How does the slimmed down Hierro work in a world of high tech flashiness?
Tough Terrain Tested!
We live in a world ever more composed of the latest super foam, carbon plates, pods and wild innovation to make every run faster. Here, the Fresh Foam X Hierro v7 is refreshingly normal. Not designed as a fast racing shoe but rather a comfort cruiser for the trails. Furthermore, it offers pleasant width in the base to allow for stability and security across a range of terrains.
Usually, I would preface this kind of review by saying that I haven’t had a chance to test the shoe on more technical alpine trails. However, this time, I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Chamonix around UTMB. As such, I have been able to test the shoe on sections of both the OCC and UTMB courses. Added to that, the weather also allowed me to test the shoe in a range of conditions. With a new look and a lighter weight than ever before, how did it take to the test? Let’s find out!
Weight in New Balance’s sample size: 283g (10 oz)
Stack height: 36mm heel and 28mm forefoot for an 8mm drop
Upper – Comfortable, protective and simple.
From the off, the Hierro v7 is a very comfortable fit. It has good width in the toe box and fits true to size from my experience. Step in comfort is good and the shoe does deliver on all day comfort. Additionally, my first day in the shoe saw me wearing it for nearly 26 straight hours. During this time, it was used for running, walking and driving. The mesh and synthetic upper holds the foot well and the Toe Protect feature does a good job of saving the toes from rocks, roots and more.
The tongue, which is semi gusseted, did a good job of keeping the foot in place. This tongue, combined with the upper, did a good job of keeping trail debris out of the shoe. There is also a good level of padding on the tongue which allows the laces to be pulled tight to take on the trail without causing pressure or pain in the top of the foot. Adding a bit more support and structure, we find a large New Balance N on the lateral side of the shoe. The medial side has a more synthetic covering to the mesh which helps to protect the foot while adding structure to the upper.
Moving to the rear of the shoe, the heel cup is stout and well padded without being intrusive or irritating the achilles area. Adding further assistance, we find a good size pull tab to help get the shoe on and off. Overall, the Hierro v7 upper does exactly what it needs to do. It holds the foot in place while protecting the sensitive parts from trail nasties. After use in some rather inclement weather and through more than one mountain stream, I can say that the upper does a very good job of draining the shoe. It won’t keep your feet dry but it will release the water and it dries well once out of the wet.
If I were to find fault with the upper, it would be that it is not the most breathable upper on the market. On cold days, the Hierro v7 does a good job on keeping the foot snug. However, when the temperature in Chamonix pushed the mercury higher up the scale, I did find that my foot became rather warm.
Midsole – Soft and smooth
A good size slab of New Balance’s Fresh Foam X carries out midsole duties in the Hierro v7. This is a foam which offers quite plush comfort along with some responsiveness. I found that the midsole was very pleasant to run in, The 8mm drop in the Hierro v7 allows the shoe to roll and flow through the trails with ease. Furthermore, I found that there was ample cushioning for my feet to take me through a range of runs over a range of terrain.
I found the level of stability from the width of the platform was very comforting when descending through some rocky terrain which had left me quite scared for my ankles in other trail shoes. There is enough ground feel from the sole to allow a secure and sure footing while at the same time, good levels of cushioning to push for a longer time in the shoe.
In the course of my testing, I was also shooting a trail run for iRun x New Balance which turned into a trail interval session for me. On a range of terrain from road to rocky descent, the Hierro v7 was able to pick up the pace when required. I was quite surprised to see some of the paces which I attained with comfort and ease. It was also stable enough for me to not fear falling and smashing my camera gear.
The Hierro v7 makes for a very good workhorse shoe. The drop and rocker makes the running easy, especially with the lighter weight of the shoe. On both climbs and descents the shoe made me feel secure and protected. When the terrain was rocky and uneven, I found the width of the midsole to be very good at keeping me upright and my ankles intact. From road to trial, the Hierro v7 offers comfort and a smooth ride.
Outsole – VIbram continues to rule the roost
Vibram Megagrip takes outsole duties on the Hierro v7. The whole sole of the shoe is covered in a healthy layer which peaks in 4.5mm lugs which gave me secure traction in mud, water and on pavement. After running the shoe through several streams, it was also able to keep me sure footed on the wet rocks on either side of the water. After nearly 80km in the shoes on both road and trail I have found very little wear which would lead me to believe that the Hierro v7 will last a good long time on foot.
Again, the width of the outsole and the protrusion behind the heel add to the stability of the shoe as a whole. Overall, it has proven to be a very fine outsole. Vibram, as ever, is the mark of security on the trails,
Conclusion – Calm, comfortable and easy
Overall, the Hierro v7 is a very fine shoe. For long days and shorter jaunts, it has provided me with comfort, security and easy running. It makes for an excellent trail workhorse, If you need to pick up the pace, it is there for you with the 8mm drop to help your foot roll through the gait cycle. If you are looking for stability on uneven surfaces, the width of the mid and outsole will keep you upright.
Is the Hierro v7 a super flashy wonder shoe? Absolutely not. Is it a fine trail companion which will last for a long time and help you through many miles of fun filled trail adventures? Yes, absolutely. From road to trail and back again, the Hierro v7 offers comfortable cruising. Not everything needs to be built for the ultralight and ultrafast worlds. Sometimes a comfortable companion is all you need to keep your adventures going. You could do a lot worse than the Hierro v7 especially with some of the discounts it can be found at from our retail partners.