find more reflective elements and that same exquisite suede detail that graces the mudguard. Adorning the heel is the New Balance logo, and just below that, a proud “made in the USA” insignia.

Interestingly, the heel serves as the exclusive location for the made-in-the-USA branding on the exterior of the shoe.

It’s worth noting that, unlike the 990v5, which had an American flag on the tongue, this version opts for a more streamlined design without the flag.


The absence of the flag on the tongue actually contributes to a lighter and softer feel of the tongue, eliminating the slight stiffness that the flag introduced.



Stepping inside the sneaker, you’ll encounter a light gray sock liner that’s delightfully soft to the touch. It’s reminiscent of the 990v5’s comfort, and just as with its predecessor, the ankle area of this shoe boasts exceptional padding.

Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like they’ve skimped on the padding in this department.

Beneath your feet, a black foam insole offers a soft but not overly thick layer of cushioning. The majority of your comfort, however, derives from the midsole itself.

Now, let’s delve into the sizing and fit of the New Balance 990 V6…

Sizing & Widths

I initially grabbed my true size, a size 9, for this shoe. However, my past experiences with New Balance 990 models led me to downsize by half a size, opting for an 8.5. In the previous models, I found them a tad too long and a touch too wide.

Particularly with the New Balance 990 V5, I felt that the shoe had an overall spacious feel. But, to my pleasant surprise, the 990 V6 in my true size 9 fits me comfortably.

It does run slightly long, and many folks recommend going down half a size. Personally, I prefer the true-to-size fit; it’s just right for me.

However, the sizing for the 990 V6 might be one of those areas where personal preference reigns supreme. To be safe, trying the shoe on before purchasing is a wise move.

While going true to size would likely work well, if you’re seeking that perfect one-to-one fit, a test run is the way to go.

An added perk with all the 990 sneakers is the availability of different widths. Whether you have a regular, wide, or narrow foot shape, there’s a pair of 990 V6 out there that will provide an ideal fit for you.



Moving to the bottom of the sneaker, you’ll find a full-coverage Ndurance rubber outsole, which is essential for durability and traction.

For me, the 990 V6 represents a splendid fusion of comfort and style – truly the best of both worlds. It’s not only a visually appealing sneaker but also an exceptionally comfortable one.

Being a fan of unique collaborations and limited releases, I’m eagerly anticipating the wild and creative partnerships that may emerge with this shoe.

The paneling on the upper is already intriguing, and when various colors and details are thrown into the mix, it’s bound to make this sneaker stand out even more.

Honestly, this ranks among my favorite sneakers of the entire year, and it was well worth the wait. I’m genuinely interested in hearing your thoughts on the 990V6 and whether it’s on your radar.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

You can get your New Balance 990v6 here and here.

New Balance 990 FAQs

Is the 990 a running shoe?

While the New Balance 990 series has a running shoe heritage, it is primarily considered a versatile athletic shoe suitable for various activities, including light running, but it may not be the best choice for serious runners aiming for high performance.

Why is New Balance 990 so popular?

The enduring popularity of the New Balance 990 can be attributed to its classic and timeless design, which blends comfort, stability, and durability. These qualities make it a versatile choice that caters to a broad spectrum of individuals seeking reliable and enduring footwear for both active and daily wear, embodying the perfect balance of style and substance.

Why are NB 990 so expensive?

The New Balance 990 commands a higher price due to its premium materials, meticulous craftsmanship, and reputation for durability. Crafted in the USA, the 990 series prioritizes quality over quantity, resulting in a sturdier and more enduring shoe, which often comes at a higher cost compared to mass-produced alternatives.


Again, are the New Balance 990 good for running? 

While it may not be the choice for dedicated marathon runners aiming for speed and responsiveness, it excels in areas like comfort and durability.

Its classic design, iconic pigskin upper, and stability make it a trusty companion for those seeking all-day comfort and versatility in their footwear.

The 990 series is an ideal choice for those who prefer scenic jogs, casual walks, or light running sessions of no more than 4 to 5 miles. It lacks responsiveness, smooth ride, and that modern rocker geometry.

In short, the New Balance 990 is ideal for those who value comfort, support, and versatility over competitive running performance.

Thank you all so much for making it to the end of this article, and I will see you all in the next one 🙂

About Eric Barber

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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